1,000 women gather to mark decade of United Way giving

By Sandra Rodriguez….

Pictured (l-r) are Lena and Natasha Lowell, and Sue Kronick.

The United Way celebrated its 10th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The event was attended by 1,000 of the most prominent women in Miami-Dade who gathered to celebrate a decade of giving in support of education, income and health programs and services in the community.

Guests included Dr. Donna Shalala, president of University of Miami; Sue Miller, founding member of the Women’s Leadership program; U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Jayne Abess, incoming United Way board chair; Dr. Mercy Quiroga, president of Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus and chair of the Women’s Leadership Council, and keynote speaker Sue Kronick, among many others.

Quiroga opened the ceremony and shared how she first came to know United Way through her brother who worked for the organization. Upon his death, she committed to remain involved as a way to honor his memory.

Longtime supporters of United Way and event co-chairs, Laura Escobar and Natasha Lowell, thanked the 80 event vice chairs who helped to make the breakfast a success, and reminded everyone “everyday, thousands of individuals receive help through any one of the more than 130 United Way-funded programs.”

A short video told the story of one such individual, Jazmine, a child with special needs. In the video, Jazmine’s parents share how United Way is helping them overcome hardships and secure the special care and physical therapy Jazmine requires. Jazmine and her mother, Yaimira, were both in attendance.

In her keynote address, Kronick, who recently retired as vice chair of Macy’s Inc., spoke about the widows of the Rwandan genocide and how these women worked together, weaving and selling baskets to secure their livelihood. One American businesswoman, Willa Shalit, helped the women to successfully market their baskets worldwide.

“An individual can truly make a difference in small ways; you don’t have to be exceedingly privileged or have a secret to fixing the world, you just have to grasp the importance of giving back to your community,” she said.

As an iconic, top female executive, Kronick inspired guests and encouraged them to continue to be powerful, influential and limitless in their achievements.

The breakfast concluded with a presentation of Rwanda Path to Peace baskets to all the program participants.

Since its inception in 2001, the annual breakfast has raised more than $6 million for the community.

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