Leadership Luncheon '07 raises $1 million! We did it!

Well, I just came out of a wrap-up meeting of the Development Committee about our fantastic Leadership Luncheon.  Who would have believed it was possible to raise a million dollars from a luncheon?

Last year we thought we were pretty great to raise $670,000.  A goal of $1 million for 2007? No way!

But WE DID IT.  Amazing!

Last year, we thought we were pretty great to have 1,225 people at the luncheon.  But this year, we had just over 1,500 there (give or take those who showed up with guests unexpectedly and those who didn’t show).

An amazing increase!

The Omni Shoreham ballroom was bursting at the seams.  Not just with people, but with excitement, enthusiasm, good will and dedication to a worthy cause.

Only superlatives can be used to describe every aspect of the luncheon – the video, the program, the WAWIT participants, the panel, all the materials – even the food.

It happened because of the wonderful network of committed board members, staff and Leadership Luncheon Committee members who worked all summer long to make this luncheon so very special and very successful. I had the honor of being the chair of the Leadership Luncheon Committee and am awed by the effort of our 33 members to expand our network thoughtfully, thoroughly and productively.

I think I should quit while I’m ahead.  I can’t imagine a more successful luncheon in the future!

But there will be.  Stay tuned.

We’re brainstorming about it already.

Marion Ballard chaired the 2007 Leadership Luncheon Committee, and has played an instrumental role in every Leadership Luncheon The Women’s Foundation has held.  She is a former board member and a tremendous supporter of The Women’s Foundation.  She truly epitomizes all of the ways that you can give back and be a part of The Women’s Foundation and changing women’s lives.  Learn more about how you can become part of The Power of Giving Together.

The Dalai Lama gets it.

At The Women’s Foundation, we have a phrase for men who support our mission.  We call them guys who get it.

We’re lucky to have many wonderful, supportive men in our camp here in our local area, including Leroy Pingho, Ralph Boyd, Jr. and Frederic L. Ballard, Jr.

This past Sunday’s Washington Post has a wonderful and thoughtful article in the Outlook section written by the Dalai Lama, titled, "My Vision of a Compassionate Future. "

He writes so eloquently about how we, as a global community, can and must bring about a more peaceful world through non-violent, pro-active approaches to social change. He tells us that we need to instill a sense of caring for others, to tap our compassion, and to teach our children to develop their brains and their hearts.

He goes on to write: "To promote greater compassion, we must pay special attention to the role of women. Given that mothers carry the fetus for months within their own bodies, from a biological point of view women in general may possess greater sensitivity of heart and capacity for empathy. My first teacher of love and compassion was my own mother, who provided me with maximum love. I do not mean to reinforce in any way the traditional view that a woman’s place is confined to the home. I believe that the time has come for women to take more active roles in all domains of human society, in an age in which education and the capacities of the mind, not physical strength, define leadership. This could help create a more equitable and compassionate society."

This paragraph nearly jumped off the page for me. The Dalai Lama speaks of something that we at The Women’s Foundation have known for a long time: that the world would be a much better place if women were given equitable opportunities and a chance to reach their full potential.

The Dalai Lama is definitely a guy who gets it.

Jennifer Cortner is president of EFX Media and serves on The Women’s Foundation’s board of directors and as the chair of the communications committee.  Our committees are just one of many ways that you can get involved in our work and making sure the women of our region get a chance to reach their full potential.  There’s a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation.  Find yours today.

Leadership Luncheon '07: The Power of Giving Together is catching!

People everywhere are joining the powerful wave of philanthropy that is The Women’s Foundation.

Our community was challenged at the 2007 Leadership Luncheon to raise $50,000 by October 24th.  And when we do, every dollar will be matched three times.

For every one dollar invested, The Women’s Foundation will receive $3 more.

You’re doing the math, I can tell.

In the end, if we meet this match, we’ll end up with at least $1 million for the women and girls of our community.

As a result of these matches, which are bringing out The Power of Giving Together, we’ve been amazed by the support we’re receiving–from near and far, small and big.

We’ve received donations from $10 to $1000. 

