Women’s Leadership Council Kicks Off 10th Anniversary w Luncheon Honoring Women Making a Difference

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Event Raises $362,000 for United Way of New York City's Youth Empowerment Initiatives; Winners of High School Essay Contest Join Festivities

New York, NY – United Way of New York City's (UWNYC) Women's Leadership Council (WLC) today kicked off its 10th anniversary year with an awards luncheon honoring women who have made a significant impact on their communities through philanthropic giving, advocacy, and volunteerism.  This was WLC's 6th annual The Power of Women to Make a Difference luncheon and featured a keynote speech by CNN anchor and Special Correspondent, Soledad O'Brien.

The event, hosted by style and beauty expert and philanthropist Mary Alice Stephenson, raised $362,000 in proceeds which will directly benefit the Women's Leadership Council Fund.  The WLC Fund supports UWNYC's youth empowerment initiatives which include efforts to reduce childhood obesity, improve the quality of early care and education, and boost on-time graduation rates.

"Today’s honorees are three of the most exceptional women I know," said Gordon Campbell, President and CEO of United Way of New York City.  "Their work and leadership embody the tremendous spirit of philanthropy and community service – truly 'The Power of Women to Make a Difference' in our great city."

The 2012 WLC honorees are: Karen B. Peetz, BNY Mellon, Women’s Leadership Council Founder's Award; Avis Richards, Birds Nest Productions, Women's Leadership Council Philanthropist Award; Ivette Fernandez, News Corporation, Women's Leadership Council Woman of Distinction Award.

The luncheon also launched a social media campaign focused around "What Woman Inspires You?" The campaign allows the public to pay tribute to female role models on twitter (#WLCinspire), Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. 

The WLC has raised more than $3 million in support of United Way of New York City's youth empowerment initiatives since 2006.  These include:

  • Graduate, Prepare, Succeed (GPS-NYC), which targets ninth graders with a history of chronic absenteeism in 60 underserved public schools and provides them with academic support, attendance outreach, counseling, and case management in order to improve on-time graduation rates and college readiness.
  • Supporting Transitions from Early-education to Public School (STEPS), which seeks to ensure that that a child's learning and developmental needs are continuously met during the first eight years of life – ensuring that they master essential reading and math skills, a critical foundation for success in middle school, high school and beyond.
  • Healthy Eating for a Healthy Start, which provides nutrition education within the Head Start system and engages children, families, and staff in activities that lead to healthy eating.

At the luncheon, NYC high school students Stevalecia Munipersaud, Angela Nery and Selena Garcia, whose schools participate in the GPS-NYC program, were recognized for their winning essays on "What Woman Inspires You?" and won $150 prizes.

The event was attended by a diverse group including celebrities, philanthropists, stylists, Broadway performers, non-profit leaders, business executives and other notable guests including:

  • Chandra Lee Schwartz – Broadway actress, currently Glenda the Good Witch in Wicked
  • Montego Glover – Tony award nominee, Broadway actress currently, Felicia Farrel in Memphis
  • Carol Woods – Grammy nominee, Broadway actress, currently Matron "Mama" Morton in Chicago
  • Chilina Kennedy – Broadway actress currently starring as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Dr. Lisa Airan
  • Olivia Chantecaille
  • Coralie Charriol
  • Jennifer Creel


Platinum sponsors of the event, held at The Plaza Hotel, were BNY Mellon and Macy's.

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FOR PHOTOS, please visit http://liveunitednyc.org/press/wlc_luncheon_2012.php

About the Women's Leadership Council
The Women's Leadership Council (WLC) is a network of women dedicated to making a difference in the lives of New York City's young people.  The WLC, now celebrating their 10th anniversary, has raised more than $3 million in support of United Way of New York City's youth empowerment initiatives. The WLC's efforts comprise much more than fundraising, such as panel discussions on topics that affect young people in our community to networking events with other members.

About United Way of New York City
United Way of New York City fights poverty across the five boroughs. We design and invest in evidence-based programs that help low-income New Yorkers achieve educational success, income stability and good health.  We rigorously evaluate our work and use lessons learned to inform and advance citywide policies and practices that prevent and alleviate poverty citywide.