Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Council Women, Wine & Cheese All Getting “Better With Age”

By Kathleen Harris Hicks….

Moderator DeAnne Graham with Panelists: Constance Collins Margulies, Founder of The Lotus House Shelter for Women; Joy Malakoff, Senior Vice President, BankUnited; Jeanne Westphal, President, Jeanne Westphal Associates.

On Tuesday, February 1, 2011, The Women’s Business Council of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce presented an evening entitled “Better With Age” at the De Rodriguez Ocean Restaurant in the Hilton Bentley Hotel. The event had a wine & cheese tasting theme, along with a panel discussion featuring three inspiring and trailblazing women, all of whom have become “better with age”.

The esteemed panel included: Joy Malakoff, Senior Vice President, BankUnited, and Past Chair, Board of Governors, Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce (1993-96); Constance Collins Margulies, Founder of The Sundari Foundation, Inc. and the Lotus House Shelter for Women; Jeanne Westphal, President, Jeanne Westphal Associates, and Former Director, Hospitality Institute, Miami-Dade College International Hospitality Center. Ms. Westphal is also a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Tourism in the Carter Administration (1977-80). The discussion was moderated by DeAnne Connolly Graham, Director of Sales & Marketing, Welcome & Bienvenidos Visitor Magazines, and Incoming Chair of the Women’s Business Council.

The evening began with the wine and cheese tasting reception in the first hour, poolside. The refreshments were provided by Leticia de Mello Bueno of Gastronomisti, in conjunction with the restaurant; all arrangements were handled with a fine touch by Irene D’Auria, the Events Coordinator for the establishment and Women’s Business Council member. The sunset backdrop provided a serene, South Beach “glow” to the gathering.

Ms. Malakoff shared her experience of attending Radcliffe College in Massachusetts, then returning to Florida to marry and start a family, and later entering the workforce after graduating from the University of Miami, having raised young children. The “balancing act” that this undertaking required – working in the banking field, surrounded predominantly by male colleagues, and maintaining a family structure – may have been challenging at times, however it was clear that she finds joy in her work, helping customers in the banking arena.

Ms. Margulies recounted her experience working in the corporate world, then finding her true calling as the founder of the Lotus House Shelter for Women. She is now living her passion through creating and operating a resource center that assists homeless women and children with transitional housing and support services.

Ms. Westphal recalled traveling around the world, working diligently to promote tourism to the United States. She spoke of her rich experiences, partaking in the cultures of the various countries she was fortunate to have lived in. She gained numerous longlasting friendships and learned to work with “the boys” in a mostly male-dominated environment.

The panelists were asked a variety of questions on topics related to their personal and professional growth. They were able to look back on their experiences at this time in their lives, and take stock of their present circumstances, while realizing that their work is far from done. All three ladies attested to how their current endeavors invigorate them and fuel their desire to keep going and achieve more.

“Better With Age” was indeed an inspiring, educational experience for all attendees, and set a high bar for future programming to be produced by the Women’s Business Council.

This event was presented in collaboration with the Miami Beach Commission for Women, with the goal of reaching out to women in our local community who would benefit from the valuable information presented in this format.


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