LANSING, Mich. (March 21, 2024) — Last night, Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) held a “State of Women” Town Hall at Gier Community Center to celebrate Women’s History Month. Panelists Brandy Johnson, President of the Michigan Community College Association, Jen Nelson, COO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Dr. Renee Branch Canady, CEO of the Michigan Public Health Institute spoke about the trials and triumphs of women in education, healthcare and business sectors — all while highlighting the progress of women’s rights and the contributions of women across the state of Michigan.

“My whole life, I have been inspired by women because of their ability to wear many hats and make things happen. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the influence and guidance of so many inspiring and supportive women. It’s important to uplift and celebrate how far women have come while recognizing we have more work to do to close the remaining gaps,” said Sen. Anthony. “It’s an honor and a remarkable opportunity to create spaces like this for women to empower each other and address important issues during Women’s History Month.” 

Sen. Anthony chats alongside her esteemed panelists (from left to right) Panelists Jen Nelson, COO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Dr. Renee Branch Canady, CEO of the Michigan Public Health Institute, and Brandy Johnson, President of the Michigan Community College Association.

“The state of women in healthcare and public health has not yet attained the level that we need,” said Dr. Renee Branch Canady. “The attention is a matter not of social and political will, but of collective willingness to advance a change in this critical dialogue so that we can see a change in the outcome.”

“It is a fact that if you stop your education at a high school diploma, the chances that you will live the rest of your life in poverty are astronomical — that’s especially true for women,” said Brandy Johnson. “Women and girls are now enrolling, persisting, and completing higher education at rates far above their male counterparts. We must continue to support women in their pursuit of postsecondary education and high-wage jobs.”

“From a business perspective, we know that we have to be more intentional about the support we are providing to many businesses, and especially women-owned businesses,” said Jen Nelson. “We are focused on programs, technical assistance and providing the connections so women know they are available. We should be proud that women have outperformed what some of the projections were, but there is still a 10% gap in the labor force participation rate between women and men.”

Throughout her career in government, Sen. Anthony has broken barriers as the first Black woman to represent Mid-Michigan in the state legislature, the first Black woman to chair the Michigan Senate Appropriations Committee, and the youngest Black woman to serve on a county commission in the entire United States.

In the many government roles she has taken on, she has continually advocated for women and girls through uplifting legislation to end child marriage in Michigan, expanding reproductive freedom, and passing the Michigan CROWN Act to end hair discrimination.