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Women's History Month: The Legacy Of Gail Aska

This month we are commemorating Women’s History Month. Together, we will Empower, Celebrate and Educate about all of the powerful women who transform our lives, communities and have made vital impacts, not only throughout our nation and world but right here at Community Voices Heard.

Our story began in 1994 when eight New York City women became fed up with oppressive policies designed to keep them and their families in poverty. At the time, welfare recipients were excluded from the ongoing debate over public assistance. They were villainized and called “welfare queens”. Our founding members wanted to upend the existing power structures and transform the social safety net into a system that would enable low-income people to transition out of poverty.

One of those women who refused to be ignored by policy-makers was Gail Aska. She was a veteran of the New York City shelter system and knew first-hand the challenges of being a mother on public assistance. She channeled her frustration and desire to bring about real change by becoming a leader who built CVH as we know it today - an organization that represents and empowers directly affected individuals.

Little did Gail and the founders know that over the next decade CVH would grow from it’s initial meeting with 80 people to one of the leading organizations working for racial, social and economic justice in the State of New York and the country, with Gail serving as CVH's Program Coordinator. During her time leading the newly established organization, Gail not only helped to push New York City to replace workfare with a transitional paid jobs program but managed to fight state-level welfare cuts in the process. She was a true inspiration to hundreds of women who were moved to join her in fighting for their rights, and the livelihoods of their families and communities.

Gail passed away in 2005, but her legacy remains strong. CVH is now the largest Black-led organizing institution working to build power in Black, Brown, and low-income communities across New York State, largely due to the powerful foundation created by Gail and the early founders.

Join us in recognizing and paying tribute to Gail Aska, a founding leader of CVH, activist, mother, and proud NYC resident, by making a donation to Community Voices Heard.

Join the movement and become an official member of Community Voices Heard to ensure Gail's legacy lives on.

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