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The Future is Now June 20, 2017

Hosted by CWEALF & Young Women Rising 

Inspired to move past the notion that young people are our future leaders, this event on June 20, 2017, celebrated Connecticut’s young women leaders that are making a difference in the lives of women and girls, here and now. The awardees were all under the age of 40 and demonstrated exemplary leadership and a commitment to their community. 

The Future is NOW 2017 Awardees: 


Haddiyyah Ali

Haddiyyah Ali

Haddiyyah Ali is a Connecticut native. In her time at the University of Connecticut, she was involved with the Undergraduate Student Government at UConn since her freshman year, a contributor to The Daily Campus opinion section, student representative for UConn's Diversity Council, planned programs with the UConn Women's Center and was a founding member of the cohort We, The Organizers. She worked with USG and We, The Organizers to get Bill Cosby's honorary degree revoked by the Board of Trustee and helped pass legislation urging the UConn Foundation to divest from private prisons. Her work helps raise the voices of students and shines light on deserving intersectional issues important to the UConn community. After graduating, Haddiyyah intends to pursue a Masters degree in public policy before attending law school. 

  Theresa Govert

Theresa Govert

Theresa Govert is a founder & the Chair of Together We Rise CT (TWRCT), a non-partisan group based out of East Haddam, CT that started after a 8’x4’ sign she had painted with, “‘Dear Muslims, Immigrants, Women, Disabled, LGBTQ+ folks and People of Color. We love you- boldly & proudly. We will endure’- Shaun King” was defaced in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Since then TWRCT, has brought together hundreds of people from the Lower CT River Valley, an area with predominantly white communities, to think and learn more about issues related to justice and the intersections of oppression.  This includes a weekly vigil and action email, which gives people the space to build an engaged community and the tools to demand a government & society that works for all people. Theresa is a recently returned Peace Corps Volunteer.  She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.  In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.  Before joining the Peace Corps, Theresa graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Psychology & Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

Sarah Prager

Sarah Prager

Sarah Prager grew up in Simsbury, where she came out at the age of fourteen. Now married to her wife, Liz, and a new mom to their baby Eleanor, she lives in Wallingford as a writer and entrepreneur. Sarah is the creator of the LGBTQ history mobile app, Quist, used by thousands around the world. Her work with Quist has gotten her invited to the White House; the offices of Google, Twitter, and Microsoft; the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City; and universities in four countries. Her first book, Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, comes out May 23 from HarperCollins. Sarah is also the co-founder of Resistance Mamas-New Haven County, a group of activist moms.

Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri

Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri

Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri is the Director of Advocacy and Program Development at Junta for Progressive Action. Ana Maria helped create and leads the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) a coalition of immigrant, faith, labor, youth and community organizations. Through CIRA, she helps plan legislative and grassroots campaigns that push for progressive pro-immigrant policies in the state. Ana Maria is also the past Political Director at the Working Families Organization where she managed grassroots legislative campaigns involving economic equality for women.

Dena Simmons

Dena Simmons


Dena Simmons, Ed.D., is an activist, educator, and student of life from the Bronx, NY, who later moved to Waterbury, CT. She serves as the Director of Education at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She writes and speaks nationally about social justice and culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy as well as creating emotionally intelligent and safe classrooms within the context of equity. Dena has been profiled in Huffington Post, Education Week, the AOL/PBS project, MAKERS: Women Who Make America, and a Beacon Press Book, Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists.

Lindsey Tengatenga

Lindsey Tengatenga

Lindsey Tengatenga is the Executive Director of Public Allies Connecticut (PACT), an organization working to create a more just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. In this role, Lindsey uses her experience in team development, adult learning, leadership coaching, creativity and collaboration to support homegrown, emerging leaders and organizations in Connecticut’s major cities to make meaningful change. A Chicago native, her volunteer work in Connecticut since she arrived in 2004 has been largely centered around community dialogue and civic participation efforts, policy work to support youth with incarcerated parents, farmers’ markets, and various local boards. Lindsey now lives in New Haven with her husband and 3-year-old daughter and loves to frequent her neighborhood library, coffee shops, and hiking trails, play volleyball, and root for the Cubs.


Small, Curated Silent Auction Featuring the Work of Young Women Under 40.

Artsmith Studio 

Colemama Creations 

Designer Dwellings 

Emma Lyn Designs 

Ere and Moss 


New Nature Arts 

Payne and Comfort 

Rayne Home Décor 

Fresh Wraps by W+E Coastal

Kate Stephen Jewelry 


Planning Committee:

Kate Farrar, CWEALF (Co-Chair)

Michelle Noehren, Commission on Women, Children and Seniors/Young Women Rising (Co-Chair)

Rebecca Cramer, Yale Working Women’s Network

Meg Green

Ronae Mason-Craig

Marinda Monfilston, Yale Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Alison Stein, Partner, Jenner & Block LLP







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