Women Mean Business Luncheon Raises a Record Breaking $208,000


Wednesday, April 17, more than 300 guests filled the Grand Ballroom of The Pierre Hotel for the Coalition’s Women Mean Business Luncheon, a benefit for our First Step Job Training Program. Buoyed by an exciting keynote address from Gloria Feldt and the enthusiastic participation of corporate honoree Deutsch, this year’s event was our most successful ever!

The event was emceed by Coalition board member Laurence Boschetto, CEO of Draftfcb, who welcomed guests with a moving account of his company’s long commitment to providing internships and jobs to First Steppers, and his own deeply felt convictions about the importance of empowering women in the workplace.

Mary Brosnahan, the Coalition’s President & CEO, then introduced a short video telling the inspiring story of Shakira Kennedy, a young mother and recent graduate of the program whose life was transformed by First Step and her success in finding a rewarding full time job at Touro College of Pharmacy.


Following Shakira’s video, Graduate Speaker Jessie Garcia took the stage and described her heart-wrenching journey from an abusive upbringing, being thrown into the foster care system and separated from her siblings, escaping another abusive relationship with two children and nowhere to go but a shelter, and finally coming to First Step. Jessie is now one of the Coalition’s most valued full-time employees, working with formerly homeless families in the lauded Rental Assistance Program. She said that thanks to First Step, “I speak a little louder, I stand a little taller, and when I cry, it’s out of happiness.”

The highlight of the event was a rousing speech by keynote speaker Gloria Feldt. She encouraged women to embrace power to make change in their lives and the world around them. She acknowledged that while it may not be an easy path, and there are many mistakes along the way, “there’s always another chance to take the first step!”


This year’s Corporate Partnership Award was given to Deutsch by First Step graduate and Deutsch employee Marlene Romero. As an internship provider and Corporate Day host, Deutsch clearly understands the many obstacles women in our program face. Deutsch has shown tremendous commitment to offering a supportive environment for women to learn new skills and adjust to the workplace. We are very grateful for their dedication to the women of First Step!

At the end of the event guests were given gift bags filled with treats from our generous and amazing sponsors: Smashbox, Bumble and bumble, Alecia Bakery, Crunch Gym, Kimani Press, Lane Office and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC. It was our most successful luncheon to date in so many ways, and we extend our most heartfelt thanks to all of the guests and sponsors who made this inspiring event possible!

Click here for more photos from the event.