2011 Leadership Award Recipient

"Sisters Under Sail" Founder Honored with Leadership In Women's Sailing Award

June 4, 2011 — Dawn Santamaria – Recipient of the 2011 Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award, accepted her honor June 4th at the 10th Annual Women’s Sailing Conference held at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Photo Caption: (Left to Right) NWSA Founder Doris Colgate, NWSA President Joan Thayer, 2011 Award Recipient Dawn Santamaria, BoatUS Membership Programs Manager Dina Murray

When Dawn and her husband Jay purchased their tall ship, she witnessed first hand how their four young daughters enjoyed learning how to sail the ship while gaining confidence and leadership skills. She wanted other young girls to have the opportunity to have the same experiences so she developed a program and created the non-profit organization, Sisters Under Sail, in 2005.

The mission of Sisters Under Sail is to build confidence, enhance self-esteem, develop social conscience and teach women of all ages the value of sisters working together towards a common goal through sail training. Its classroom is the 110-foot, square topsail, gaff-rigged schooner STV Unicorn, said to be the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world. This unique leadership program has taken nearly 400 girls aboard from all over the United States and Canada to learn new skills on the ship and expand their lives with accomplished sailors. Unicorn sails in alternate years on the Long Island-Maine route and in the Great Lakes.

Santamaria grew up in Chicago, Illinois and attended Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana – an all women’s college.  Three of her four daughters have also gone to Saint Mary’s, making a family that understands the value of the “Sisters” mission and its impact on teenage girls. Her adult program has brought aboard nearly 200 women who have enjoyed the experience as much as the teenage girls.

Sisters Under Sail has worked with the generous support of communities, individuals and many organizations such as Girl Scouts of America wishing to sponsor teenagers to participate. Dawn, still connected to her college community, is on the Alumnae Board of Directors at her alma mater, and is Saint Mary’s New Jersey Alumnae Club President. She serves as the Chairwoman of the Sisters Under Sail Board of Trustees.

You can follow the travels of Unicorn on the website sistersundersail.org anytime. In 2012, Unicorn will be sailing in OpSail 2012, with the daughters of deployed American service men and women next summer, from New York City to Norfolk and from Baltimore to Boston, commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the birth of The Star-Spangled Banner, working with a Washington, DC based military strategic partner.