Women's Leadership Initiative


Women's Leadership Committee                    Cathy Coyle                                     Barbara Spiegel


Barbarra Spiegel was honored as the 2015 Woman of the Year at the 2015 Gala. Ms. Spiegel was the Executive Director of the Susan B. Anthony Project for 20 years. A life-long advocate for women and children, she was dedicated to promoting safety, healing, and growth for all survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Under her guidance, the organization raised $2,780,000 in 2006 to purchase, remodel, and relocate their Counseling and Advocacy Center to 179 Water St.  Barbara built a firm foundation for the Susan B. Anthony Project to secure their continued growth and success. She retired in June, 2015. Thanks in part to her commitment stories of tragedy became stories of triumph, inspiration, and hope!

Maria Seymour Brooker Memorial, Inc. was selected as the recipient of Best Supporting Organization in the Role of Empowering Women for its service to the Litchfield Country community for over 90 years...providing important health and education programs to children and families.  Their mission "to prepare children for life-long success through education, health services, and family support and programs of excellence" ensures families the opportunities needed to lead healthier and happier lives. Their Early Learning and Child Care Center provides licensed child care as well as a Nursery School program for 3 and 4 year olds. Educated, qualified teachers and assistants provide a safe, nurturing, developmental program that welcomes families of all income levels.

The Children's Dental Center at Brooker Memorial offers dental services to children who live in Litchfield County who are insured through the state Title 19 HUSKY plan, have private dental insurance, or those without insurance.  For more information about their program, visit www.brookermemorial.org.

The gala, which was held on May 8 at the Torrington Country Club, included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner served with wine, an awards ceremony, and dancing with music.

The Women’s Leadership Initiative, whose mission it is to mobilize the power of women to advance the Common Good in our communities, was founded in August 2012 with a focus on Women, Young Women (Ages 13 to 18), and Families.  Its purpose is to educate, empower, and equip women to create positive changes in our Northwest Connecticut communities and to inspire others.   

Funds raised from the Gala support the Girls Summit program for eighth grade girls, which is designed to teach skills for successfully navigating the teenage years, build confidence and self-esteem, and nurture the necessary skills to become successful future leaders.  The day-long event includes a keynote speaker and programming about relationships and nutrition.

Along with co-chairs Cailin Cerruto and Kara Paganini-Muth, members of this dynamic committee include: Teresa Allen, Katherine Briggs, Emily Marchand-Cole, Katlyn Marchand, Cathy Coyle, Deirdre Houlihan DiCara, Gail Olsen, Candy Perez, Colleen Sullivan, and from the United Way, Executive Director Owen Quinn and Administrative Assistant Cheryl Corey.

For more information about the Women’s Initiative, please call the United Way office at (860) 489-4131 or email pat@northwestunitedway.org.