The White House recently recognized ten individuals from across the country as White House “Champions of Change,” for their development of extracurricular enrichment, afterschool, and summer programs specifically designed to positively impact the lives of marginalized girls of color.

Shari Benites, Annie Delgado, Cynthia Frisina, Lynn Gilkey, Bridgette King, Sharon Lin, Clemmie C. Perry, Maya Nussbaum, Angela Patton, Cheryl Ann Wadlington. (Courtesy Photos via

Through the initiative on “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color,” The White House Council on Women and Girls identified key obstacles facing marginalized girls and honored those who worked to ensure that marginalized girls reach a reasonable level of access and success.

“These honors epitomize what President Obama has been doing since day one , which is to lift up ordinary folks all around our country who are doing truly extraordinary things,” White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett told the White House crowd.  “At a time when the news talks about what’s wrong, we want to showcase what is right.  The President, even as a community organizer in Chicago, was driven to try to help people pursue their dreams.”

Attended by a host of powerful African-American female leaders, including Black Girls Rock! Founder Beverly Bond, Champions of Change also provided a platform for the ten honorees to discuss the continued role of young Black girls in creating the very networks and outreach needed within the communities they live.

Champion of Change honoree Angela Patton, founder of the Richmond-based Girls for Change, CAMP DIVA

Champion of Change honoree Angela Patton, founder of the Richmond-based Girls for Change, CAMP DIVA, told the AFRO that while she initially wanted to work at a women’s shelter to empower broken women to regain their footing, she found that intervention in the lives of Black teen girls lessened the need for repair in their adult lives.

“These women’s wounds began when they were girls… there were father wounds, boyfriend wounds, uncle wounds… and so I wanted to be proactive and take those who were wounded and make sure they were healthy and whole and I needed to start working with young girls,” Patton said.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

Additional winners included Shari Benites, an educator who works as the Minority Achievement Coordinator for Leadership and Public Service in Arlington; Annie Delgado, a JD and educator who heads the Lift While You Lead Empowerment Project; Cynthia Frisina, executive director for BlazeSports America, which works with people with physical disabilities; Lynn Gilkey, who founded CLASS – Caring Ladies Assisting Students to Succeed – to mentor and inspire teen girls; Bridgette M. King executive director of the Lady Panthers Girls Basketball Association (LPGBA); Sharon Lin a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York and founder of StuyHacks and BitxBit Camp; Clemmie C. Perry, executive director of Women of Color Golf (WOCG) and Girls on the Green Tee (GOTGT) programs in Tampa, Florida; Maya Nussbaum. founder of Girls Write Now, a writing and mentoring organization for girls in New York; and Cheryl Ann Wadlington, founder of The Evoluer House in Philadelphia.