2020 Visionaries: Celebrating Chicago Women

CHICAGO -- As we all celebrate Women's History Month and the approaching 100th anniversary of women's right to vote, ABC7 turns the spotlight on some wonderful women making history and a difference in their communities.

You'll meet a woman on a mission, helping thousands overcome homelessness and substance abuse, hear how a local lawyer has righted more wrongful convictions than any other private attorney in the US. Meet the Humboldt Park Gators, an amazing group of young women who are set to "shake up'" things on the baseball diamond, facing off against boy teams this summer! See the passion project of a south suburban woman to give teenagers a place to call their own and discover how a beauty pageant is not only empowering women but making their communities better!

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ABC7 turns the spotlight on some wonderful women making history and a difference in their communities, including T. "Ayo" Alston of the Ayodele Drum & Dance Circle and Priscilla Steinmetz of the Bridge Teen Center.



Ayodele Drum & Dance Circle
Ayodele Drum and Dance exists to foster community from a feminine perspective through the study and performance of diasporic African drum and dance. T. "Ayo" Alston built this program based on her own experience. Raised with no mother, Ayo had to find her own path in a community that couldn't help her foster the rhythm of drum and dance through a feminine perspective. Now a Mother to kids that participate in the program, Ayo has taken lessons she's learned from the past to help young women that come from similar upbringings and transform them into warriors through the practice of drum, dance, and family.

www.ayodeledrumanddance.com

The Bridge Teen Center/Priscilla Steinmetz
Seeing a disturbing trend of teen bullying, depression and even suicide, Priscilla Steinmetz and her husband Rob set out to create a place where teenagers in the southern suburbs could go to feel accepted and comforted. That special place is the Bridge Teen Center in Orland Park. For nearly 10 years now, it has been a wonderful place for teens to gather, do homework, learn new skills and just hang out. They offer hundreds of activities and workshops year-round and have served nearly 9,000 teens from 128 different communities over the years.

The Bridge Teen Center
15555 71st Ct
Orland Park
www.thebridgeteencenter.org


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ABC7 turns the spotlight on some wonderful women making history and a difference in their communities, including the all-female Humboldt Park Gators baseball team.



Humboldt Park Gators
When youth baseball takes the field once again this summer, a unique team will be among the ranks. The Humboldt Park Gators is Chicago's only all-girl team now entered to play in a youth league against predominantly boy teams. They formed last summer and began practicing just a few hundred yards away from the lagoon where 'Chance the Snapper' had been spotted, hence the name! Under Coach Chip Mitchell's guidance, the girls have been practicing indoors for most of the winter.

https://www.facebook.com/HumboldtParkGators/

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ABC7 turns the spotlight on some wonderful women making history and a difference in their communities, including the leaders behind the Miss Chinese Chicago pageant and attorney Kathleen Zellner.



Miss Chinese Chicago
You may think of evening gown and swimsuit competitions when you think of beauty pageants but many pageants provide a special place for women to showcase their talents and connect with their communities. The Miss Chinese Chicago pageant was created to provide the women of Chinatown with female role models and help shape the next generation of Chinese American female leaders.

www.misschinesechicago.info

Kathleen Zellner
Millions turned to the Netflix Docu-series, "Making a Murderer," where Kathleen T. Zellner served as Steven Avery's post-conviction lawyer. Her attention to detail and extensive re-testing of evidence left many questioning Avery's guilty sentence. But Zellner was a superstar lawyer long before this high-profile case. She has righted more wrongful convictions than any other private attorney in the U.S.

www.kathleentzellner.com

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ABC7 turns the spotlight on some wonderful women making history and a difference in their communities, including Neli Vazquez Rowland of A Safe Haven.



A Safe Haven/Neli Vazquez Rowland
Neli Vazquez Rowland and her husband, Brian Rowland, both had successful business careers here in Chicago. After Brian overcame addition, they set out to help others. They began by launching a small shelter in a condo building in Logan Square 25 years ago. Now, Neli heads their passion project, called A Safe Haven. A Safe Haven offers drug and alcohol treatment programs and a variety of housing options, including a homeless shelter, a free meal program, GED programs, job training and placement programs. In fact, the couple's impressive work has been recognized nationally, garnering the White House Champions of Change award back in 2014.

A Safe Haven
2750 Roosevelt Rd
Chicago, IL 60608
773-435-8300
www.asafehaven.org