Marisa Panzani, Violet Massie-Vereker, Jennie Driesen

Progressive Women of Pelham (PWP) inaugurated the annual Violet Massie-Vereker Award to honor an outstanding Pelham student who has shown a commitment to creating a more progressive community by presenting it to her.

PWP was recently organized as a nonprofit community organization that promotes inclusion and advances progressive policies and candidates. Ms. Massie-Vereker, a senior at Pelham Memorial High School (PMHS), was honored for her extraordinary leadership over the past four years.

“Violet’s ideas and organizing acumen have changed her school and our town in fundamental and lasting ways,” PWP co-chair Jennie Driesen said in her remarks. “She embodies the very definition of a progressive woman of Pelham.”

Ms. Massie-Vereker was the principal organizer and driving force behind the 2017 March for America - the first political march in Pelham history – in support of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, immigrant, LGTBQ, and women’s rights. She received the New York State Assembly’s Women of Distinction award, granted by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, for her work on the march.She is the first Pelham teenager to be honored by this award.

In 2018, two days after the Parkland school shooting, she led one of the first student walkouts in America demanding action on gun control. Her hashtag #menext? went viral, generating over 500k views on Facebook and Instagram. Her activism on gun control caught the attention of national and international press, including Womens eNews, which selected herfor its 21st Century Leader award. She was the only teenager to receive the award. County Executive George Latimer also honored Ms. Massie-Vereker for her gun control activism at his first State of the County address in April of 2018.

Ms. Massie-Vereker is a founding member of Pelham Eliminates Plastics, which successfully lobbied local grocery market chain,DeCiccos, to eliminate plastic bags. In the spring of 2019, she helped organize a PMHS student walkout to demand action on climate change. She is currently a member of New York City’s Climate Museum Youth Advisory Board. Her Senior “Create” project (a PMHS graduation requirement for seniors focused on issues that impact the wider community) is the founding of a Sustainability Advisory Board at PMHS.

“We hope Violet’s legacy is to inspire the next generation of Pelham students to advocate for change that promotes social justice and progressive values,” added PWP co-chair Marisa Panzani. “Progressive Women of Pelham stand with and support student activists in Pelham as they speak up and work towards a more equitable and sustainable world.”

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