Young Woman of the Month: Wildaliz Bermudez {May 2016}

WB

Wildaliz Bermudez

Age 33

Hartford, Connecticut (in the Asylum Hill neighborhood)

Q. Can you tell us a little about your life path? What are you doing in your career and community right now and what lead you there?

A. I grew up in Hartford. At a young age my parents signed me and my siblings up as Sheff v O’Neill plaintiffs in the landmark desegregation case. They fought for students in Hartford to gain access to quality education and integrated schools. Activism was an integral part of my upbringing, and since my childhood, activism has led me wherever I go.

I completed my bachelors’ degree at Trinity College and earned my Masters degree in Puerto Rico at the Universidad Metropolitana in Environmental Studies.

I would describe my life path being that of many steps along a road that each day, leads me closer to unfolding meaning.

After working as a Community Liaison for the Hartford Mayor’s office and a Community Organizer for a local non-profit, the more public meetings I attended, the more I realized that in order to move policy forward we also need elected officials who can voice the community’s concerns and push progressive policies. That’s part of what inspired me to run for City Council in Hartford.

Within my community, I am an elected Hartford City Councilwoman with the Working Families Party. Being on City Council is a fulfilling way for me to serve my community. Nine of us on City Council represent 125,000 Hartford residents. I work with diverse neighborhood groups and agencies to protect the interest of our residents.

In my professional career, I am the Director of Communications for a non-profit environmental agency- the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV).

Q. What does young women’s leadership mean to you?

A. Young women’s leadership means engaging young women in their community to work on issues that impact their lives and the lives of other young women.

I also believe young women’s leadership creates the space for other young women to develop their leadership potential and getting them to participate in ways that challenge them to step forward to advocate for causes they believe in. Having a platform available to young women is crucial component in leadership growth.

For example, this summer I will have three young women interns working at City Hall with me- a recent high school grad, a sophomore in college and a recent masters grad. They’ll be working on a project documenting women’s stories in Hartford. This project will create space for young women to learn from other women in the community and to grow various organizing skills themselves. At the end of the project we will hold a women’s summit on the issue of wage disparity.

Q. Do you consider yourself a feminist? What does feminism mean to you?

A. Yes, absolutely I consider myself a feminist. Feminism for me means standing firmly to fight for equality for women. Issues like equal pay and paid family leave are policy items that I believe to be among the top issues for women in reducing the economic gender gap.

Q. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other young women, ages 18-35, about how to build their leadership skills or the importance of becoming a leader?

A. They say you are the six people you typically hang out with. So, make sure you hang out with people that make you grow and then, you will blossom. If the people you surround yourself with on the other hand are energy zappers then, you might not get very too far in reaching your full potential.

Another important piece of advice is to never stop being inquisitive and don’t stop challenging yourself. Personal growth requires being uncomfortable and asking tough questions of yourself and the world around you.

Young Women Rising celebrates one young woman each month by sharing their story here on our blog. If you know of a young woman between the ages of 18-35 that we should consider including please email us at michelle.noehren@cga.ct.gov.

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