The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem held its Twelfth Annual Luncheon on Thursday, November 9, at the Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem. More than 700 members and friends of the Fund gathered to celebrate the power in a community of people -
Working Together as One.
This year, through the power of collective giving, the Fund awarded $156, 861 in grants to 12 local nonprofit organizations that aim to address the economic security of women and girls in Forsyth County. This is the largest number of grants funded since its founding - one grant for each year in service as a community of passionate women creating social change.
Over the past 12 years, the Fund and various local organizations have worked together to ensure that women and girls of all backgrounds and ages have access to community resources and opportunities which support and equip them to be empowered and successful leaders in the community. This years keynote speaker, Attorney Nicole Little, captivated her audience with the raw and beautiful substance of her story, sharing how the vision of the Women’s Fund directly impacted her life and contributed to the strength of a woman that she is today.
A native of Winston-Salem, Attorney Little graduated from Carver High School in 2009. She attended Wake Forest University for undergrad, earning her bachelor's degree in Sociology with a concentration in Crime and Criminal Justice. During her time at Wake Forest, she was involved with the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, and she organized campus forums focusing on issues of collateral consequences in the criminal justice system, wrongful convictions, and race and socio-economic class relations on a local, state, and national level. In May, she graduated
magna cum laude
from NCCU Law, and the following August, she became licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina. Attorney Little is also the Founding Attorney of the Little Law Firm, where she takes pride in providing zealous advocacy and impact litigation for clients in the areas of criminal defense, small business development, and post-conviction relief.
Before sharing the details of her testimony, Attorney Little first expressed her gratitude to Authoring Action - previous WFWS grantee recipient - and numerous others who’d supported her throughout her ongoing journey to success. She went on to share that, according to statistics, she should not be where she is today, adding, “had I left my life up to the world, I would not be here”.
Attorney Little was raised by a single mother of five children, was a victim of sexual abuse at the tender age 5, lost her 18-year-old brother to gun violence at age 10, was expelled from the 8th grade and placed in juvenile detention, and experienced homelessness during her senior year of high school.
Grateful that she did not place her fate into the often skewed and presumptuous expectations of the world, Attorney Little rose above the weight of forlorn statistics, and chose to cling to the support of those who encouraged and believed in her innate potential for success.
Attorney Little shared the circumstances of her reality with such poised confidence and unashamed conviction, which naturally inspired those under the sound of her voice to engage in meaningful self-reflection. During her speech, Little posed the following question: “As we grow individually, how do we engage in movement building [in order to] lift the next generation of women?”
Amid disheartening odds, Little’s life experiences and concurrent actions demonstrate how she has and will continue to positively fulfill her personal answer to this question. Not seeking pity from telling her story, Little requested that she not be dismissed as an exception, but instead be received as an example. She painted an illustration of the strength in interdependence, and the collective power that emanates from a healthy and strong sense of self, one’s family and friends, organizations like the Women’s Fund and Authoring Action and other community supporters- working together as one.
The Women’s Fund of Winston Salem extends sincere gratitude to Attorney Nicole Little for reminding her hometown of Winston-Salem that, as we embrace our layers and actively share of our time, treasures and talents, our collective and intentional investments can ultimately result in systemic change for all women.