Since 1980, YWCA Richmond has celebrated local women leading our region and inspiring future leaders through its annual Outstanding Women Awards.  We recognize the following women who have been selected as the 43rd Outstanding Women Awards honorees in nine different categories:


Ashley Hawkins is the co-founder of Studio Two Three, a community driven arts organization. The studio began as a small print shop and today is home to 180 artists and 4 small nonprofits organizations. The studio brings people from all economic, racial, and cultural backgrounds together to co-create daily. For over a decade, Studio Two Three has served as a powerful convener for Richmond arts and culture, connecting with 25,000 people a year through classes, workshops, markets, conferences, and community events. Ashley believes in the role of the arts in civic voice, and has created partnerships with grassroots organizations, school districts, and individuals to further activism through art in Richmond. 


Dee Ann Remo founded Heritage Wealth Advisors in 2005 with the vision of creating a firm that delivers comprehensive financial solutions to clients in an innovative and collaborative way. Today, with over $3 billion under management and offices in Richmond, VA, and Pittsburgh, PA, Heritage has grown to provide comprehensive multi-family office and foundation endowment services. In 2021, the firm established The Foundation for Financial Independence, focused on building wealth among communities that have historically been excluded from opportunities. Dee Ann is a thoughtful and inspirational mentor for young financial services professionals. Throughout her career, she has shared her keen business and financial acumen in philanthropy through her board service with numerous nonprofits, including The Valentine, Sports Backers, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, and the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond. 


Dr. Paula Pando is President of Reynolds Community College – the youngest and among the largest and most diverse of Virginia’s community colleges. Since 2018 she has led Reynolds to provide pathways for students to realize upward economic and social mobility through education that prepares them for high demand jobs that pay a living wage. Recognizing that “life” got in the way for too many students trying to complete their degree, she championed the creation of robust wraparound supports including opening food pantries on all campuses, establishment of emergency grants, and significant investments in critical front line professionals to help students navigate college from application through graduation. These and other efforts reversed a decade-long trend of enrollment declines. More students are enrolling, more are completing, and performance gaps are decreasing.  Dr. Pando also serves on multiple boards, including the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Chamber RVA, The Valentine, and is a Fellowship alumna of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in partnership with Stanford University. 


Paulette McElwain is the President and CEO of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood (VLPP). She has led VLPP for fifteen years and has grown VLPP significantly in size, scope, and impact. Paulette’s leadership continues to foster the creation of innovative and compassionate programs to meet the needs of the communities the affiliate serves. VLPP’s programs now include primary care, and a transgender health services program that quickly grew into the largest trans health program in Virginia with a reputation that brings patients from as far away as West Virginia and North Carolina. Paulette continues to be a fierce advocate and spokesperson for individuals’ right to access the healthcare that fits their needs.


Sheba Williams is the founder of Nolef Turns, a nonprofit agency that provides direct services and advocates for people in Virginia with felony convictions. She has dedicated herself to helping Virginians accused of felonies understand their charges; restoring the civil rights of individuals who have been convicted of felonies; preparing people in prison for re-entry into our region; and meeting with legislators to pass laws that remove the policies and stigmas around a past conviction. Sheba serves on Virginia NORML, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Maggie Walker Community Land Trust’s Citizen Advisory Panel, Richmond Black Restaurant Experience, Henrico/Hanover Re-Entry Council, Virginia Expungement Council and the Virginia Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Boards. Sheba is an alumni of Just Leadership USA, Virginia Progressive Leadership Project, National Juvenile Justice Network, New Leaders Council and she lives with a felony conviction after being wrongfully convicted in 2004. In 2021, as a member of the Virginia Expungement Council, Sheba and others were successful in helping pass the first ever record sealing bill for people with convictions in the state of Virginia. 


For over 30 years, Susheela Varky has been a fierce advocate for low-income people, especially survivors of domestic and sexual violence. As an attorney for Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC), the statewide support nonprofit for all civil legal aid offices in Virginia, she has advocated to improve laws for low-income survivors and the legal aid attorneys who represent them. Susheela founded VPLC’s Legal Assistance to Victim-Immigrants of Domestic Abuse (LA VIDA) program, which provides free legal assistance to immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. 


Michele Rhudy founded Rhudy & Co. Strategic Communications in 2003 and now employs 20 experts in corporate, internal, and external communications. Her client list includes Fortune 500 companies, global networks, and large nonprofit organizations. Michele served as President of the Richmond chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and on the Virginia Council of CEOs Board of Directors. She was named NAWBO Richmond’s 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year and a Style Weekly Top 40 Under 40 honoree. She often donates her expertise, and helped found Impact 100, Girl Power Grants, and BabyIn BabyOut in the Richmond region. 


Tanya M. González has devoted more than 20 years to serving the Latinx community in Richmond and is currently the Executive Director of the Sacred Heart Center of Richmond. She developed the Hispanic Liaison Office in the City of Richmond (later the Office of Multicultural Affairs), and founded many cultural events like Imagine Festival and El Juguetazo in South Richmond – both conceived to engage families and enhance community connections. 


Rudene Haynes is a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth, where she serves as a firmwide hiring partner and member of the Executive Committee, and is passionate about fostering environments that embraces differences, promotes equality and creating a culture of inclusion where individuals can excel in the legal profession and in our region. As a member of the Advisory Board at the Massey Cancer Center at VCU, she is passionate about ending health disparities and racial inequities. Rudene was a co-founder of “Facts & Faith Fridays,” a series of weekly calls with the Black faith community to provide accurate information on COVID-19, transmission, vaccination and improving health outcomes. She is currently a Board Member of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation and the Richmond and Henrico Public Health Foundation. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees for YWCA Richmond and the Children’s Museum of Richmond, and a former member of the Board of Governors for the Virginia Bar Association.