The Changemakers: An Ode to Women United on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day is not owned by one organization, instead belonging “to all groups collectively everywhere.”  

Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist, and activist explained this concept saying, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Together, women from across the world have joined United Way to fight for opportunity for all. Women United is a global force of over 70,000 women dedicated to creating lasting and transformational change to lift up entire communities. Here in Southeast Louisiana, over 150 Women United members fight to eradicate poverty among women and children in our region. We are a diverse, vibrant community, bound together by a powerful sense of belonging – to each other, to our mission and to the women and children of Louisiana.

Founded in 2002, Women United has led the charge on many important issues such as early childhood education, domestic violence reform, pay equity, and improving the health outcomes of Louisiana’s children. Under the guidance of our fierce Chairwoman Elizabeth Ellison-Frost, our members will make their second trip to the Louisiana Capitol this May to lobby on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of households in our region struggling to make ends meet. 

Advocacy and philanthropy are at the heart of Women United. 

In each community we serve, we tackle the issues that matter most to the people who call it home. We empower each other to leverage our passions, ideas, expertise, and resources to improve our neighbor’s lives. With more than $2.5 million invested in local solutions, we’re able to positively impact our backyard while also being part of the bigger picture and a broader cause. 

We’re raising our voices, rolling up our sleeves, and leaving our fingerprints on a legacy of change that benefits everyone. 

One woman who exemplifies the values of Women United is past Chairwoman Cathy McRae. After a successful career as an international executive, Cathy now funnels her time and talent into giving back to the New Orleans community. She is a tireless advocate for United Way and a constant in all that we do. Her philanthropic leadership was noticed nationally – and Cathy is currently serving on the Women United Global Leadership Council – an extraordinary and much-deserved accomplishment.

International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate exceptional women like Cathy, and recognize that United together, we can make a difference

Join us as we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. If you would like to know more about how to get involved with Women United, please email me at


Michelle Clark Payne

Vice President, Marketing and Investor Relations

United Way of Southeast Louisiana