The Pastor’s Pen: March 31, 2019

Courtesy of Deaconess Gladys Myatt 

Women have been fighting for gender equality since 1848 during the women’s suffrage movement.  Why deny legal, economic, and social equality to the largest population of people?  Numerous sources have documented that gender equality is part of economic growth. In 2018, there were only 24 women CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies. In recent weeks, the debate regarding female athletes earning less than their male counterparts in the same sport has arisen.  In February 2019, the World Bank Group released its 10-year report on equality for women in the workforce in 187 countries.  To the dismay of women, especially women of color, the United States ranked 65.  

Shiloh has a proven leader, Deacon Jocelyn Frye-Summers, who has fought on behalf of women, girls and families in underserved and underrepresented communities for most of her life.  Several years ago while speaking at the University of Pittsburg School of Law conference, she “argued that the push between men and women should no longer be viewed as controversial.  Instead, she said, the effort should be considered an economic priority for struggling families, particularly as growing numbers of women become primary breadwinners with layoffs decimating industries dominated by men.”  She has been an activist and advocate to increase the political power of women and girls of color.

One could postulate that Deacon Frye-Summers’ activism began at Harvard when she and other students took over the dean’s office to demand more professors of color.  From that day on, she has challenged authority on gender and race issues and became an advocate for affirmative action, workplace equity, and women and families.  Deacon Frye-Summers is best known for her role as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Special Projects for the First Lady in the Obama Administration.  While she counseled the President on some domestic policy matters, she also spearheaded former First Lady’s childhood obesity and military families’ initiatives, managed the young women’s component of the White House Leadership and Mentoring Initiative, and oversaw the broad issue portfolio.    Deacon Frye-Summers was an Associate in the white-collar crime practice area at Crowell & Moring, a DC law firm.  Four years later she became General Counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families.  She concentrated on employment and gender discrimination issues, with a particular emphasis on equal employment enforcement efforts and employment barriers facing women of color and low-income women.  She also testified before Congress and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on federal enforcement of employment-discrimination laws.

Currently, Deacon Frye-Summers is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.  She is a leading authority on women’s economic security and employment issues.  She helps lead policy development for the Women’s Initiative, focusing on a wide range of women’s economic security and employment issues such as work-family conflicts, pay equity, equal employment opportunities, and women’s leadership.  Deacon Frye-Summers highlights the persistent, systemic disparities in Black women’s pay and advocates for increased support for survivors of workplace sexual harassment, particularly among women of color and those in lower wage positions.  In keeping with her advocacy for women’s rights and equality, Deacon Frye-Summers spoke out against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Last fall, Deacon Frye-Summers became the Board Chair of the Ms. Foundation for Women.  She now leads the Foundation to implement a new five-year strategic plan that centers its advocacy and grant-making on women and girls of color.  

Deacon Frye-Summers received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D from Harvard Law School. The women and girls of Shiloh are honored that Deacon Frye-Summers is a member of our church.  We know that her faith, dedication, courage, and passion will be central to the fight for women and girls of color.  Her story is a perfect ending for Shiloh’s 2019 Women’s History Month.