Letter from the Executive Director – February 2021

Dear NYWIFT Community:

Happy V Day!

How do you love yourself, others, and your work during COVID? How can we invite, celebrate or recognize love during the pandemic?

I remember Valentine’s Days – fondly. When I was a tiny tike my dad would buy my mom a large Valentine Heart  and he would buy me a little one. My parents would go to a special dinner at a fancy restaurant in Bay Ridge. My brother and I had the keys to the TV console and stayed home and watch Chiller, Thriller or some movie they would never approve. We were only then allowed to eat Swanson TV Dinners: fried chicken with mashed potatoes and apple pie. We would let our dog ToySan a Lhasa Apso dance on the coffee table. Love didn’t need to be defined, it was like the air we breathe: present all the time.  

So during a recent staff meeting I asked the question: How are you recognizing love in your life during the pandemic? What are you doing to love yourself and others? Each of the incredible creative members on the NYWIFT Team described what they are doing to love themselves and look after the ones they love.

Here’s what they are doing:

Easmanie, seen here with her daughter and new addition Rocky, says “It’s called puppy therapy!” There’s nothing more comforting than the unconditional love of a dog.

Katie has spent every day of the last year loving her now 16-month-old puppy Bobby Barclay. Bobby thinks every new day is the best day yet – so it’s hard to feel down when he’s around! Bobby, with his ever-sunny attitude, is a popular guest star on our Zoom meetings.

Taking the time to be outdoors and around nature is how Rashiek and her husband Ray like to self-care.

Practicing yoga & mindfulness has been essential to healing Barbara’s mental and physical state during these uncertain times. Her favorite pose (picture above) is known as Wild Thing (Camatkarasana). This helps lift up the heart in order to fight depression, which further promotes love – both of self and others – peace, acceptance and self-confidence. 

As for me:  I purchased a violin and I’m finally taking those virtual music lessons I seemed to never have time for when I needed to take them in person. And yes, that’s a pic of Cashmere Coachella Lopez on the right, in the middle of her usual workday antics!

And I will be taking my goddaughter to Barnes & Noble on V Day. So we will live a little and buy hot chocolate with heart shapes and get those books we have wanted.  

All the self-help books I have read from Brene Brown and Iyanla VanZant say to find love, to feel love, you must love yourself first no matter what the circumstance. Treat ourselves with respect, dignity and kindness and do the same to others. And then in return love comes back in many forms. Even more so when the world seems to be spinning out of control, at NYWIFT we have remained grounded in a virtual kind of way and tried to thrive during this crisis. I hope you have felt it.

If you missed our 2020 Muse Awards, you can tune in to watch it online here. Love for our industry, and especially our women leaders, pervades every moment of the hour-long program, so why not make it part of your Valentine’s Day viewing? You will definitely fall in love with the women profiled.

And our Valentine’s Day gift to you is our first-ever publication, the NYWIFT Creative Workforce Summit: Diversity and Inclusion, Workplace Safety, and Pay Equity. This 68-page publication is based on the first annual NYWIFT Summit hosted by the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. The publication, which was supported by the Ford Foundation, serves as a concise summary of the lessons learned, challenges identified, and targeted next steps from the summit.

We invite you to read it online now here.

Whatever your plans this weekend, we hope you’ll take some time to breathe, relax, and love yourself. As we come up on this one-year marker for covid. During the most painful times in my life, I had to breathe and move through it. We’re all “going through it.” Even if you feel alone, you are not. We are just separate. That fact that you’re still able to get up, fight another day, and do your best – that is plenty. Thank you for continuing to be a part of our NYWIFT family.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love you.



Cynthia Lopez

Executive Director, NYWIFT