Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice

The Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice invests in a local woman in the Greater Richmond region, who is at least 50 years of age, to focus on a deeply personalized, year-long leadership and professional development journey.

YWCA Richmond recognizes one woman annually who has the passion and vision to bring about change in her own life while championing long-term social justice and change.  The fellowship is a $20,000 investment in her leadership or development project.

Nicole Jones – 2024 Pat Asch Fellow


“I am honored to have been selected as the recipient of the 2024 Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice.

As a Social Healing practitioner, I hope to embody the spirit of Pat’s legacy of advocating for the empowerment of others, specifically historically disenfranchised communities, while on this journey of self-healing.

This transformative fellowship sets the stage for women over 50 on their quest for freedom, healing, and restoration for not only their communities but also for themselves.”

– Nicole Jones, 2024 Pat Asch Fellow

Nicole Jones is a community connector and leader, guided by a deep commitment to truth, healing, and love. Her steadfast presence, commitment to self and community love, compassion, and respect show up in her work across the greater Richmond region, particularly as Deputy Director of ART 180 and Councilmember for Richmond City’s 9th District.

No matter the project or community engagement strategy, Nicole shows up as a people-first cultivator with a proven record for creating safe spaces and structural change for justice.

What makes the Pat Asch Fellowship unique is our emphasis on honoring and recognizing the whole woman. This Fellowship allows the space for a woman 50 years or better to pivot her passion for community inward – to focus on herself as she taps into her worthiness and deeper purpose.

Our fellows are women rich with passion, purpose, and life experience who have spent years focused on supporting others. They pour themselves into their families and communities to create a future where our children, loved ones, and neighbors can thrive. Nicole exemplifies this dedication. Her fellowship journey is centered on redefining her relationship with rest so she can share this healing approach with Black women in our community as they explore their authentic, sustainable contributions to all levels of society.

Nicole’s journey will begin with traveling to Ghana in community with Black women social healing practitioners from across the country. During this time, she will become immersed in Afro-Indigenous restorative practices. We are deeply honored to walk alongside Nicole as she radically reorients the relationship between rest, restoration, and social change.

Application Details

Applicants may submit a written or video narrative of their project which can be in English or Spanish.  YWCA Richmond requires submission of all of the following documents or files in order to be considered eligible for the Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice:

  1. One-page cover letter that includes a brief biography and contact information. Please remember to include date of birth to ensure age eligibility for the fellowship.
  2. Statement of intent (if written, up to three pages; if a video, up to 10 minutes) that describes:
    • Your interest in and motivation to apply for the Fellowship
    • The issue or priority to be addressed through your social justice efforts
    • The Fellowship project/experience design
    • Your intended outcomes from the Fellowship experience
    • The relationship between this project and the cause of social justice
  3. Detailed timeline and specific plan for the use of the funds.

Please email application materials to Nadia Gooray, Director of Equity and External Affairs, at

All application materials must be received by Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 5 pm.

Click here for the 2023 Pat Asch Fellowship application guidelines
  • Describe a leadership or development experience for which this Fellowship will help catapult.
  • Proposed fellowship experience should position applicant to engage in new endeavors motivated by a desire for social change.
  • Outline personal and professional goals and how the applicant intends to advance her social justice work in Richmond.

Fellowship funds can be applied to a wide range of goals such as:

  • Furthering the recipient’s own education, leadership, or professional development
  • Re-entering the workforce
  • Switching to a new career
  • Extending her work to a new social justice purpose

Consideration for this award is open to any woman who:

  • Is at least 50 years of age
  • Resides or works in Richmond City, Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Goochland, or Powhatan County

The following are not eligible for funding with the Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice:

  • Capital investments (property)
  • Operational expenses
  • Stipends or gifts for project participants and/or people other than the applicant
  • Staff and relatives of YWCA Richmond and the Fellowship Selection Committee are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship

YWCA Richmond aims to build a partnership with all Pat Asch Fellows.  Throughout the fellowship year and beyond, the YWCA Richmond wants to hear about the successes and challenges the Fellow faces along the way.  During the fellowship year, the fellow is required to share their experience at the mid-point, either in a written or video narrative, an in-person presentation, or any combination of the three. The mid-point check in will include an update on the project, reflections on personal growth, and how the project is contributing toward social change.

Here are the key dates for the application and selection process:

  • Wednesday, August 30, 2023 – Written or video application is due by 5 pm. Please submit applications to Nadia Gooray at
  • Friday, September 15, 2023 – Finalists will be notified for an interview.
  • Friday, October 13, 2023 – Fellowship recipient will be notified.
  • Late October 2023 – The 2023-2024 Pat Asch Fellow will be announced to the public.
  • May 2024 – The 2023-2024 Fellow will be invited to share a few reflections of her first few months at the 2024 Outstanding Women Awards.

Past Fellows and Their Projects