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United Way Blog

Donna Karan Joins 1,200 Women to Celebrate Philanthropy

Last month, more than 1,200 women came together to celebrate philanthropy with United Way of Miami-Dade. 

International fashion icon and philanthropist Donna Karan offered the keynote address to a record gathering of 1,200 women at the 11th Annual United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast, Sept. 28, at the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami. Since 2001, the community’s most powerful women have gathered at this annual breakfast, bringing together hearts and resources in support of United Way of Miami-Dade’s work in education, income and health

This year’s program included inspiring words from Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wassermann Shultz; Women’s Leadership chair Gladys Reed and incoming chair Kathleen Woods-Richardson; breakfast co-chairs Sue Miller and her daughter Leslie Miller Saiontz; University of Miami President Donna Shalala; and United Way board chair, Jayne Abess among others.

In her keynote address, Karan explained that throughout her career in fashion design, she learned she needed to not only “dress people, but to address them,” which meant focusing on the heart, body and soul. She founded the Urban Zen Foundation in 2007 to focus on advancing wellness, preserving culture and empowering children and, “to create a community of consciousness and change.” Karan shared her passion for merging philanthropy with commerce and how currently she is collaborating with Haitian artisans as a means of helping the Haitian people rebuild their country. 

Karan applauded the contributions of women gathered and the work of United Way of Miami-Dade. “It is through connecting and collaborating that we can create change,” Karan said. The breakfast raises funds to support United Way’s community plan, which focuses on education, financial stability and health, the United Way Endowment and the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education.

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