New supporters of The Women’s Foundation, Erin Currier and Drew Smith, gave a donation because they knew that the small amount they could give would transform into so much more.

And they’re right!

Their $50 contribution will turn into $200 if we meet our match.

Help us get there by tomorrow–October 24th!  Donate now.

Leadership Luncheon '07: A behind the scenes take on transformation.

Putting on a luncheon for 1,500 people isn’t easy.  As the event gets closer and closer, one finds oneself so mired in the millions of important details that you can’t remember anymore what you’re really working for.

You can’t see the forest, in other words, for the trees.  Or, the purpose for the nametags.

It begins, after a while, from the inside, to feel like chaos for the sake of chaos.

And then you’re at the event, and after all the running around and the worrying and the making sure everyone is seated, the video comes on.

And you remember, instantaneously, what it’s all really about.

I remember vividly standing against the wall in the back of the ballroom watching that video for the first time and thinking, this is real, this transformation.  It’s not just a slogan or a logo or a theme.

The change is real.

Watching Laceiy’s story, and then hearing her and Sharan tell their stories to all 1,500 of us, without nary a cracking voice, you could feel it.

That the power of everyone in that room, and everyone who supports The Women’s Foundation and the work of our Grantee Partners, was working.

That it was changing lives, changing families, changing women, changing everything.

When you see a group of women sitting around a construction work site talking about changing their lives, and supporting each other and sticking through the challenges of moving into work that most never even consider as women’s work, you know.

This change is real, and it’s big, and it’s unstoppable.

And that it’s not just about Laceiy or Sharan or the many women who will follow in their footsteps, but that it’s about all of us.

That when we invest in and open new doors and pave new pathways for women and girls anywhere, it impacts women everywhere by removing barriers, changing perceptions and removing limits.

And that’s what I thought about as I stood against the wall at the luncheon, watching the video, and then listening to Laceiy and Sharan tell their stories, is about how it’s easy to get lost in the details and the statistics and the numbers when it comes to investing in social change, in building communities, in contributing to stronger families.

Sometimes, you can lose the forest for the trees, or the story for the statistics. 

Because really, sometimes, what it all comes down to is one opportunity, one chance, one choice.

One pathway to change a life, a family, and a future.

And that’s what I love about The Women’s Foundation.  Is that we do that every day, mulitiplied thousands of times over throughout our region.

We invest in stories of lives changed.

And once a year, we get together to celebrate that investment, that choice, that strategy.  To remember the stories, for the trees.

It rocked.

Ready to invest in women and girls and create more stories of tranformation?  Help us meet our challenge grant, or find another way to get involved in The Power of Giving Together.  There’s a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation.  Find yours today.

Leadership Luncheon '07: Awesome is the only word that comes to mind.

Thank you so much for letting me know about the two attendees at your Leadership Luncheon who handed off the HOBO bags they’d won to Laceiy and Sharan.  Of course, I am thrilled to learn that Laceiy and Sharan went home with Hobo bags.  They are two incredibly eloquent, graceful, and inspirational women—I feel proud to have been present to hear their stories and to celebrate their triumphs.

Awesome is the only word that comes to mind.

Of course, it was HOBO International’s pleasure to be a sponsor for The Women’s Foundation’s luncheon again this year.  It really was a beautiful function—and what an amazing panel discussion! 

We at HOBO International feel honored to be associated with such an outstanding local organization and feel renewed in our mission to be a part of the solution.

Wendy Pierce is a staff member at HOBO International, which makes handbags by women, for women.  For the last two years, HOBO International has donated handbags to be used as a give-way at The Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Luncheon. 

Do you want to be part of the solution, like HOBO International?  If so, join us.  There is a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation.  Find yours today.  You can invest, and help us meet our challenge grant and get to $1 million by October 24th.  You can inspire an aspiring local woman or nonprofit.  Or you can innovate through one of our unique donor networks that changes lives through The Power of Giving Together.

Reflections on a transformative Leadership Luncheon!

I find it hard to believe that the big day, our most anticipated event, the 2007 Leadership Luncheon, has come and gone. 

