Courtney Santana: Speaking Strength/Voice of Hope

May 2 - On The Dot

It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: The Power of Your Voice

When I consider the qualities that make me unique, I initially think of my fingerprint, personality quirks and my propensity to be clumsy. (Just being honest). I glossed right over a major one, though: my voice. Did you know that the sound of your voice is entirely unique? It turns out, your vocal chords, vocal tract and body are distinct from everyone else’s. Your voice is entirely your own. How cool is that? Although, that thought immediately brings to mind a few questions. How can women develop strong and effective voices in this world? And where and when do we need to speak up more?


What better way to begin tackling those questions than to explore the stories of real-life women? Take Betty Reid Soskin, age 94, the oldest full-time park ranger in the United States. Soskin, who works in Richmond, California, was invited by President Obama to light the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., on Dec.. Additionally, Soskin introduced the president at the lighting ceremony. Wow, Betty. I feel like I can no longer say, “I’m too old for” anything. Thank you for empowering women everywhere and at every stage of life to express themselves.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Courtney Santana, Executive Director of Survive2Thrive Foundation

When women find and use their voices, the result is a ripple effect of inspiration, empowerment and advocacy, aka pure awesomeness. Courtney Santana is a woman who has fought for such a voice. As a child, Santana was a victim of abuse by her stepfather. Sadly, as an adult, this pattern of abuse was perpetuated by Santana’s first husband. The story could stop here, but it doesn’t, and thankfully, it’s still being written. Santana started a new chapter. She left her husband, packed up her two children and headed for SafePlace. Santana (suggested middle name “Resilient”) has since devoted herself to helping other victims of domestic violence. Her efforts have included speaking and lobbying for the Texas Council on Family Violence, serving on the foundation board of trustees at SafePlace, and co-founding the nonprofit Jonah Ministry. In 2011, Santana founded the Survive2Thrive Foundation, which provides resources for survivors of domestic violence nationwide, specifically to assist survivors in community re-integration after they leave emergency shelters. Santana and her husband, Gary, have joined forces at Survive2Thrive; she serves as the executive director and he acts as the president and CIO. Quite the impressive resume, right? Santana is also an accomplished vocalist, actress and performer. Talk about a woman who has found her voice. Now it’s your turn.


Thinking about Santana’s journey and the idea of finding your own powerful voice reminds me that it is important to start with the voice you have because, well, that’s you. And what’s more powerful than a woman being herself? The all-powerful Maya Angelou used her voice to say this: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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