‘Women of Worth’: Rochester woman recognized with a national award

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One Rochester woman is among nine others who won a national award.

Its the L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth award, and it’s given to women who run non-profits to enact change in their communities.

“Everyone deserves to lead their own lives and live to the most potential,” Stephanie Woodward, co-founder and executive director of Disability Empowher Network, said.

Woodward says that growing up without a role model who was similar to her was difficult.

And even now that she is older, she has noticed she is often the only disabled woman in the workplace.

“And in fact, when we are employed, we are often paid less than our non-disabled colleagues, but also less than disabled men. So for every dollar a non-disabled man makes, a disabled man makes about 65 cents. Disabled woman makes $0.44. And I was not okay with any of those statistics,” Woodward said.

So, she decided she wanted to do something about it.

“So Disability EmpowHer Network is a not-for-profit organization run by and for girls and women with disabilities. And our goal is to help girls and women with disabilities see their full potential and have the confidence to lead,” Woodward said.

One key part of this is having mentors.

The organization has a year-long program that teaches mentees different skills like confidence as well as practical skills through different outings. The last one they did was camping in the Adirondacks

“I was making s’mores and cooking food and making new friends,” mentee Cecelia Tuchrello said.

Woodward isn’t CeCe’s mentor, but they’ve formed a great friendship.

Stephanie: “Were you nervous at camp?”
CeCe: “I was nervous at camp but then I got through it.”
Stephanie: “How did you get through it?”
CeCe: “‘Cause you were there with me.”

Through this award, the Disability EmpowHer Network also received $25,000.

Woodward has plans to use this money to fund a public speaking program to help get more disabled women into the work force.

“We’re really excited about this because we do have a public speaking program for adult women with disabilities, 18 and up, and we find that it’s been really impactful for their careers. Oftentimes, women come to our public speaking program not having a job and are able to land that interview after or get a huge promotion. So we’re excited because we have not been able to get a lot of grant funding for that program,” Stephanie said.

If you’d like, you can visit their website here.