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Jessica Zachs, founder of Dignity Grows, to be named Woman of the Year

November 22, 2023 Hartford, Conn. The Village for Families and Children’s annual Girl Within event will return at the Connecticut Convention Center on Friday, December 1 to raise funds that help support local women and girls in Greater Hartford, who have been affected by trauma and other challenges, through life-changing services at The Village.

Now in its twenty-third year, Girl Within has raised nearly $1.6 million since its inception for programs that help women and girls to heal and build resilience, confidence and independence. The event will feature powerful stories from Village clients, and guests will hear from this year’s honorees, who have made impactful contributions to support women and girls across Greater Hartford.

The Village has named Jessica Zachs, CEO and Chair of Dignity Grows, as the 2023 Girl Within Woman of the Year in honor of her advocacy and philanthropic endeavors that uplift and empower women, girls and those who cannot always find their own voice.

“We are honored to recognize Jessica as our 2023 Girl Within Woman of the Year for her extraordinary leadership and advocacy for women, girls and all people in need,” said Village President and CEO Galo Rodriguez. “Jessica leads and inspires others through her dedication to our community and ensures that each person whose life she touches is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

As the leader of the local nonprofit with a national impact, Zachs is dedicated to helping ensure gender, health and economic equity for those who are unable to afford or access monthly comprehensive and menstrual hygiene products, all of which are basic human needs. Her work has inspired the creation of 59 additional chapters of Dignity Grows in 27 states, in addition to the flagship chapter in Hartford.

“I am honored to be recognized by the Village for Families & Children, an organization that for over 200 years has been focused on the individual, family and community. The mission, vision and work of Dignity Grows is committed to the same values, helping to uplift and empower our neighbors and build brighter tomorrows,” Zachs said.

Rocky Hill High School senior Grace DiTunno was named 2023 Young Woman of the Year in recognition of her work in various leadership positions in her community. DiTunno serves as president of Girl Up, an international student club through which she annually raises over 1,500 period products for her town. She also created a panel for her peers to gain career insights from an inspiring, diverse group of women, and as captain of her cross country and track teams she led a dialogue for her teammates about eating disorders and healthy eating, a widespread issue in running sports.

Past honorees include:

  • Jennifer Steadman (2022)
  • Paula S. Gilberto (2021)
  • Racquel L. Santana (2020)
  • Estela López (2019)
  • Carrie Firestone (2018)
  • Francine Christiansen (2017)
  • Alison Coolbrith (2016)
  • Carle Mowell (2015)
  • JoAnn Price (2014)
  • Linda Carlson (2013)
  • Sallie Norris (2012)
  • Janet Bailey (2011)

To learn more visit thevillage.org/gw23.