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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Annual Maya Angelou gala luncheon raises dollars for scholars
UNCF Women Who Lead fundraiser
Published Tuesday, September 19, 2017 8:00 am
by Ashley Mahoney

The Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon is a major Charlotte fundraiser for the UNCF.

Bring out your biggest and best hats for UNCF’s 15th Anniversary Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon.

Honoring education through a day of fundraising, the event kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Westin Charlotte on Sept. 23. From the HATitude! showcase, which runs from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., to the inaugural “baddest bow-tie” competition, the gala promises an extra splash of flair.

“The UNCF 15th Anniversary Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon has become a premiere fundraising event in Charlotte,” UNCF Area Development Director Tiffany Jones said. “Each year it attracts over 500 ladies, and a few gentlemen, who come out not just to have fun, but to celebrate the honorees, while at the same time networking, shopping and just having a really good time at the event.”

Patrons can shop and mingle before sitting down to lunch from 12- 2 p.m. Celebrity guests include singer/actor Maria Howell of “Hidden Figures” and “The Color Purple,” and Julian Brittano of “Greenleaf” and “Shots Fired.”

While the event has a festive vibe, it carries a serious message—the significance of education for under-represented students.

“[We exist] to build a robust and nationally recognized pipeline of under-represented students who, because of UNCF support, become highly-qualified college graduates and ensure that our network of member institutions is a respected model of best practice in moving students to and through college,” Jones said.

The mission is reflected in the women honored. The 2017 class includes: 2017 Maya Angelou/Elizabeth Ross Dargan Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Carlenia Ivory, a family engagement specialist and Charlotte City Council representative and Maya Angelou/Women Who Lead Young Leader Jada S. Grandy-Mock, a regional vice president at Fifth Third Bank. Other honorees include Novant Health Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion OfficerTanya Blackmon, Arts & Science Council Executive Vice President Toni L. Freeman, N.C. Superior Court Judge Yvonne Mims Evans and Charlotte Center City Partners Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Communications Moria Quinn.  

It is quite an honor to be recognition at the UNCF Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon.

"The UNCF is an organization that helps African Americans give life to their hopes and dreams of pursuing any career that they choose," Blackmon said. "To join the ranks of other great women in Charlotte who have been recognized by this organization is a proud moment for me in my career. I am proud to be walking in the light of a remarkable woman, Dr. Maya Angelou."

“The biggest task is to select the honorees, because the honorees really do drive attendance at the event,” Jones said. “They are women who are leaders in the community. Women who are well respected in the community, and are women who give back, and in some way, shape or form support education.”
While the nonprofit was founded as the United Negro College Fund, it provides scholarships for all ethnicities.

“We raise money for scholarships for students across the country,” Jones said. “We do have five member institutions here in the state of North Carolina. However students who apply for our scholarships do not have to be African American. They do not have to attend an HBCU. A lot of times people are not aware of that. We really try to emphasize the fact that anyone can apply for our scholarships. We have over 40 scholarships at any given time. You just have to go onto the website and apply for the scholarship that meets your needs.”

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