The Women’s Voices luncheon is big. It attracts more Jewish women in one room than any other event in Orange County – 672 of them last year, in fact.
But don’t just take our word for it. The Orange County Business Journal cited the Women’s Voices lunch as the top luncheon of the year for its quality and reach.
The capstone event of Women’s Philanthropy, the women’s fundraising and service arm of Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS), Women’s Voices draws women of all ages, persuasions and situations from all over Orange County to an annual luncheon with a top-tier speaker and a program that inspires people to give of themselves. As the organization’s website explains, “Inspired by the Jewish traditions of tzedakah and tikkun olam (social justice and repairing the world), Women’s Philanthropy is dedicated to strengthening the Jewish people here at home, in Israel and around the world.”
This year’s luncheon will be no exception. Slated for Monday, March 17, at 10 a.m. at the Hilton Hotel, 3050 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, Women’s Voices will feature Emmy Award-winning journalist Campbell Brown as the keynote speaker and honor Barbara Shapiro as the Anne Entin Woman of the Year.
“JFFS is a great organization to be a part of and involved in,” said Ann Miller, former president of Women’s Philanthropy and current co-chair (along with Susan Tuchler) of the Women’s Voices event. “It is the big picture in this community, enabling bridging and connections.”
Of Women’s Philanthropy, Miller said, “There is a great need and good people out there, and we work as a team. The women are bright, articulate, compassionate, educated and community minded. If there is a need, we step up. We use our minds and give from our hearts.”
Barbara Shapiro, the Anne Entin 2014 Woman of the Year, got increasingly involved with Women’s Philanthropy after moving from Anaheim Hills to Newport Coast and attending her first Women’s Voices luncheon. “I love what we are, what we do and what we stand for,” she said.
Shapiro has been a leader on the Women’s Philanthropy board since 2007. Harkening back to lessons taught by her grandmother, it has always been her personal mission to better the lives of those around her, and her involvement in Women’s Philanthropy has helped her achieve her goals. “There’s always a need to give money, but when you’re out there interacting with people and seeing the impact of what you do, it’s even more rewarding,” she said. “The hands-on mitzvahs like helping children learn to read or feeding people at a soup kitchen are the most meaningful ones.”
As a co-chair for Dor v’Dor, Shapiro brought together mothers and daughters in the community to participate in multiple volunteer events. In 2010 she chaired Mitzvah Mavens, executing and participating in numerous local community events. She was elected as co-vice president in 2011. Currently, she is in charge of Reading Partners, which sends volunteers into kindergarten through third grade classrooms in Orange County public schools that have been designated as socioeconomically and academically disadvantaged to assist in literacy and reading comprehension.
In addition, Shapiro was chosen to be part of the first cohort of SkillSetNPO®, a leadership program sponsored by Jewish Federation & Family Services where strategies were discussed on the importance of building and sustaining a strong Jewish community. Her passion for the Jewish community extends beyond Women’s Philanthropy. She has been involved with Israel Expo, Women’s Health Forum, Heritage Pointe and Friendship Circle.
Shapiro and her husband, Mitch, have been married since 1987. They have three daughters – Erica, Heather and Tiffany – and a dog, Oreo. The family belongs to Chabad of Newport Beach.
“The Torah says that even the poorest person is supposed to give,” Shapiro said. “I’m fortunate to have the chance to volunteer to help people in the community. It’s a gift, and my family is very supportive.”
Ann Miller was “fortunate enough to have met Barbara when she lived in Anaheim Hills.” She added, “Barbara is warm-hearted, compassionate, energetic, capable, enthusiastic and resourceful. She is a team player, community builder and partner. She cares, she gives back and she always raises her hand to say ‘yes.’”
According to Miller, Shapiro is “a good connector in this community, very much a relationship builder, who always has a smile and a twinkle in her eyes.”
This year’s Women’s Voices speaker also has a great smile, as well as a great mind, a great sense of humor and lots of great stories to tell, said the event organizers. And, oh yes, she is Jewish.
Emmy award-winning journalist Campbell Brown is a veteran broadcaster recognized for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the last three Presidential elections and the White House, as well as her many trips to Iraq during the height of the war. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast and Slate.
From the podium, Brown shares her heartwarming and often hilarious story of finding love in Iraq, converting to Judaism and forever trying to win over her disapproving mother-in-law. Her experiences in news and journalism provide the backdrop, but her focus is on her attempts to raise two children in a traditional Jewish family while trying to “have it all” professionally.
She also shares her struggle to understand her mother-in-law and the bond the two developed when Brown discovered the secrets of a childhood spent on the run from the Nazis. Her inspirational story will make lunch attendees laugh and cry.
Brown is a passionate advocate for school choice and education reform. She is the co-founder of the Parents’ Transparency Project and serves on the boards of Success Academies, a New York City charter school network, Turnaround and the Jewish Community Project in Lower Manhattan.
At CNN, her prime-time program, Campbell Brown, was the only non-partisan cable news show to air at 8 p.m. Brown also spent 11 years at NBC News where she served as White House correspondent and primary substitute anchor for Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News. She also hosted the weekend edition of the Today Show. Brown covered every major news event for the network, reporting from Rome on the death of Pope John Paul II, from Gaza and the West Bank on violence in the Middle East, and, closer to home, on the 2000 election recount, the aftermath of 9/11 and the political and national security debates that followed.
Brown met her husband, Dan Senor, in Baghdad shortly after the start of the Iraqi War. He was working as the Bush administration’s chief spokesman in Baghdad, as well as senior advisor to Presidential Envoy L. Paul Bremer, and she was serving as co-anchor of NBC’s Today Weekend Edition and primary correspondent for NBC Nightly News. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons. If Senor’s name sounds familiar, it should. He is co-author of the book, Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle (2009).
This year’s Women’s Voices luncheon will be big and full of powerful women. There’s a seat waiting for anyone who wants to roll up her sleeves and make the world a better place.