Goldie Hawn headlines United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast

Pictured (l-r) are Nanci Hellinger, Lisa Mendelson, Goldie Hawn, Arlene Mendelson, Kim Mendelson and Tammy Hellinger.

Pictured (l-r) are Nanci Hellinger, Lisa Mendelson, Goldie Hawn, Arlene Mendelson, Kim Mendelson and Tammy Hellinger.

Academy Award-winning actress, producer, director, best-selling author and children’s advocate Goldie Hawn offered the keynote address at the 12th annual United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast on Nov. 7 at the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami.

Since 2001, the community’s most powerful women gather at this annual breakfast, bringing together hearts and resources in support of United Way of Miami-Dade’s work in education, financial stability and health.

This year’s event included inspiring words from Breakfast chair and former United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Sue Cobb; Women’s Leadership chair Kathleen Woods- Richardson; longtime supporters of United Way, Sue Miller and Leslie Miller Saiontz; University of Miami president Donna Shalala, and United Way board chair Jayne Abess.

Two themes resonated throughout the morning program — the power of women to effect change and the importance of instilling the values of service and philanthropy in the next generation.

Following are some highlights from the breakfast:

Hawn, who founded The Hawn Foundation in 2005 to equip children with the social and emotional skills they need to lead smarter, healthier, and happier lives noted, “The private sector is an extraordinary group to belong to, because we have the power to change.

“If we don’t innovate and if we don’t support the innovators, then we will never make change or create a better future. All of you sitting here today are vital to that process. This is extraordinary what we do — we give, to create,” Hawn said.

“United Way’s Women’s Leadership group has a life of its own,” Ambassador Cobb said. “Women just intuitively understand what it means to live united, where we can, when we can and how we can. Women want to give back.”

Shalala said, “It all comes back to us. So many of us have employees who take advantage of United Way
programs. That is why the University of Miami is pleased to be one of the leaders in the community raising money for United Way.”

In her opening remarks, Woods- Richardson, who currently chairs the Women’s Leadership group, thanked the 1,300 women in attendance.

“We have a packed house. This is our largest breakfast ever,” Woods-Richardson said.

A short video told the story of Hannah, a 5-year-old who was born with a speech disorder. With the help of a United Way-funded program at Hearing and Speech, Hannah has learned to speak and today attends kindergarten. Hannah’s mother, Naomi, thanked the audience for giving to United Way and in doing so, helping Hannah overcome her speech challenges.

“You have given my family a most precious gift. You have given our Hannah her voice and with that a lifetime of opportunity,” she said.

United Way Women’s Leadership unites women in the spirit of philanthropy and service through advocacy, volunteer opportunities, professional development seminars and networking, and social events. Members each give $1,000 or more annually in support of United Way of Miami-Dade.

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