L’Oreal Paris honored 10 women pursuing their passions and improving the lives of others through giving back to their communities at the 10th anniversary Women of Worth celebration last night. The company named Schinnell Leake, founder of Extra-Ordinary Birthdays, dedicated to providing homeless children with birthday parties, as the National Honoree of its signature philanthropic program. Former Honoree Lisa Williams received the first-ever Women of Worth Impact Award in celebration of the 10th anniversary to recognize her continued work in protecting sex trafficking victims. Over the past 10 years, L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth has empowered and honored 100 incredible women tackling some of society’s most pressing issues, transforming tens of thousands of lives.
Thought leaders, philanthropists, executives and celebrities gathered at The Pierre in New York City to honor the incredible 2015 Women of Worth Honorees and celebrate their inspiring stories. The event featured special presentations by L’Oreal Paris ambassadors Karlie Kloss, Eva Longoria, Andie MacDowell, Julianne Moore, Aimee Mullins and Freida Pinto. Arianna Huffington, Hoda Kotb, Mary Alice Stephenson, and 2014 Women of Worth National Honoree Phyllis Sudman also helped to honor this year’s winners.
“During our 10th anniversary year, it is thrilling to see such exceptional women join our Women of Worth family. They find the beauty in giving back by selflessly and tirelessly volunteering time and energy to serve their communities. The passion for their work and dedication to their causes is inspiring to us all,” said L’Oreal Paris President, Karen T. Fondu. “The resulting ripple effect of all 100 Women of Worth honored over the past decade is a testament to the transformative power of giving back. L’Oreal Paris is committed to elevating women who serve others. We are so proud of all of the accomplishments of our Women of Worth Honorees.”
Each Women of Worth Honoree, who received $10,000 for their organization, was chosen following a rigorous nomination process led by L’Oreal Paris and the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, Points of Light. The 2015 Women of Worth National Honoree, Schinnell Leake, was awarded an additional $25,000 after receiving thousands of public votes via the L’Oreal Paris website and social channels in support of her efforts celebrating the birthdays and self-worth of children living in local homeless shelters. The College Park, Md. resident created Extra-Ordinary Birthdays after learning that more than 2,000 children live in homeless shelters throughout the Washington, D.C. area. As a mother and a party planner, she knew how important it was for children to feel confident and have self-worth. Since founding her organization five years ago, Extra-Ordinary Birthdays has thrown more than 400 birthday parties and partnered with six homeless shelters in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
“Words cannot adequately express how proud I am to be recognized as one of L’Oreal Paris’ 2015 Women of Worth and to be voted on by so many to be the National Honoree,” said Schinnell Leake, founder of Extra-Ordinary Birthdays. “This incredibly generous donation from L’Oreal Paris means so much to our organization and will help us expand our reach to create even more birthday celebrations for deserving kids who are homeless in the Washington, D.C. and Maryland regions.”
Three-term New York Mayor, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Michael R. Bloomberg joined the festivities to present the inaugural L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Impact Award which recognizes a Women of Worth alumna who has demonstrated a continued commitment to her work. Bloomberg presented the award to Atlanta, Georgia native Lisa Williams, which included a $10,000 grant from L’Oreal Paris for her cause. A Women of Worth Honoree five years ago, Williams was noted for embodying the L’Oreal Paris philosophy that “Every Woman is Worth It,” providing a safe haven for women and children who have been victimized by violence. Through her Circle of Friends and The Living Water Programs, she has worked to pass state legislation protecting these victims and expanded the organization’s resources and impact from Georgia to multiple states across the country.
“It is an absolute honor to once again be recognized by L’Oreal Paris with the inaugural Women of Worth Impact Award,” said Lisa Williams, founder of Circle of Friends and The Living Water Programs. “The Women of Worth program has played such an important part in expanding our work to champion women who need a safe haven, and this award and donation will only help to increase that impact to help more through their healing process.”
2015 WOMEN OF WORTH HONOREES
This year’s Women of Worth Honorees are united in their passion to improve the lives of others and support a wide range of causes and projects. From fighting drug addiction and helping homeless veterans, to creating a shelter for young victims of human trafficking, the 10 2015 Women of Worth Honorees include: College Park, Md.’s Schinnell Leake, Founder of Extra-Ordinary Birthdays; Washington D.C.’s Maria Rose Belding, Founder of MEANS Database; Atlanta, Ga.’s Jaha Dukureh, Founder of Safe Hands for Girls; Elissa Davey, of Vista, Calif. Founder of Garden of Innocence; Prairie Village, Kan.’s SuEllen Fried, Founder of Reaching Out from Within; Teri Kelsall, of Laguna Woods, Calif., Co-Founder of The Jonas Project; Kathy Koenigsdorf, of East Islip, N.Y., Founder of The Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation; Atlanta, Ga.’s Alison O’Neil, Founder of Beauty Becomes You Foundation; Melaney Smith, Athens, Ga., Founder of Books for Keeps; and Valley Village Calif., Catherine Curry-Williams, Founder of Shane’s Inspiration.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT
Karlie Kloss said “This is my first year here and I have to admit I’m trying to fight back tears right now. I’ve never been more proud to be a L’Oreal woman.”
“Being surrounded by all of you here and watching your stories and hearing all of these emotional words is so moving but also gives us so much hope for our future,” said Eva Longoria.
Freida Pinto shared, “It is this work that these women do, that makes me want to strive harder.”
“Karen [Fondu] could have picked any number of L’Oreal models – Diane Keaton, Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez – [to present this award] but she had the good sense to decide to go with a ruggedly handsome, stylish former mayor instead,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. He continued, “I’ve always had the good fortune to be surrounded by accomplished, inspiring women, and this crowd knows that attracting and retaining more women makes you a better organization no matter what line of work you are in.”
Hoda Kotb said, “The world isn’t changed by big huge events, it’s changed by baby steps. And all these women who we’re meeting today, you watch how they are changing the world…in baby steps. They make us all realize we have power.”
L’Oreal Paris President Karen T. Fondu said, “The more women we can recognize that are making a difference in their communities whether they touch one life or many is going to make the world a better place in the long run and we’re very proud and humbled by the opportunity to put a spotlight on these extraordinary women.”
SOURCE L’Oreal Paris