September 17, 2018

Spokane Women Together Panel Discussion Recap

Thank you!

Thank you to all who attended our Spokane Women Together: Portraits and Stories Panel Discussion last Thursday! Our panelists were inspiring and their wisdom through growing together was evident to our audience. Our CEO Regina Malveaux said of the event “It was such a special evening hearing the stories of extraordinary women living in our community and learning about how women of such varied background came together expressly for the purpose of educating themselves about cultures they new little about or perhaps did not understand. The unexpected friendships that formed over both shared and unique experiences are heartening and clearly a lesson for us all.”

Event Recap

Our event began with a viewing of the exhibit. Audience members had the opportunity to see the incredible work from Rick Singer, a local photographer and portraitist. Some work may be seen below in our gallery of the event, or his photos may be seen in the Portraits and Stories video.

After audience members had to opportunity to view the exhibit, they gathered to see the Portraits and Stories video and hear from members of the Spokane Women Together group. The founding members of this group explained how they came to create this diverse group of women of many faiths who have joined together to create a community of support, laughter, friendship, food, conversation, and service.

Lessons Learned

The women came together out of a question posed by Hilary Hart, a graphic designer in Spokane. Hilary wanted to know why a woman would wear a Hijab. Due to Western notions of the Hijab and Islamic faith, she felt the Hijab would be a way to control women. She contacted Spokane’s local Mosque, asking if she could speak to a female Muslim on the subject. Here, she met Kawkab Shishani, where the two spent hours discussing religion and culture over a meal. This was their first “opportunity to learn about what you think about others,” an experience the women of the group would have time and time again. From here, the group expanded to include other women all over Spokane to provide a space to eat, learn, and grow as women. Our panelists believe the group has “become like a sisterhood. These women are like family.”


Our panelists focused on the importance of food over the course of the discussion. For them, “food has become a vehicle that connects us and helps us experience something new about one another.”  When they gather each member brings a dish representing their culture. They highlighted that sharing meals from their individual cultures allowed others to grow in their knowledge of other cultures.

The group is very focused on diversity in Spokane and allowing a space for that diversity to flourish. One member of the group cited Spokane’s “quiet diversity under the surface” that, from discussions like Thursday’s, may be discovered. However, it is also up to the community to seek our these diverse experiences. Our panelists believe “to receive a full perspective of life we need to step outside of our immediate networks and comfort zones.”

To help facilitate these types of opportunities Hilary Hart, the group’s convener enlisted the help of her husband, Rick Singer, to photograph members of the group. The photos were used to create the Spokane Women Together: Portraits and Stories exhibit and this compelling video which has gone viral. Prior to being hosted by the YWCA Spokane, the exhibit was featured at Gonzaga University and the Spokane Public Library.

One of the greatest values cited by this exceptional  group of women is their goal of “mutually evolving together,” a value that is sure to build healthy and caring communities. We are so grateful to have hosted this amazing group of women! If you would like to learn more about the group please like their Facebook page for more updates.

Get involved

A huge thank you to our Racial and Social Justice Committee who coordinated this event! If you would like to join the YWCA Spokane Racial and Social Justice Committee, please contact Rachel Bectol at for more information on how to get involved.

Please see our gallery below for photos from the event!

By: Olivia Moorer

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