The luncheon followed an invigorating and positively inspirational morning thanks to the Community Briefing with Assistant Chief Groomes, Department Commander Cheryl Pendergast, Camille Cormier, Director of Local Programs and Policy at Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW); and Tamieka Bridgett, a trainee preparing for a career in law enforcement through WOW’s program, the energy of the Luncheon began filling the atmosphere.

As I watched a diverse crowd of hundreds flow into the ballroom and our panelists preparing for their positions, it was a great reminder that there are still women and men out there, fighting the good fight, and believing in the power of giving together. The crowd was filled with families, friends, couples, volunteers, college students, and individuals from all walks of life.

One woman stopped me to remark on the energy, how she was just so excited and couldn’t believe all the energy she felt in the ballroom. From the Mystic Mayhem’s awesome dance moves, to the heartwarming and inspiring video of our Washington Area Women in the Trades (WAWIT) graduates, and the many powerful speeches given, the day was one to be remembered.

As I scanned the expansive ballroom floor filled with roundtables of over 1,500 individuals, transformation was evident in every way, shape, and form. As The Women’s Foundation is transitioning towards more growth in our community, partners, and philanthropic education, our Grantee Partners’ clients are transitioning towards better jobs, better wages, a life replacing despair with hope for them and their children.

As I reflect, "metamorphosis" was an appropriate theme for a year filled of growth and renewed energy!

For me, the luncheon was a time to reflect, educate the community on our work at The Women’s Foundation, emphasize the impact that investing in women and girls has, and celebrate our work and the uniqueness of it (incorporating a gender lens, recognizing and highlighting the importance of women in nontraditional occupations, etc).

I’m thankful for all the participants, attendees, volunteers, board, staff, and the countless others who put their effort, time, and resources into this event to make October 10 a big success. I can’t wait to see next year’s luncheon–it can only get bigger and better!

Become part of our expanding community of people, corporations, nonprofits and community leaders investing in women and girls.  There is a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation.  Find yours today, and help us get to a record-breaking $1 million by October 24th!

Leadership Luncheon '07: I was inspired to become part of the change!

Every year, I am inspired by the women at the Leadership Luncheon and this year was no exception!  What an amazing event!

My name is Wendy Weaver, and I have volunteered for Washington Area Women’s Foundation and watched its exponential growth for the last six years. 

It’s so exciting to be a part of this change!  I’m inspired to see how The Women’s Foundation impacts women like Laceiy and Sharan to change their lives for the better!  I love the idea that we can create a greater impact on women’s lives by working together and that we can leverage our resources to make a much larger contribution on our region than we could as individuals.

After the luncheon, I was so energized by the desire to change lives that I volunteered to co-chair the 1K Club. The 1K Club is a network of dedicated philanthropists committed to strengthening the effectiveness of The Women’s Foundation and its work to transform our community.

As a mother, wife, and professional, my time and resources are always stretched.  I believe that the 1K Club is a wonderful, affordable and rewarding way to get involved in philanthropy. I can’t wait to get started!

If you are as inspired as I am, if you want to continue to effect change, create an impact on our region, and feel the power of giving together, I invite you to join us in the 1K club.  To see who has already joined, view the 1K Club member list.

Wendy M. Weaver is a long-time volunteer of The Women’s Foundation and a co-chair of our new 1K Club.  She has invested and inspired, and now she’s a leader of one of our innovative networks of donors!  To learn more about these three ways that you can be involved in the Power of Giving Together, or to join the 1K Club, click here! There is a place for everyone at The Women’s Foundation…find yours today.

This luncheon made me feel proud to be a woman.

Coming into the event I have to admit I was kind of intimidated, but I quickly realized we were all there to make a difference. The Women’s Foundation luncheon made me feel proud to be a woman. I also felt that women have a voice and if we come together we can change the world. 

Being in that room with such powerful women gave me that feeling.

The money The Women’s Foundation will receive will change so many women’s lives in the Washington D.C area. This alone is inspiring!

DeEra Dunbar, 18, attended the luncheon as the guest of staff member Latricia Allen.

Ready to help us change more lives in the Washington, D.C. area?  Help us meet our challenge grants and get to $1 million for the women and girls of our region!  There is a way for everyone to get involved in The Women’s Foundation–find yours today.

Leadership Luncheon '07: The power of the collective!

I just want to thank all of you again for the wonderful opportunities that have and will come out of our Women in the Protective Services project being featured at yesterday’s Community Briefing. 

As an example of the power of the collaborative that ensues from being connected to The Women’s Foundation, a program officer from a family foundation approached me afterwards and indicated her serious interest in the project.  We’ll be meeting soon.

This combined with other audience interest and connections I made or strengthened at the VIP reception will just be great for the project, I’m sure.

The entire day went off just about flawlessly, I thought, as usual.  My congratulations to all at The Women’s Foundation!

Camille Cormier is director of local programs and policy at Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation.  WOW’s Women in the Protective Services program was featured as the discussion topic of this year’s Community Briefing.  WOW is also a partner of Washington Area Women in the Trades, whose work was featured at this year’s Leadership Luncheon.  You can see the video here.

Ready to join the power of giving together?  There are three ways that you can help support nonprofits like WOW, and others doing amazing work, through The Women’s Foundation.

Leadership Luncheon '07: Changing others, changing ourselves!

If you attended this year’s Leadership Luncheon, then you heard a lot about transformation. The work that The Women’s Foundation does really does transform so many lives. Not only do we help transform the lives of women and girls in the D.C. region, but we transform the lives of women who give.

I am one of those women.

My name is Jennifer Cortner, and I sit on the Board of The Women’s Foundation, and chair the communications committee. I became smitten with The Women’s Foundation about five or six years ago when I read an article in the Washington Post about the Rainmakers Giving Circle. I thought, what a cool idea to get women together to pool their resources, to make real change in our community.

I’ve become deeply engaged with The Women’s Foundation since then. My company, EFX Media, proudly supports The Women’s Foundation by offering pro bono communications support. This year, we designed and produced all the printed materials for the luncheon, and produced the video about one woman’s transformation.

Our video follows Laceiy Peay, a recent graduate of the Washington Area Women in the Trades program, which trains women to get into trade fields like construction, welding and cement masonry.  WAWIT is a unique program and is one of over 90 programs that are funded in part by Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

We taped Laceiy and her fellow students one very hot, summer day as they took a welding and carpentry class. The thing that struck me the most is the bond that these women had formed over the 12-weeks they had spent with each other. The WAWIT program is not easy — it’s physically demanding, and requires students to show up to class by 7 a.m. every day. A lot of women who sign up frankly do not make it. But those who do graduate, so so because of the support they receive from each other.

The WAWIT women really care about each other. When someone doesn’t understand something in class, her fellow classmate will help her out. When someone doesn’t show up for class, she’ll get a call from one of her colleagues. And the women who run WAWIT are there with them every step of the way.

After we finished the video, I asked if we could invite Laceiy and one of her fellow students, Sharan Mitchell, to speak at our luncheon.  After graduation, Laceiy accepted a job as a program assistant at WAWIT and Sharan is currently working construction at the Nationals Baseball Staduim (How cool is that?). I thought it would be a great idea for the women at the luncheon to meet them personally and hear their stories. They both graciously agreed.

Now there are two camps of people when it comes to public speaking: those who thrive on it, and those who rank it somewhere above the fear of death. But even the most seasoned speaker can be a little daunted by the notion of speaking in front of 1500 people.

If you were at the luncheon, then you know what happened:

Laceiy and Sharan brought the house down.

They took that stage with grace, poise and confidence. They graciously shared their story of how WAWIT and The Women’s Foundation transformed their lives.

In 4 short minutes, they helped transform 1,500 people in the room.

Including me.

If you were equally moved, I hope you become involved in The Women’s Foundation. You will become smitten just like I have. Help transform the lives of women and girls. There are lots of ways to engage. Join us!

Jennifer Cortner is the president of EFX Media and sits on the board of The Women’s Foundation.  She chairs The Women’s Foundation’s communications committee.  EFX Media donates services to foster The Women’s Foundation’s work.