March 21, 2023

Bag Lady

Brendan Hill

Brendan is the National Marketing & Communications Manager at Summer Search.

The following is reflection from Ursulina Ramirez, Summer Search CEO, for Women’s History Month.


March 15, 2020: Richard Carranza, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education (DOE) addressing the media regarding the closing of NYC Public Schools due to the COVID Pandemic. Ursulina Ramirez, Chief Operating Officer for NYC DOE (at the time), observing in the background.

What I see in this picture:

A woman that was terrified.

A woman who was responsible in heart and on paper for crisis management.

A woman with a 6 month and 18-month-old at home.

A woman who was nervous for her immunocompromised family.

A woman that was in physical pain because she could not pump regularly and had to stop breastfeeding her baby.

A woman who was depressed.

A woman that had a team of other women around her personally and professionally that were holding her up.

A woman that had a microphone but had no idea what to say.

To the women that are in the thick of it…. I see you. To the women who have found the light… I praise you. To the women who are traversing new spaces… I support you.

Throughout Women’s History Month, we are asked to consider what it means to be a woman. I have been in a particularly reflective state about that question these past few weeks. For me, what it means to be a woman is intrinsically connected to questions about the many identities I inhabit: what it means to be Latina, the mama of two little ones, a leader, a life partner/wife, a friend and an advocate and an ally.

These questions feel particularly loud this month, as it is distinctly triggering for me and many others. March 15th was the day we announced that the NYC public school system would be closed due the pandemic. The entire world was shifting under me like quicksand and in the weeks leading up to March 15, 2020 and the months after… I lost myself.

How could I maintain all of my responsibilities and my identities when I didn’t have the certainty of what the next day would bring, and I was tasked with providing that certainty for the families of 1.1 million children in the NYC school system.

Three years later and I am so grateful for the woman in this picture. She is a past version of myself that I have tension with, but I love her, nonetheless.

So many women carry an invisible weight on their shoulders, and this is especially true for Black, Brown, Indigenous, Queer, and Trans women. As I look at this picture, I see my face and my body language and I am reminded of what I was carrying, and I am bringing it to light now in hopes that other folks feel comfortable being more open about what they are carrying.

As Erykah Badu said:

“Bag lady, you gon’ hurt your back

Dragging all them bags like that

I guess nobody ever told you

All you must hold on to

Is you, is you, is you…”

~ Ursulina


Ursulina (back row, far left) celebrating with the rest of Summer Search’s Senior Management Team in New York City earlier this month. Back Row (L to R): Megan Sussman, VP of Development, Nick Hutchinson, COO & CFO, Melanie Lyons, Seattle ED, Eunice Dunham, VP of Talent. Front Row (L to R): Peter Retzlaff, NYC ED, Hermese Velasquez, Boston ED, Sylvia Watts McKinney, Philadelphia ED, Kenyon Devault, Bay Area ED, Malika Graham-Bailey, VP of Program.

Welcome to the NEW!

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