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Women's Endowment Fund hosts virtual dinner with more than 700 guests

Jill Penrose headshot
Jill Penrose, The J.M. Smucker Company

On May 12, the Women's Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation celebrated uplifting women and girls with more than 700 guests during its first-ever "For Women, From Home" In-Home Dinner and Online Program. The virtual event replaced the fund's traditional, in-person "For Women, Forever" annual dinner, which was postponed in March due to government recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19.

To bring the event experience home, Robert J. Events & Catering delivered three-course meals and Women's Endowment Fund memorabilia to event attendees. In addition, the fund also donated 500 meals to essential workers of the Akron Area YMCA Pandemic Child Care Centers, Akron Fire Department, Akron METRO RTA, and Akron Police Department.

Throughout the evening, event host and WKYC anchor Sara Shookman entertained viewers, while keynote speaker Jill Penrose, chief people and administrative officer of The J.M. Smucker Company, gave a compelling address about her personal and professional journey, the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and her advice for success as a minority Fortune 500 C-suite executive. 

"What I've reflected on in preparing for this evening are four things that have been really important to me: role models, advocates and allies; lifelines; and the seemingly ordinary stuff that's ultimately extraordinary and life changing," said Penrose. "The reason we are here together is because we believe in our hearts that the seemingly small things we do, really make a difference."

The fund also presented its fifth annual Judith A. Read Tribute Award for Service and Advocacy for Women to Sylvia D. Trundle, retired captain of patrol subdivision for Akron Police Department.

The Women's Endowment Fund announced more than $200,000 in grants to programs that support the health and wellness, safety, and economic empowerment of local women and girls. The fund also noted that its "Who Is Your SHEro?" campaign has been extended through May 18 to accommodate additional fundraising. During the event, the campaign reached nearly $40,000 in total fundraising for local COVID-19 relief.

"Our fund persevered to successfully deliver this event in a unique and safe way during these uncertain times," said Sherry Neubert, event chair. "Last night showed how strong and supportive our community is and how resilient we all are. We are truly grateful to be able to continue our work for the betterment of women and girls in Greater Akron."

The "For Women, From Home" In-Home Dinner and Online Program was presented in partnership with The J.M. Smucker Company. Additional major sponsors for this year's event include GOJO; Leppo Rents; FirstEnergy Foundation; Cleveland Clinic Akron General; Ernst & Young; The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company; Pam Kanfer Charitable Fund of Fidelity Charitable; Myers Industries, Inc.; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Synthomer plc; and The University of Akron.

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