Champion of Change: Cecilia M. Gastón


Cecilia M. Gastón is a feminist leader, advocate for women’s and immigrant rights, a philanthropist, NGO manager and a survivor.  She was born in Havana, Cuba to a Cuban father and Mexican mother. She traveled often between the two countries, speaking with two Spanish accents, and learning flexibility and acceptance of different cultures at an early age. In 1961, she immigrated with her family to the United States. This uniquely bicultural and multinational background, coupled with her family’s high standard for academics and social awareness, has given her a distinct perspective in her work with Latino and disenfranchised communities.

Cecilia has been a member of the NY Women’s Foundation Grants Committee, first joining the group as a client of a grantee. Through the foundation and her work, she has learned that women of all backgrounds – from women of privilege to newly arrived immigrants – must work to build and cross bridges together to have more power and influence.

Cecilia is also executive director of Violence Intervention Project (VIP), which offers housing, job training and social support to survivors of domestic violence and abuse. She has been a board member of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and has represented the Coalition of Domestic Violence Providers on the NYC Continuum of Care. She also is a member of the NYC Commission on Gender Equity, founding member of the Gender Justice Task Force and member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence.

We celebrate her retirement from a long and committed career to improve women’s rights in solidarity with all communities. “Women must stand shoulder to shoulder to fight discrimination and injustice," she says. "When all women come together, we can break down class and race, then things will change.” 

Cecilia is one of the many inspiring people selected as part of our Champions of Change campaign, which honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Metro New York area and globally.

Mikki Brammer