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Interview with Dionne Ybarra from The Wahine Project: In Her Words

Snapshot Interview with Dionne Ybarra from The Wahine Project: In Her Words
Interviewed by Christina Fontanarosa

Dionne Ybarra CEO - Wahine Project
Dionne Ybarra is the founding CEO of the Wahine Project

How did you start Surfing?

A friend asked if I wanted to learn with her. I was 28 at the time. She set up a few lessons for us and I was hooked! A few months later we went on our first surf trip to Mexico. It was a nine day trip and it changed my life!! Even though we took a few lessons though I would say I learned by just getting myself out in the water at any opportunity. I would drive around with my surfboard in the car. At the time I had a foam board my ex husband gave me and I have no idea where I got the wetsuit. Maybe he gave me that too.

What does the Wahine Project mean to you? What do you think it will or is manifesting with/in youth?

It means everything to me. It is where I put all my passions, pursuits and happiness. I started it with nothing. I didn’t make any money. I put myself out there with hardly any experience.. just passion and a belief that girls should have equal access. I have cried a million tears for this project and its success. I have taken a lot of shit from people who wanted to take away the success. So, yes…it means everything to me. I believe it is manifesting a passion and love for the ocean that people didn’t know they could have. That they discover in themselves a belief in themselves that they didn’t know existed. It directs youth into career pathways, a new sport, a new way of looking at the world and at themselves that defies what people thought of them.

What do you love to do when you are not helping youth learn to surf?

I love to cook. I love to travel. I love to just sit on the beach and soak in the sun. I love reading. I love being with my family.

If you could transform yourself into anything, what would it be and why?

I feel like I am transforming myself on the daily. I will turn 50 this year and I have committed the can do ANYTHING I put my mind to! year to experiences that transform my heart and mind to heal from the past and to learn new gifts to share with the world!

What do you hope Wahine will look like 10 years from now?

It will look more diverse. We will have more BIPOC/LGBTQ+ on our leadership team and more youth of color participating. I want to overall change the color on the beach with darker skin and diverse humans who have diverse ways of being.

What is the importance for partnering and co-leading with orgs like Drop In?

Allows us to combine to have superpowers!!

Do you have a favorite quote? By whom and why?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. ~Ghandi

It’s not enough to talk about change, read books, to get angry over what isn’t being done, to complain about it. We need to get off our asses and be bold and be the change.

I am so lucky to have grandparents from both sides of my family who were immigrants from Mexico. They both did it with a baby on their hips. This has to be one of the hardest things for young parents to do. Crossing an entire country to get to the US. One came alone to this country with her baby. If they can do that I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to!



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