Guest editor Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys shares stories that reflect her passion for true justice

In addition to our weekly newsletter, we have launched a monthly Lakeshore newsletter curated by guest editors. For June, we invited Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys to bring her unique perspective to the work our team does at The Lakeshore. 

Jenkins Leys is the co-founder of Women of Color Give, a giving circle with a fund housed at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. The growing philanthropy collective seeks to reframe the philanthropic narrative where women of color stewards of change. The group meets that mission by awarding grants focused on the development, advancement, and promotion of Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC) along the Lakeshore.

A native of St. Kitts, Jenkins Leys has become a voice for equity and inclusion in our community since moving to Holland nearly a decade ago with her husband. She has also taken on several roles in the Lakeshore nonprofit sector and is currently CFHZ’s director of Community Impact and a College Success coach. Jenkins Leys serves on the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance and Massachusetts-based Hands Across the Sea boards of directors and is a graduate of West Coast Leadership. Her work has been highlighted by several organizations. The city of Holland’s Human Relations Commission presented her with the 2020 Social Justice Award for Community Relations, and she received the Equity Matters Award in 2016 as well as the Leadership Matters Award in 2020 from the Holland/Zeeland Young Professionals. 

We salute the dedication of Jenkins Leys for her work along the Lakeshore to promote equity and inclusion. In this special edition, she shares stories that focus on promoting diversity in our community and the current work taking place.

The leadership team of Women of Color Give.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep awareness and attunement to the cause of those oppressed by systems and institutions. I am a Black (Afro-Caribbean), cis woman raising two biracial, bicultural children in West Michigan. I have personally experienced anti-Black racism, sexism, and stereotype threat that impact how I show up and experience life daily. I am passionate about addressing inequities built into systems and encouraging people to lean into their power to co-create spaces where we all thrive.

This month, the Lakeshore WM has offered me an opportunity to take on the role of June’s Guest Editor, so I thought I would select articles that reflect this passion for true justice. The beginning point of justice includes awareness of both the cause and the current work taking place to bring about restitution. Over the past year, The Lakeshore WM has worked hard to cover topics that focus on the voices of those impacted by our history and systems of oppression and allow these members of our community to share their stories.

During the month of June, our nation observes LGBTQ Pride Month, where we get to direct special attention to the events of the 1969 Stonewall riots and elevate the history and ongoing fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. We also observe Juneteenth, where we celebrate the emancipation of the enslaved in this country and recommit to the work of true liberation for Black and Brown Americans. 

I invite you to take some time this month to learn about these important observances; lean into any discomfort or dissonance that may arise, re-center the voices and needs of those experiencing oppression in the stories we internalize and share; and get out there to support, lift up, invest in, and advocate for causes, businesses, and ideas led and endorsed by our Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ neighbors.

My favorite stories that lift up our neighbors:

How COVID-19 changed voting for people with disabilities

After nondiscrimination ordinance passed, the time has come to heal, advocates say

Women of Color GIVE embraces inclusive philanthropy model

Thousands line Unity Bridge, 'standing together' for justice

Spotlight Story:
Three women with a shared experience reconnect through Women of Color Give

Women of Color Give members Kim Koeman, Rebekah Bakker and Robyn Afrik.

Juneteenth returns with fun and a renewed purpose

Kaja Thornton Hunter 'overcoming barriers' in her community with full-circle moments

How an educator and advocate is building awareness and acceptance of transgender community

Immigrant entrepreneur makes a big difference in Spring Lake

Call to Action
Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys addresses a group.

I'm always happy to grab a beverage (virtually or in-person) and connect about journeying together to seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly! Feel free to reach out to connect: