By Lisa Cushatt and Paula Plasencia | Chrysalis Foundation board members

Throughout history, women’s movements have been powerful. They have ended civil wars, secured laws protecting millions, elected female leaders and won the right to vote.

When women are educated and empowered, leaders emerge, aspirations become truths, and entire populations thrive. For decades this has been the mantra of the women’s movement and the vanguard of social change. Wrapped in the quest for women’s rights has been the diversity of the women involved, and how race, culture, religion, gender identity and/or heritage may have prevented inclusion for many.

Embedded in the pages of history are the tenets of any movement: people working together toward a shared purpose to actively create change together. As women, we instinctively do this well – we bring people together, amplify their voices and work toward the good of ourselves and the world around us. But often, like much of history, the stories of women’s accomplishments remain hidden.

One such woman, who has been described as "the most important yet least known activists in American history," is Dolores Huerta. Like so many powerful females, her contributions are often lost in stories of creation of the first farm workers’ union, which she tirelessly co-founded with Cesar Chavez.

A formidable leader and organizer in the quest for civil rights and social justice, Huerta’s legendary strength lies in her continued persistence to engage others to stand for what they believe in and to be involved in shaping their own future. At age 89, she continues to rally others in pursuit of the rights of all people, particularly women, children, workers and the LGBTQ community.

The focus for Huerta, and her advice to all, is don’t wait to be invited  take time to become an activist. In this context, we are all activists, particularly women. Speaking up, promoting an idea, writing a letter to the editor and how we spend our money – for example, not buying goods produced by companies that exploit workers – are exercises of activism. It was Huerta who organized the five-year boycott of California grapes and who coined the phrase "Si Se Puede!" – "Yes, we can!"

While we can be overwhelmed by today’s news stories of violence and conflict, the spotlight should be on the women whose impassioned work has brought about more change than many of us realize. As women, we’re not finished yet – there is still work to be done, and we can widen the trail that women like Dolores Huerta blazed for us.

The Chrysalis Foundation will introduce the community to Dolores Huerta at its annual luncheon, the Inspired Event, on Sept. 20. The Foundation also will host a free screening of the documentary "Dolores" on Sept.  11 in partnership with Drake University. For more information on these events, visit