United Way of Miami-Dade and keynote speaker and founder of the lifestyle brand Aerin, Aerin Lauder, welcomed more than a 1,000 women to the 15th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast on January 20th, 2016, at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center.
Rosary Plana Falero, United Way Women’s Leadership Chair, kicked off the program, sharing her personal experiences with United Way. Soon after, seven of the Women’s Leadership members followed, sharing their own connections. Many of the leaders and members spoke sharing insight and spreading inspirational messages. Aerin spoke mainly about the history of Estée Lauder and her grandmother. She spoke about how she gained a lot of wisdom and learned many lessons from her. This later led her to combine business and charitable work into one.
Darlene Boytell-Pérez, United Way board member, led the event and spoke about United Way’s work in the health industry. For 15 years, this breakfast has been an event that addresses how important it is to do admirable work and to support women in today’s world of business and philanthropy. As this message was spoken, each of the women led with their own personal, charitable, and professional experiences. Aerin said, “The communities we build must be founded on these personal and meaningful connections.”
During the breakfast, a mother and daughter, Sue and Leslie Saiontz, spoke about how United Way Women’s Leadership got started 15 years ago. Back then Sue had invited Bonnie McElveen-Hunter to have lunch with her and her friends, which later led to the start of the Leadership Program. When it began, only 200 women were in attendance, but since then nearly 2,000 women attend and they have raised almost $81 million dollars.
At the Leadership Breakfast, guests also supported United Way’s ReadingPals program by purchasing children’s books. These donations provide children transitioning from preschool to kindergarten with a bag full of age-appropriate, take-home books to continue enhancing their literacy skills and love of books beyond the classroom.
As the breakfast came to a close, Aerin finished with an inspiring message, acknowledging the women for their extraordinary accomplishments and urging them to continue working hard at their labor of love. She said, “The great work you do doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes it requires more energy than we think ourselves are capable of having; yet we must continue to build and follow our dreams.”