On March 15th the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) held its annual Women Making History Awards. NWHW kindly invited the Congressional Commission on the American Museum of Women’s History (CCAMWH) to attend. Commissioner Maria Pesqueira and Commission Executive Director Wendy Pangburn were also invited to update the audience on the work of the independent Commission.
Each year NWHM’s ceremony honors women who are at the top of their fields and are making pathways for future generations of women. The three honorees this year were former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, ballerina Aesha Ash, and cellist Christine Walevska.
Women Making History Awards Nominees
Ann Veneman was the first and only female Secretary of Agriculture. Impressively, she was unanimously voted into the office by the Senate. Under her tenure the country saw record farm income, record agricultural exports, and the creation of stronger pest and disease control. After leaving the post Veneman became the Executive Director of UNICEF, where she highlighted the important link between the health of the mother and the health of the child.
Aesha Ash is an African American ballet dancer in a field that is predominately white. She has danced for the New York City Ballet, the Bejart Ballet, and the Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. Ash is currently retired from dancing and has started the Swans Dreams Project. The goal of her project, in the words of Aesha Ash, is “to convey the message that beauty and talent are not constrained by race or socio-economic status. I want our youth to know that they are not limited by stereotypes nor by their environment, but only by their dreams.”
Christine Walevska is a master cellist and the only living female master musician. She has been working in the classical music field for over 30 years, making her first international concert appearance at the age of 18. Her playing has inspired a number of composers to dedicate pieces to her, including Aram Kachaturian, Ferde Grofe, Jose Bragato and Ennio Bolognini. Bolognini was so enraptured with Walevska’s ability that he declared that only she should be allowed to play his cello pieces. During the award ceremony rather than give a speech Walevska played three pieces for the audience
The Women Making History Awards was incredibly beautiful and inspiring and the Commission was honored to be a part of NWHM’s festivities.