From October 18-20, over 200 philanthropic women leaders from communities all throughout the United Way network gathered in Cincinnati for the United Way Worldwide Women United Summit to share ideas and inspiration for driving lasting community change. The Women United Summit convened, connected and celebrated dynamic business and community leaders who are committed to igniting the power of women to advance impact through their respective United Way communities.
Founded in 2002 and officially re-branded at the Summit, Women United is comprised of over 70,000 women donors and volunteers, that have raised more than $1.5 billion to solve local problems, often for girls’ empowerment initiatives, school readiness, bolstering reading and strengthening families. Since its founding, Women United has become the fastest growing donor network within United Way, boasting a 2.3% percent increase in donor growth from 2015-2016. The Summit was sponsored locally by Macy's, Western & Southern Financial Group and the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund.
“I’m so excited to be in your company this week. Such powerful and passionate women are not easy to come by, so I thank you for setting aside your other roles (mom, partner, executive, scout leader, teacher, laundress, driver, and so much more) to be with us,” said Lisa Bowman, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, United Way Worldwide, during her opening remarks at the Summit.
“One more role I forgot to mention – changemaker. Women are so often the igniter of change, the catalyst for activism in any community. We are the backbone and the conscience so often. Women United was built with that in mind – we are strongest when we are fighting together.”
Women attending the Summit participated in a number of learning sessions throughout the week, with topics including Moving the Needle on Community Impact, Women Advancing Philanthropy, How to build a Women United Network in Your Local Community, Strengthening Women United Through Diversity and Inclusion and The A's to Z's of Advocacy.
At the Summit attendees also assembled 300 learning kits comprised of books, school supplies and enrichment materials as part of a collective volunteer project. The volunteers then delivered the kits to various Cincinnati Preschool Promise sites where they also read to the children at each site.
United Way of Greater Cincinnati held a Host City Reception for Summit attendees and local Women United at the Aronoff Center for the Arts to celebrate the work of our local Women United leaders and showcase Greater Cincinnati's culinary and fine arts. In addition to Summit sponsors Macy's, Western & Southern Financial Group and the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Chubb also served as a sponsor of the Host City Reception.
“The work of our Women United in Cincinnati is critical for our United Way,” said Rob Reifsnyder, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Our local women leaders make possible accelerated work towards women’s self-sufficiency, early childcare and education, and advocacy efforts both locally and nationally. I continue to be amazed by and am grateful for the dedication of these incredible women in our local community.”
United Way’s Women of Tocqueville serve as mentors for local single mothers who are working to continue their education and business experiences on the path to financial stability. Both Women of Tocqueville and WINGs members guide and mentor local elementary school girls through a 3-D printing program.
In addition, WINGs members have adopted Cincinnati Preschool Promise as their volunteer initiative in 2017. They are working to support preschool providers within the Preschool Promise network on parent/teacher engagement and educational tools for children.