Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program Gala
Nearly $1.1 Million raised for more than 4300 Mentees in South Florida and beyond
The Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program celebrated 21 years of working to improve the lives of at-risk students at its annual sold-out black-tie Gala chaired by Marisa Toccin Lucas. Held at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami on Brickell Key, the noted non-profit is dedicated to inspiring, motivating and empowering at-risk young women, a program that was founded by Jennifer Valoppi and Don Browne along with the Honorable Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
The highlight of this year’s Gala was honoring Leadership Award Recipient, David Muir, Anchor of ABC World News Tonight and the #1 news anchor in the country. Muir has long served as Women of Tomorrow’s celebrity ambassador at New York events and is a strong advocate for mentoring young people. Valoppi introduced him with a photo he sent her when he was a teenager standing in front of a television set with Valoppi on it, when she was anchoring at superstation WWOR in New York. He spoke about the importance of having been mentored and encouraged by many in the television business as a young man.
“Mentoring the next generation is one of the most gratifying things anyone can do. The impact our mentors have on these students is profound and life-changing,” Valoppi said. “We know we are breaking the cycles of violence, poverty and abuse.”
The evening’s live auction was filled with dazzling items, including a trio of diamond bracelets contributed by Jeweler to the Stars Jeffrey Rackover who joined auctioneers Jennifer Valoppi and Telemundo’s Jorge Bernal on stage. Rackover surprised guests by generously contributing an additional set to the 2 highest bidders. Bidding was fierce for a 2-year lease on an Aston Martin Vantage Coupe donated by Marquee Sponsor THE COLLECTION. The auction was rounded out with a shopping spree at Neiman Marcus, Bal Harbour.
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430 guests, including community leaders, celebrities and philanthropists were in attendance, including Superintendent Alberto Carvalho who helped raise much needed funds to support the program. This annual gala provides critical support for Women of Tomorrow, a program that has touched the lives of more than 16,000 at-risk high school girls in South Florida, Detroit and Philadelphia. The unique program pairs highly accomplished professional women with high school students. The mentees meet in group sessions monthly to learn the skills necessary for personal and professional success. Not only does Women of Tomorrow boast a 95% high school graduation rate, amongst an at-risk population, the organization has also awarded nearly $6.5 million in college scholarships.
The event began with a cocktail reception featuring curated hors d’oeuvres conceptualized by the Mandarin Oriental, Miami’s Executive Chef along with flowing champagne, wine & cocktails provided by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. The highly coveted silent auction was sponsored by Bal Harbour Shops and chaired by Gigi Whitman. Guests bid high on items donated by GUCCI, KITON, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, PRADA, LALIQUE, VALENTINO, DAVID YURMAN, ROGER VIVIER, ERMANNO SCERVINO, TOURNEAU, VALEXTRA, MONALISA, ETRO, SALVATORE FERRAGAMO, VHERNIER and many more. Supporters were then escorted into the ballroom where they enjoyed dinner and dancing late into the evening to the sounds of the Danny Beck Band.
Other honorees included Mentor of the Year, Jayne Weintraub-Sale; Excellence Award, Marc H. Auerbach Esq. & Marc Goldsand Esq. Cozen & O’Connor; and Empowerment Award, the organization’s Miami Dade Leadership Council which includes Pearl Baker-Katz, Lauren Beall, Eilah Beavers, Maria Beguiristain, Susanne Birbragher, Lesli Brown, Suzy Buckley Woodward, Cindy Clayman, Michele Criden, Michele Erez, Heidi Heinau, Alexa Iacovelli, Carol Iacovelli, Candise Shanbron, Dana Shear, Tara Solomon, Lauren Sturges-Fernandez, Daniela Swaebe, Marisa Toccin Lucas, Alexa Wolman & Alison Zhuk.