The Southeast Kansas chapter of National Organization for Women (SEK NOW) will present the third annual SEK Wonder Woman award to Sarah Chenoweth of Pittsburg, Kansas at the 2020 Pittsburg Women’s March on January 25.
The SEK Wonder Woman award was created to honor a local woman who works to uphold feminist ideals.
“It's important to recognize that feminism isn't just happening on a national level, it's happening on a regional and local level as well,” said Jessena Schultze, treasurer for SEK NOW. “By recognizing local feminists with this award, we hope to praise the grassroots efforts that make systemic change possible.”
Lyn Schultze, secretary for SEK NOW, also discussed Chenoweth’s qualifications for the award.
“Sarah Chenoweth won overwhelmingly because of her outstanding record of community involvement and support of not only women’s rights, but the right of all people to live their lives freely without fear of discrimination, prejudice, or bias,” she said. “She epitomizes the feminist ideals that SEK NOW advocates.”
Chenoweth was nominated by both Megan Johnson and Cyndee Matlock, independent of each other. Johnson cited Chenoweth’s term serving on the Pittsburg City Commission as one of her many qualifications, noting that in this position, “she advocated for the rights, safety, and security of Pittsburg’s most vulnerable populations.” Johnson pointed out that Chenoweth is the youngest woman to ever serve on the city commission, and that, “as a Commissioner Sarah frequently brought important issues, such as the environment and economic inequality, to the table that were otherwise largely ignored. (…) It’s hard to imagine a woman more deserving of this award.”
Chenoweth is an activist for women, people in poverty, and the environment. She serves on the board of Women Helping Women and the SEK Humane Society. She also recently established an endowment fund at the Community Foundation of SEK for Women Helping Women, which provides emergency grants to Southeast Kansas women in need.
“Sarah has been a strong force behind Women Helping Women,” said Laura Washburn of Women Helping Women. “In addition to coordinating grant awards with the Community Foundation, her generous endowment to the fund means that Women Helping Women has a stronger basis for continuing to support women in need in times of crisis.”
In addition to her activism and philanthropy, Chenoweth is a local business owner. She and her husband, Ben Buttler, founded Pittsburg Recycles, LLC, Pittsburg’s only curb-side recycling service. They also recently purchased a building in downtown Pittsburg that will become Herb’n Farms and provide year-round organic local produce.
“I am humbled and honored to be chosen” said Chenoweth. “We are living in an exciting time when women can be superheroes, scientists, CEOs, and even president. I live every day thinking about the women who came before who fought for our right to be at the table, and about the women who will come after to carry the torch; I just hope I can be an inspiration, in some small way, for those women to keep fighting for their rights and reaching for their dreams. We are better together.”
As the newest SEK Wonder Woman, Chenoweth will be honored at the 2020 Pittsburg Women’s March and Rally in Pittsburg, where she will receive a plaque and a $200 donation to a charity of her choice. Chenoweth chose Q Space for the donation, “for their involvement in fighting for equal rights recently in local politics.” Q Space is a local organization that petitioned the city commission to create an ordinance protecting people from discrimination based on a number of factors, including race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
The 2020 Pittsburg Women’s March and Rally is Jan. 25 starting at 1 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion, 12th and Broadway. The march will end at Pritchett Pavilion, 2nd and Broadway, with a rally featuring speakers including new Wonder Woman Sarah Chenoweth, Pittsburg Mayor Dawn McNay, Lane Phifer, a PSU student who will speak about gender and identity issues, and Ali Smith, who will talk about Q-Space. This will be the third annual Women’s March sponsored by SEK NOW and will kick off a year of events celebrating the Centennial of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.