Revisiting the History of Local Women

Stories of three exceptional Nevada women who made a lasting difference in the community
The 2019 Women’s March Reno in the plaza across from Reno City Hall – image – Brian Bahouth.

Women in Nevada have made great strides in recent years and three, in particular, will be honored this year during the Women’s March in Reno. They are Mylan Hawkins, Evelyn Mount and Amanda Davis, all of whom made important contributions to their communities.

In 2018, Nevadans elected the first majority-woman state legislature and then renewed it in 2022. In 2017, Nevadans voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, paving the way for Illinois and Virginia to follow.

Editor’s Note: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would ensure protections for women by enshrining them into the Constitution. 38 states have ratified the amendment, but five have rescinded the ratification, leaving confusion as to which states have ratified it.

Women in Nevada – and across the country – are also responding to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, which had provided protections for those seeking abortions. Nevada’s two U.S. Senators, Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, promptly co-sponsored legislation in that body to restore and protect abortion rights.

As Reno gears up for this year’s Women’s March, taking place Saturday, March 25, 2023, at 12:30 p.m., the first in-person event in two years, and the first since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, three prominent local women will be featured at this weekend’s events – stories we all should familiarize ourselves with.

Mylan Barin Hawkins

Photo of Mylan Barin Hawkins
Photo courtesy of Nevada Diabetes Association

Mylan Hawkins, a prominent political and social activist, nonprofit organization leader and mentor to many budding activists, died on August 26, 2022, at the age of 83. As the founder of Northern Nevada Marches Forward in 2016, her legacy lives on with all those whom she inspired. She loved to say, “Get your asses out in the streets!”

Although her life was devoted to women’s rights, she also was a pioneer in providing resources for those with diabetes. With her late husband, she co-founded the Diabetic Educational Center to address the lack of available diabetes support services. The Nevada and California Diabetes Association has saved patients more than $6.5 million in emergency medical supplies and helped more than 20,000 people, according to the organization’s website. Mylan served as its executive director for nearly two decades and provided camps, support programs, emergency medical services, and information/referral services.

From her roots in Chicago to Philadelphia, Miami, and then Reno, Mylan was always a woman on a mission wherever she landed. She was the director of medical programs for the United Way of Dade County in Miami, and even worked with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Mylan launched the Women’s March in Reno in her late 70s when others dream of rest and relaxation. She later helped found Northern Nevada Marches Forward (NNMF,) an inclusive volunteer-led organization with a mission to support, spotlight, and uplift the voices and power of diverse people and communities to create transformative social change. Mylan was a self-proclaimed political junkie, but her passions included a love of gourmet cooking, fine wine, her dogs Beauty and Teddy, travel and celebrating her birthday the whole month of September.

Evelyn Mount

Photo of Evelyn Mount
Photo courtesy Nevada Women’s History Project

Evelyn was born in 1926 in West Helena, Arkansas and learned the importance of sharing with those less fortunate from an early age. Her family had a tradition of inviting others to share food for nearly every meal. She told the Reno-Gazette Journal in 2017, “They wouldn’t let us eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner without checking with the neighbors to see if they  needed food.”

Evelyn and her family moved to Vallejo, California during the Great Migration, and Evelyn worked at the Benicia Arsenal starting at the age of 16 during World War II. She raised six children there. She moved to Reno on her own after visiting a friend in 1978, and quickly became engaged and committed to the community. Evelyn managed the apartment complex she lived in, and worked at the Reno Airport as a dispatcher until she retired.

In 1979 she met and married Leon Mount. That year, they adopted families in the community that needed help, purchasing turkeys and other food for Thanksgiving dinner. Evelyn’s efforts at gathering donations quickly grew, and her work became the Community Outreach Program, headquartered in the Mount’s home. The number of families that were fed each Holiday season grew exponentially, reaching between 2,000-3,000 by the late 1990s. Evelyn’s generosity also expanded to a food pantry every Friday out of her garage.

In 2009, the Reno City Council recognized her decades of important work and service by naming the new Northeast Community Center in her honor. Evelyn retired from the Community Outreach program in 2018 when she was 92 years old. The last Holiday distribution served almost 2,500 people, a fitting send-off after a lifetime of service. She loved helping people, and reluctantly gave up the efforts when they became too much.

Amanda Davis

Photo of Amanda Davis
Image taken from a GoFundMe page created to support Amanda Davis

The family of Jolyne Sanders and the late Fred Davis are honored to have their daughter acknowledged as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) honoree of the 2023 Women’s March. Jolyne Sanders, Amanda’s mother and MMIW advocate, expresses that we need to amplify and bring attention to this issue to help save other women from harm.

Amanda Davis was a Numu Mogotne (Paiute Woman) whose member tribe was the Kooyooe Tukadu (Cui-Ui Eaters) of Pyramid Lake. She was 37 years old at the time of her passing on December 15, 2020. She was pregnant with her baby, Ezra Aaron Davis, who is buried alongside her. Her three children remain with her mother, Jolyne.

In 2016, Amanda helped Indigenous people lead and advocate for protecting water during the Standing Rock Movement. Her heart was with the community, and she was quick to help fundraise with cupcakes, Indian tacos and barbecues. She also spent hours washing peoples vehicles after they got off the Playa bringing her family a little more income.

“Today, we need to do better and provide ways for Native Voices to be heard, to have access to land and water, fishing and hunting rights. Indigenous women will always advocate for mining and environmental justice so our Earth Mother isn’t continually harmed and polluted. These are the things Indigenous women believe in and what Amanda stood for. This violence has to stop so healing from trauma can begin.”
-Beverly Harry (Navajo), wife of former Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Chairman Norm Harry

Steve Funk is an experienced print and broadcast journalist, development manager, award-winning community builder, and communicator who has lived in Reno/Tahoe for more than 50 years. As a podcast and radio show host, Steve’s passion for the Silver State and its communities, economy, and politics drove his career and the content of his Grow Nevada Team‘casts on NBC Radio and writings in the Northern Nevada Business Weekly and Boomer magazines. His leadership has charted development for both non-profit and commercial enterprises in Northern Nevada. In 2012 AAF Reno awarded Steve Community Builder of the Year. When Steve has time, he devotes much of it to his love of making music with his wife and friends, volunteering, and exploring the outdoors with family.

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