The 18th annual Women United Breakfast, held for women who contribute $1,000 or more to United Way of Miami-Dade, raised a record-breaking $400,000 on February 22. The breakfast solidified the commitment event attendees have made to making Miami the very best it can be for children, families and generations to come. Together, the women of Miami are an unstoppable force for good.
Mother/daughter team Alicia Cervera Lamadrid and Alicia “Ali” Lamadrid Paysse co-chaired the breakfast, introducing speakers and updating guests on all that our United Way has been working toward building in our community over the past year. From sponsoring snack packs for children and advocating for Florida’s legislature to the updated ALICE Report, guests received a bird’s-eye view into all that we fight for when fighting for a stronger Miami.
The duo also introduced guests to Women United For Our Future—a new initiative that will help transform the lives of women and girls throughout Miami-Dade and as a result, transform communities for generations to come.
As a testament to our work, speakers Sandrell and her daughter Rachel spoke firsthand about how United Way of Miami-Dade has impacted their lives, helping them to navigate the hardships of everyday life. Sandrell, a single mother, enrolled Rachel in one of United Way’s partner agencies, the Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida, at a young age, and it helped prepare her daughter for the real world—even before she was able to understand what the real world was. Through Girl Scouts, Rachel was able to strengthen her public speaking, navigate financial aid applications and earned the Girl Scouts’ highest award—the Gold Award. She was also a part of United Way Youth Institute while in high school, and now as a freshman at Florida Atlantic University, she sees how the Girl Scouts taught her to value her presence in the world, seek opportunities to do great work and make an impact.
After showing guests a big part of what our United Way does to improve the education, financial stability and health of our community, keynote speaker Indra Nooyi was brought to the stage for a discussion which inspired, excited and united guests.
Leslie Miller Saiontz, founder and CEO of Achieve Miami, an impact investor, philanthropist and longtime board chair of Teach for America Miami-Dade, asked Nooyi probing questions that revealed much of what life was like for a female minority CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Nooyi was PepsiCo’s first female CEO in its 53-year history. Before stepping down as CEO in October of last year, she was one of only 25 women—and the first Indian-American—to lead a Fortune 500 company. A champion for many issues, from women’s leadership to education, she offered a lot of wisdom and perspective to the captive audience.
“We didn’t have much money,” Nooyi said of her circumstances growing up. “We were rich with love, intellectual curiosity and ambition. And all of that brought me to the shores of the United States, and the rest is history.”
That history was full of many positive changes for PepsiCo—and many lessons Nooyi learned not just from the company she championed for 12 years, but from her daughters. “There was one time where my younger daughter had to take chocolate cookies to school for a bake sale, and I failed my daughter as I forgot to take the cookies,” Nooyi mentioned. “And when she came home, her face was crestfallen. She said, “Mom, you didn’t show up with the cookies to school and everyone was waiting for it.” I felt mortified that I didn’t deliver on that. I asked her, “Do you want me to quit my job and stay home?” She was eight or nine, and she looked at me horrified and said, “Mom. You worked so hard to get here. Dream on, dream big, it’s just cookies!”
Nooyi continued her words of wisdom with more family anecdotes, as well as a lesson for women overall: “Decide for yourself very clearly what roles you want to play in your life and enroll an ecosystem to help you. You just can’t do it all yourself. I can say this in Miami because many of you come from immigrant families. I speak now as a retired CEO.”
Amidst talking about her current situation, which heavily involves spending more time catering to her family and binge watching TV shows that she’s missed, Nooyi touched upon sisterhood, a fitting topic for the audience. “We need to trust each other and pull each other up … I’d love for us to be more active supporters of other women.”
In addition to family, Nooyi plans on focusing her attention on speaking to and inspiring groups of women in the near future. After all, nothing is more powerful than the will of a woman.
Women United began with only 300 women 18 years ago, and today they are nearly 2,700 members strong and connected to a global movement representing 70,000 plus women in 165 communities across six countries.
Watch the video below to find out how United Way Women United creates lasting change through philanthropy, leadership and advocacy: