Soroptimists International Corvallis, Ruby Award Speech

On May 19th 2019, I was honored to receive the Soroptimist Ruby Award: For Women Helping Women” from Soroptimists International Corvallis. The Ruby Award is given to a woman who has worked to improve the lives of women and girls, has had a significant impact on the lives of women and girls, and inspires and encourages other women. 

The award was given at their annual spring tea, and I gave the speech below:

Thank you. Activism and community organizing is often thankless and underappreciated work, so I feel deeply seen and truly honored to receive this award today and to get an opportunity to draw attention to some causes that are important to me.

As they said in my introduction, I am Dr. Ada-Rhodes Short. Throughout my day I wear a variety of different hats; currently I am the senior mechatronic design engineer at Lora DiCarlo, which is a company that is making space for women in the tech industry while confronting the stigma around sexual health and sexual pleasure of women and people with vaginas. Additionally, I teach engineering and design at OSU several times a week, where I treasure the opportunity to interact with students and help shape them into more compassionate and empathetic humans. 

However, what I am most proud of is my work as an advocate and community organizer in the queer community; which has included everything from co-founding the first LGBTQIA group at Baylor University (which is the worlds largest private Baptist university). To my work here in Corvallis where I strove to create mutual aid networks within the local trans and queer community. The work I did continues as Corvallis Trans Support, and is being carried on by a new generation of activists and community leaders. For more information on how to support them please find me later in the day and ask how you can help.

As you likely know the Ruby award recipient gets to pick a charity to receive a one-thousand-dollar donation. I found choosing a charity to donate to particularly challenging, and I found myself frozen with indecision. So I did what I often do when I am unsure of how to proceed, I turned to my community and the chosen family that surrounds me and asked them for their advice. 

The most common response was that I should choose Trans lifeline, which is a grassroots, trans run hotline and microgrant giving non-profit that offers direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis. They have given out nearly three-hundred-thousand dollars directly to trans people who desperately needed it, and answered over sixty-six-thousand phone calls from trans folks in crisis. I would highly recommend that you take the time to look them up and consider giving to their cause, which has personally helped members of the local Corvallis community and saved the lives of people I consider to be family.

However, the most valuable thing I gained from these conversations with the people I hold in beloved community wasn’t an answer of who to give to, but how they chose to direct their love and attention and care. In our daily struggle against the rise of fascism, the rollback of civil rights protections, and the looming threat of climate change. It is so easy to focus on how we choose to direct our hate, anger, and frustration into the world, but I implore you, to PLEASE take time to turn to those around you and ask them “how do you choose to love today” and to hold their answers sacred in your heart.

Thank you

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