The Rising Outstanding Woman Award (ROWA) is an annual award recognizing a local emerging leader between the ages of 25-40 who is making an impact in our community and who is a voice for social change.


Each year, the Rising Outstanding Woman receives $2,500 to further their personal leadership and professional development.

The 2021 ROWA Application is now closed.  We are currently reviewing nominations and applications, and we will announce the award recipient at the OWA Virtual Leadership Forum on Tuesday, May 11.

About the Rising Outstanding Woman Award

ROWA looks to recognize a local emerging leader who:

  • Has a strong connection and engagement with the greater Richmond community
  • Has a passion for and is contributing toward social change
  • Demonstrates leadership and has a vision for her community

Consideration for this award is open to any woman who:

  • Is between the ages of 25 and 40 years old.
  • Resides or works in Richmond City, Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Goochland, or Powhatan County.

Additional details:

  • The ROWA winner will receive an award honoring her community involvement at the 2021 OWA Leadership Breakfast on May 11, 2021.
  • The winner will receive $2,500 to further her leadership development.

Meet Crystal Benjamin, the 2020 ROWA winner


Crystal Benjamin is the Owner of Black Belt Diva, mobile women’s empowerment unit uplifting and educating women through safety awareness.  As a Certified Martial Arts Instructor, Crystal had a desire to intertwine her love for human service and passion as a lifelong public servant; as a result, her mission to empower women was born.


Crystal strongly believes that “passing the baton of wisdom and knowledge” by cultivating each other is one of the ways that women can successfully succeed.  She was recognized for her community efforts by being inducted into  The Prince George/Hopewell Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Class of Top 40 Under 40.


She’s expressed her platform of women’s empowerment through safety and awareness by partnering with the Richmond Public Library, presenting at The 11th Annual Hampton Roads Conference for Girls and Young Women, and speaking on college campuses.


Crystal is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration at Walden University.


Learn more about Black Belt Diva by visiting: