Eveline Shen’s departure is a major transition for Forward Together. Ev is a dynamic leader who for more than two decades grew Forward Together to a national, multi-issue, multiracial organization that centers reproductive, racial and gender justice.
Ev joined Forward Together in 1999 when the organization was named Asian Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health (APIRH). Her first responsibility was developing a summer program to empower low-income, middle school–aged Asian girls. She was hungry to work at the intersection of race, gender and sexuality and was inspired to develop the kind of summer program she wished she had growing up as an Asian American daughter of immigrants in Colorado. Ev’s commitment to leadership development and movement building has fueled the many offerings that Forward Together has shared, like the groundbreaking paper, A New Vision, which became a central analysis of the framework and vision for reproductive justice, as well as a tool for the movement.
As she was creating her first programs with a focus on leadership development, Ev planted seeds for more to come. She grew these seeds by bringing together movement leaders from across the country to ground in movement building.
Ev led Forward Together in developing the Strong Families Network. She created the Stepping Into Power movement-building fellowship, which supported the thriving of leaders of color in the social justice movement and curated space for individuals and organizations to dream and create together. Courageous Practice (formerly known as Forward Stance) is now an organization-wide and movement-wide mind/body practice. Ev, in collaboration with Norma Wong, brought this practice to the movement. Most recently, Ev led Forward Together in the creation of a new 501c4, Forward Together Action.
Over the past 6 years, Ev created and ran Stepping Into Power, an innovative nine month program, which so far has provided intensive leadership development to 85 BIPOC women and non-binary leaders of color across the country. Her visionary contributions and nurturing of the movement has been far reaching – far more than we can actually name here. We will remain eternally grateful for her service and stewardship. We support the next chapter in her life with full heart and spirit. We look forward to Ev continuing her work in the movement through continued work with Stepping Into Power, ongoing development of her Courageous Operating System, publishing her book on Courageous Leadership, and coaching BIPOC women and non-binary leaders.
We are also excited to announce that Ev is handing the reins of the organization to two dynamic co-executive directors, Wendy Calimag and Diana Lugo-Martinez, who will lead Forward Together’s exciting next phase. As internal hires with intimate knowledge of Forward Together’s work, they are well poised to lead the organization through this transition. We’re excited to see the ways they lead Forward Together in new directions around culture shift and power building in the future.
Wendy Calimag has served as the Forward Together Deputy Director of Operations for two and half years. Over the last 15 years, Wendy was committed to uplifting the experiences of girls and women of color. Prior to coming to Forward Together, Wendy served in senior and executive roles in girl-serving organizations in Oakland and San Francisco, developing and supporting civic engagement, reproductive health, and college and career readiness programs for middle and high school girls from under-resourced communities. Wendy believes in the power of collective impact and served in a number of community initiatives in the Bay Area, including the Girls and Women of Color Collaborative (formerly Breaking the Silence Town Hall Collaborative). Wendy holds an MSW with a concentration in social and economic development and its impacts on children, youth and families.
For the last three and a half years, Diana Lugo-Martinez has served as Forward Together’s Movement Strategy Director, supporting the movement building and cultural strategy team. Diana brings over 15 years of experience in civic engagement, politics, academia and leadership development in a variety of social justice areas. Prior to joining Forward Together, Diana was the Senior Director of Community Engagement Programs at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice where she managed the community mobilization department. She previously served as an administrator at New York University, and also served as an adjunct at the school’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Diana holds an MPA in Health Policy and Management and an MS in Global Affairs.
As Ev wraps up her tenure at the helm of Forward Together, the Forward Together and Forward Together Action boards wish Ev the best as she continues to support the leadership of women of color in the movement. We welcome Diana and Wendy into new leadership roles and are excited by the new opportunities their co-executive directorship will bring. With full breath we continue to step forward together.