HughE Dillon: United Way Women’s Initiative Gala

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown received the 2012 Women’s Initiative Award.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative hosted its annual gala Thursday evening at the Crystal Tea Room. Presented by Independence Blue Cross, proceeds from the gala go to support Women’s Initiative programs for at-risk women and girls, such as Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow (GTLT), which is aimed at helping adolescent girls develop self-esteem and leadership skills. Mayor Michael Nutter and more than 750 community leaders were there, along with young women from the GTLT program, their family members, and supporters of the program. Below: The event was co-chaired by Sherryann Plesse, of Vanguard, and Renee Rhem, of Independence Blue Cross. Rhem stressed that one of the most important aspects of GTLT is creating caring mentors and positive role models who can educate, motivate, and most of all, inspire the young women to be their very best. Not only does she hope she is a role model they can look up to, she says she is a better person today because of them. Plesse believes it’s crucial for young women to have a strong network surrounding them.

Below: Kathy McGady, campaign manager, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Susan Deeney, Marci Spitzer, and Kirah Hiltz.

Each girl who participates in the Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow program, creates a “Leadership Board” that explains their goals and dreams. Below: Terry D’Alessandro (center) and Jennifer Slack (right) chat with Abigail Campoli about her leadership board and what it means to her.

Below: Renee Cardwell Hughes, CEO of American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Linda Munich, vice president of public affairs for 6 ABC, and Charisse R. Lillie, vice president of community investment at Comcast Corporation and president of the Comcast Foundation. Lillie was the recipient of the United Way’s 2011 Women’s Initiative Award.

Below: Katherine Cintron (right) tells me she’s very proud of her daughter, Tatyana Devine (left), and the growth that she has shown after being a part of the Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow program.

Below: Alba Martinez, former president & CEO of United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast Corporation, and Maria Arias, executive director of diversity and inclusion, Comcast Corporation. On Thursday, the Jewish National Fund will honor Cohen at its Tree of Life award dinner at Vie.

Below: Rosemary Turner (right), president of UPS, Chesapeake District, and board chair for United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, asks Bobbie Xayomungkhoun (left) about her dreams and goals, and about her experience in the GTLT class. Later, when Turner addressed the crowd, she said she was thrilled to see such an incredible gathering of leaders and that she knows first hand how crucial it is to have a network of support for a young women. Without key individuals to encourage you, “few of us would reach our full potential.”

Below: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown was honored with the 2012 Women’s Initiative Award. The award was presented by Jill Michal, president and CEO, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, who said both the United Way and Reynolds Brown are similar in that, “we’re both committed to ensuring the success of women and girls in our region.” In her thank-you speech, Reynolds Brown stressed that there was always room at the decision-making table for women, and women need to empower each other to take a seat. In the future, one of those women might be Shakyra Streater (center), a recent graduate of the GLTL program.