L to R: James W. Horne Jr., President & CEO of United Way of Greater Union County, Kimberly Smith Comcast Director, Government Affairs-Community Investment, Allison Yablonowitz, Ernst & Young and United Way Board Member, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, Susan Levy, United Way Board Member and Debbie-Ann Anderson, Senior Vice President & COO United Way of Greater Union County (Photo courtesy of UWGUC)
Junior Ambassadors who helped plan Celebration of Womanhood Conference (Photo courtesy of UWGUC)
ELIZABETH –United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC) hosted the 3rd annual Celebration of Womanhood Conference – Triumph & Transformation: A Journey of Self Discovery, on Saturday, March 17 at Kean University. UWGUC was the recipient of the 2011 Annual Celebration of Womanhood Conference grant from NJ Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee administered through the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission. More than 250 young women ages 13-17 from across the State of New Jersey, residing in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Union counties attended.
The morning portion of the event included keynote presentations from two dynamic women. The young ladies were overjoyed to see reality TV show star, entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author, Antonia “Toya” Wright entered the room at the start of the event. Toya shared things about life and her journey as a daughter of drug induced parents, struggles of being a teen mother, and her lessons on love and acceptance. Toya’s message delivered a real and heartfelt understanding about relationships and growing up. New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno followed Toya. Ms. Guadagno’s message emphasized the importance of getting a good education and striving for greatness in a demanding world. Both messages served as inspiring and tangible testaments that helped to empower the young women to recognize ways in which being females impacts their lives and encouraged them to maximize their life choices.
The afternoon portion of the event offered a number of workshops facilitated by influential and professional women from across the state. Workshop topics included healthy lifestyles, relationships, goals and visions, positive body image and self-esteem, etiquette and professionalism. The workshops were designed to empower the young women and provide them with the resources they need to make responsible decisions.
After a fun packed day of presentations and motivational workshops the event closed with a panel forum that included special guests: Itzia Arroyo (Chemistry Scientist, Merck & Co.), Janice Kovach (Mayor of Clinton Township), Betty Maul (owner of FrontEnd Graphics in Cherry Hill) and Legislative District 20 Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. The panelist shared their personal experiences as women in leadership roles or positions in a male dominated world. Their triumphant messages helped in encouraging the audience to foster their dreams of a better tomorrow without compromising their integrity and self-worth today.
“The Juvenile Justice Commission was pleased to support the United Way of Greater Union County’s Celebration of Womanhood conference. Funding provided by the Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee allows communities and organizations like the United Way help young people succeed,” said JJC Acting Executive Director Gloria R. Hancock, Ed.D. “Every young woman who attended this conference left more confident and better prepared for challenges that each will face throughout their lives.”
“United Way is very grateful and honored to have hosted this wonderful event,” said James W. Horne Jr., President & CEO of United Way of Greater Union County. “This event truly celebrates all women in history and empowers the next generation through awareness, action and female connections, setting a positive course for their futures. We were thrilled to see so many happy faces and look forward to next year, ”stated Horne.
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