Challenge into Change Essay Contest

The Women’s Initiative seeks to honor women who have transformed challenge into change. We’re looking for essays that inspire! 

The Contest


  • Entry Deadline: April 30, 2013
  • Essays must be 500 words or less
  • Your essay should be conversational as if talking to a friend, neighbor, or relative.
  • Women may enter an essay about their own challenge into change
  • Anyone may enter an essay about a woman they want to honor for her challenge into change
  • Focus is on celebrating each woman's story. Perfect grammar & spelling not required!
  • Submit your essay and signed Agreement Form via mail to: The Women's Initiative, 1101 East High Street, Suite A, Charlottesville, VA 22902 or email to:
  • Questions? Email Lesley Foster at or call her at 434.989.8261

2011 Challenge Into Change Essay Contest Book - Available through!


The Events

"CHOOSING WISDOM" Panel Discussion @ VA Festival of the Book

  • Wednesday, March 20, 6 - 8 PM, The Renaissance School, 418 E Jefferson Street

How can some people live through very difficult life circumstances and rather than exemplifying anger, bitterness or disillusionment, manifest compassion, optimism and strength?

  • Presenting authors: UVA's Justine Owens, PhD and Dr. Margaret Plews-Ogan, Chief of the Division of General and Palliative Medicine.
  • Moderator: Scheline Crutchfield
  • Panel featuring local essayists Elizabeth Doyle Solomon, Naasira El-Abdullah and Martha Trujillo, published in the 2011 Challenge into Change Essay Contest. These women share their inspirational stories of triumph over adversity.

See Newsplex interview with  Dr. Margaret Plews-Ogan. and Scheline Crutchfield

"Indelible Lalita": Film Screening followed by Q&A with Filmmaker

  • Friday, April 12, 7:00 PM, Charlottesville City Space (100 5th Street NE, Market Street Parking Garage)
  • Tickets: $5 - $50 donation. Donations support counseling programs at The Women's Initiative

What happens to a woman's sense of self when her body changes beyond recognition?

Please join us for the film screening followed by a question and answer session with Julie Mallozzi, filmmaker.

For more information about INDELIBLE LALITA, visit the website:

The Celebration

Saturday, June 15, 4:30 - 6:30 at Jefferson School City Center Heritage Theater

  • ALL essayists receive certificates of achievement and a gift
  • Cash awards and prizes:  1st ($150), 2nd ($100), 3rd ($50) and Runners' up 4, 5 & 6 ($25)
  • Door prizes for community at the event
  • Winning essay may be read on National Public Radio's Morning Edition
  • The final event may be covered by local print or television media

Need Help putting Pen to Paper?

The Women's Initiative is offering two lunchtime writing workshops:

  • Thursday, March 21, 12 - 1 PM, TWI Office (1101 E High Street, Suite A)
  • Friday, March 29, 12 - 1 PM, Jefferson School City Center, JABA's Mary Williams Center

Come to one or both workshops. Bring a notebook and your lunch. Facilitator: Lesley Foster, Ink & Inquiry