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15 Years of Women United

Last Thursday night was a celebration to mark the 15 years that United Way of Southeast Louisiana has had an official women’s philanthropic group dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in our communities. We acknowledged the 50 founding members of the Women’s Leadership Initiative in 2002, which grew into Women’s Leadership Council, and is now Women United! 15 years plus $2.4 million in donations, combined with unlimited commitment and passion from our amazing members, have led to systemic changes in Louisiana around quality early childhood education; protection and awareness around domestic violence; the fight for equal pay; and advocating for programs that will lead to the eradication of poverty in Southeast Louisiana. We also honored our 2017 Legislative Champions who are helping create the lasting change needed for stronger, more vibrant communities. Wow!

It’s difficult to sum up 15 years in a few words, but here are a couple of my thoughts: 

Collaboration- this is the definitive word that describes Women United.  From the very beginning, there was an immediate collaboration between the 50 founders to take on the difficult issues facing women and children in our communities. And it only continued to grow - collaboration with agencies that provide the services directly, collaboration with partners that are working on similar issues to take a more synergistic approach and tackle symptoms faster, and collaboration on training and education to move forward and improve.  What is truly exciting for me about Women United is our whole-system approach to an issue, by donating money for a short-term solution - which is needed to stabilize a situation - while looking at mid-term and long-term systemic change. This collaboration, combined with advocacy at a state and local level, is a proven model to effect change.  Please take a few minutes to view our videos to learn more about our history and the issues that we support.

And I hope that you are inspired to continue or join our efforts. We are aligned with United Way’s Blueprint for Prosperity and committed to eradicating poverty in Southeast Louisiana by enriching the lives of women and children. By joining Women United, you will have a unique opportunity to have your voice be heard, and join the full collaboration of like-minded women to effect positive change. We have something for everyone - meetings to hear about important issues and decide how we want to allocate our funds, volunteer opportunities that allow for a hands-on approach, and book clubs and networking events with other accomplished, amazing, civic-minded women. Please join us as we kick off our next 15 years to continue to fight for high-quality education, physical and mental wellness, communities free from domestic violence, equal pay, and to look at how we can empower folks to work in a harassment free environment. 

Click here for photos from the event.

Cathy McRae
Chairwoman, Women United
United Way of Southeast Louisiana