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Cara Hadden, Marley McDonald, Amillyah Barnes-Wimberly were selected by a distinguished panel of judges* as First Place, Second Place and Third Place winners respectively of Esther Productions Inc’s essay writing contest for 2020. Four other girls ages 9 through 17 were chosen as Honorable Mentions: Armani Bailey, Ayisha Ferguson, Gabriel McCrae, Ella Osdoba. We and members of the community congratulated them during an exciting program on February 6. We invite the media to do the same.

Discovering Me…Without You was launched in 2019 by the Fatherless Daughter Empowerment Project, a division of Esther Productions Inc. The essay contest is designed to educate the public about the importance of fathers in the lives and development of girls and women. Nationally, more than 24 million children are growing up in homes without their fathers. In the Washington Metropolitan region at least 60 percent of homes are single parent households, many of them headed by women. The contest is intended to provide a platform for some of those children, particularly fatherless girls.

Each contestant also is given the opportunity in essays of up to 2,000 words to voice their pain but also demonstrate their resilience in the face of the trauma and challenges caused by father absence. Most important, the teen girls are asked to reveal that story of self-discovery: how she has come to know her worth and value; how she has come to recognize her imperfections but also her strengths; and how she believes she can succeed in the world despite the challenge of fatherlessness.

The entries were judged by a team of successful professional leaders including Ana Acevedo, Operations and Communications Manager at the Family Place Public Charter School; Patricia Bitondo, Woman’s National Democratic Club; Ana R. Harvey, a former senior executive in President Barack Obama’s administration; Winfield Swanson; Woman’s National Democratic Club; and Addison Switzer, CEO of BuckWild Media.

Esther Productions, Inc. is a Washington, DC-based national nonprofit organization. Founded in 2004, it is dedicated to inspiring and empowering girls and women. It is supported through generous contributions from Kerry S. Pearson LLC, Emmanuel Bailey, Veterans Services Corp, Pepco, an Exelon Corporation, Fort Myer Construction Corporation Charitable Foundation and Esther’s Friends. Special Thanks: Afrika Abney, Arts and Marketing Consultant and Alycea Gayle, Volunteer Youth Program Coordinator

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