June 26, 2019 News » Cover Story

Who's on this week's cover? 

  • National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The Independent selected powerful womxn of all walks of life to appear on our Womxn’s Issue cover, which was inspired by the iconic photo of feminists Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pittman Hughes shot in 1971 by Dan Wynn. That portrait belongs to National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. (Note: We used “womxn” on the cover in a nod to inclusiveness, but still most often use the word “women.”)

We wanted to update the classic shot to illustrate the diversity in the experience of womxnhood, and also to showcase powerful locals. Here’s a little bit about our subjects.

Julissa Soto

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Julissa Soto immigrated to America from Mexico in the trunk of a car. A young mother of two children, she lived with an abusive partner and didn’t expect more from her life until a friend encouraged her to recognize her inner leader. (See “Leading Latina,” p.18.) In the two decades since then, Julissa rose to incredible heights, earning her master’s degree, and becoming a master trainer at Stanford University and a lifestyle trainer from Emory University.

She has spent two decades in the nonprofit world, advocating for equity and equality for the immigrant community, which often doesn’t have a voice. She has championed health care in particular, serving in leadership roles at organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the Alzheimer’s Association. She is currently the director of statewide programs at Servicios de la Raza, where she covers El Paso, Moffat, Rout, Delta, Montrose, Larimer and Mesa counties. She drives over 4,000 miles a month to meet with immigrants across the state. ‘“I get to hear the voice of the community, what it is that they need,” she says.

Julissa became a United States citizen five years ago. “This is the land of the brave and I belong because I’m brave,” she says.

Jane Ard-Smith

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent

Jane Ard-Smith has been working on environmental issues in the Pikes Peak Region since she moved here from Oregon in 1997. She started by protecting sensitive alpine habitats on Pikes Peak by successfully pressing, along with allies, to have the highway paved. She’s been working on candidate campaigns for nearly two decades, because she recognized, “We need to change who makes the decisions.” 

Jane has served on the board of Citizens Project where she advocated for diversity, equality and separation of church and state. Jane was a recipient of the 2017 Women of Influence award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal and the 2017 Indy Inclusion Award.

Dr. Rosenna Bakari

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent

Dr. Rosenna Bakari, author of Too Much Love Is Not Enough, has written four books related to women’s empowerment since 1994. She is the founding director of Talking Trees, Inc., an empowerment organization for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. A 2017 Women of Influence award recipient, she continues to make significant contributions to Colorado Springs, including keynote speaking, and hosting a monthly poetry open mic event to build community. 

She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado and is currently a visiting assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Visit RosennaBakari.com for more information.

Nancy-Jo Morris

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent

Nancy-Jo Morris transitioned in 2006, and immediately lost her job as a civil designer due to living as her authentic self. At the time, she owned two homes and was giving 20 percent of her income to charity. By 2010, she was homeless, and she remained without a permanent residence until 2015.

Nancy-Jo didn’t want anyone else to experience the discrimination she had, so when a 2007 state law that prohibited employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation was under consideration in the state Legislature, she campaigned to have transgender people included in those protections. 

“When change comes to a state, usually the transgender people get left out,” she says. The law was passed, and it did protect people based on gender identity and gender expression — because it changed the definition of “sexual orientation” to include trans people.

Nancy-Jo has worked with the Colorado Springs Police Department teaching officers how to engage with the trans community. She is the recipient of the 2007 Thomas G. Martin Activist Award from the Pride Center, the 2007 Dr. Jonelle Neighbor Award from the Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church, and the 2017 Indy Inclusion Award.

Emma Tang

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent

Emma Tang is a 17-year-old political youth activist. She grew up with two brothers in Portland. She gained recognition through her Instagram account, @intersectional.abc, where she reaches millions of people per week. Her goal is to educate and motivate the public to take action through social media, by speaking out against racism, sexism, gun control and environmental issues. In her spare time, Emma interns for Senate candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding and House candidate Jillian Freeland.

She has been featured in stories at outlets such as the Overachiever Magazine, GloHub, and The Gaysian Project Podcast. She recently graduated high school early and plans to take a gap year. She’s also a Taiwanese National Figure Skating medalist. 

Emma wants to pursue her passion for social justice by running for president in 2040, but first, she plans to complete a double major in political science and biology.


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