Dress for Success pays tribute to a woman who is making a difference in CLE

CLEVELAND – Dress for Success honors a Cleveland woman who uplifts and empowers women in underserved communities. When Zuma Zabala was CEO of The East End Neighborhood House, she attributed her success to implementing the South African philosophy called Ubuntu. Although she is no longer with the organization, she continues to make a difference in every role she fills.

“The introduction to the philosophy of Ubuntu as a way to show that we care for each other, that we see each other. Ubuntu has brought us closer together as a team,” she said. said of his work at East End, which features a range of social media. services for children, families and seniors in Cleveland.

Zabala is an outstanding speaker, educator and advocate. Her mother inspired and shaped her as a woman to lead with passion and determination.

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Zuma Zabala.

“She said I was always there for others. I always stood up for others and I did that in my job at East End,” she said.

One of the main focuses of his work is to raise awareness of cultural humility so that all voices are heard and valued.

“Cultural humility comes from the understanding that none of us can be fully competent at anything. We have to continually learn. So when we want to learn more about other cultures, we have to be humble, we have to be humble,” said Zabala. .

Most of the clients served by East End Neighborhood House are women, so partnering with Dress for Success was a natural fit.

“We have forged a relationship where we can continue to serve women. Like Dress for Success, for example, bringing their services here to the East End, where women can access what Dress for Success has to offer,” said she explained.

When she found out she was being honored for Dress For Success, it took her by surprise.

“When Melody called me, I thought it was a call about what we were going to do next (laughs), another activity, another initiative,” she said. “I do what I do because that’s who I am. But I have to be honest to be recognized for your commitment, your compassion and your passion for the work you do, it feels good.”

Zabala recently moved into a new position as Senior Fellow for Community and Racial Equity for the Center for Community Solutions. She always advocates to come together and give underserved communities a voice and a seat at the table.

“I want us to show our best selves as human beings for each other. It doesn’t dismiss our differences, our history, our differences, does it? But to really see each other deeply as human beings. And if I can inspire that in a small way, then that’s my legacy,” she said.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates deep systemic issues in northeast Ohio. Plus, it spotlights community heroes who are fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for the story of A Better Land, tell us here.

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Steven L. Nielsen