WU Speaker Series and Events

Women United of United Way of Lake County Speaker Series & Special Events

The speaker series Women United (WU) hosts are great affairs with speakers to match. Designed to educate and enlighten the residents of our community on an array of philanthropic, community and personal development topics, WU prides itself on the top-notch speakers it enlists. Below is a list of past speaker series along with anything currently planned (if nothing is currently listed - please check back).Our speaker series are open to guests and WU members. We hope to see you soon! 

WU also prides itself on hosting popular, top-notch fundraising events that you don't want to miss! 


Past Women United Speaker Series & Special Events:

May 2021 - Women United Unite Raises $1,218 for United Way of Lake County

During the month of May, Women United joinded together to raise donations for United Way of Lake County's "Community Hero Hijinx" Fundraiser. Led by WU Chair Deborah Hardy of Lakeland Community College, the group formed two Hero Squads and coordinated several activities to raise funds for the organization. The "Inspiring Change" hero squad WU members included Yvonne Delgado Thomas, Lori Caszatt, Patty Perry, Kristina Willey, and Ellen Forbus. The "Leading the Charge" Hero Squad included Deborah Hardy, Michele Johnson, Bev Lee, and Emily Skunda. Below is a summary of the fun activities these WU team members coordinated to raise funds on behalf of United Way of Lake County.

  • May 2021 - "Walk this Way to Inspire Change" - An Individual & Group Walking Challenge - Fitness Basket Raffled off to One Lucky Participants!
  • May 16, 2021 - Virtual Master Container Gardening Workshop led by Shelley Baeslack, Ohio State University/Lake County Master Gardener!
  • May 25, 2021 - Vinyasa Flow Yoga by the Water at Mentor Harbor Yachting Club with Melissa Klimo-Major from Society Verde
  • Donation of a "Cozy Day at Home" Gift Basket to United Way of Lake County's "Community Hero Raffle!"

Below are a few pictures of some of the fun.

Winterfest Wonderland Virtual Raffle & Fun Virtual Experience Package

In leiu of Women United's Annual Women's Winterfest & Holiday Food Tasting Fundraiser, two back-to-back Virtual Raffles were held along with the sale of a package of 5 Fun Virtual Experiences. The events raised over $36,000 to benefit Lake County women and girls in need. 

Virtual Raffles 

Raffle #1 of 2:  Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - Monday, November 23, 2020
Featured 19 Amazing Prizes plus a 50/50 Raffle
Winners Announced Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Raffle #2 of 2:  Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - Thursday, December 3, 2020
Featured 19 All New Amazing Prizes plus another 50/50 Raffle
Winners Announced Friday, December 24, 2020

Click here for a list of winners from both raffles


5 Fun Virtual Experiences:

All packages were available for purchase during the month of December 2020 and were presented on a weekly basis starting Thursday, January 7, 2020 and ending Thursday, February 4, 2020.

Participants Enjoyed the following fun virtual experiences:

  • Yoga for EVERYbody with Lisa Fleming, 300 R.Y.T, Reiki Master 
  • Glass Painting with local artist Yvonne Delgado Thomas of The Fine Arts Association
  • "Wines Around the World" Wine Tasting with wine expert Brian Fife, Wine Director at World of Wines & Liquor in Mentor
  • Cook-A-Long with well known local Chef Natalie Blake, Executive Chef of Metropolitan at the 9, Autograph Collection, and former Hell's Kitchen contestant with Gordon Ramsay
  • An Evening of Acoustic Music from Company Housing Band featuring guitarist Michael Pietrangelo and vocalist Abby Ohlsen

October 22, 2020
Virtual Speaker Series Panel Discussion:  Part II - Social Justice and Racial Equity 

Moderator:  Yvonne Delgado Thomas

Featured Panelists:

  • Ana Dumett, Youth Services Coordinator, Catholic Charities
  • Elizabeth Grove, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Lubrizol Corporation
  • Dr. Deborah L. Hardy, EDd Associate Provost for Teaching and Learning, Dean of Health Technologies and Dean of Faculty at Lakeland Community College

Part II of our two-part Virtual Speaker Series Panel Discussion on Social Justice and Racial Equity followed Part I,  held September 24, 2020. More information on this can be found below. For this discussion, an all new panel of three women continued the discussion on a broader level, sharing both personal experiences and workplace experiences along with how they have effected change in their workplaces and lives. 

September 24, 2020
Virtual Speaker Series Panel Discussion:  Part I - Social Justice and Racial Equity 

Moderator:  Kathleen Buse, Ph.D., President, Advancing Women in the Workplace

Featured Panelists:

  • Marsita Ferguson, Founding Member, Black Lives Matter Lake County 
  • Mary Goss-Hill, Program Coordinator, Women’s Center, Lakeland Community College 
  • Amanda Petrak, Corporate Responsibility Officer, KeyBank 

Panelists discussed their own experiences regarding race and how it has impacted their lives. Each shared their unique journies of learning, growing, and committing to social justice and racial equity, and shared stories of how they have effected change in their lives, at work, at home, and within their communities. This fantastic group of ladies also offered suggestions on how individual women and community organizations can work together to provide a more just and equal society.

8th Annual Women's Winterfest & Holiday Food Tasting Fundraiser 
December 5, 2019   |   5:30 pm - 8:30 pm  |  American Croatian Lodge

Women United Winterfest Tri-Chairs (from left) Patty Perry of ProMark Enterprises, 
Jen Yorko of the Lake County Captains, and Renee Ochaya of the Mentor Senior Center.

Our 8th Annual Women's Winterfest & Holiday Food Tasting Fundraiser sold out in just 3 weeks and raised a record $41,600! A total of 400 guests attended the event and enjoyed a festive evening of great food and fun! Guests enjoyed food from 20 fabulous local restaurants, a wine pull featuring over 300 bottles of wine, 96 basket raffle prizes, an "On the Fly" raffle where two lucky winners each took home $500 in Frontier Airlines gift certificates, a 50/50 raffle, a musical performance by Mentor High School's Top 25, and more!

Click Here to See Images from the Event!

July 25, 2019 Speaker Series Breakfast at the American-Croatian Lodge
Topic: Trailblzaing Women in Business
Featured Guest Speakers: Virginia Marti Veith, founder of the Virginia Marti College of Art and Design in Lakewood and Anna Dey, franchise owner of Anytime Fitness Concord and Clean Eatz Mentor
Moderator: UW Chair Michele Johnson of Lighthouse Advisers

Anna Dey (left), Virginia Marti Veith (center), Michele Johnson (right)

The fascinating Virginia Marti Veith, founder of the Virginia Marti College of Art & Design and the energetic Anna Dey, owner of Anytime Fitness in Concord and Clean Eatz in Mentor spoke at WU's July Speaker Series Breakfast, which was moderated by WU chair Michele Johnson of Lighthouse Advisors. These  trailblazing women entrepreneurs captivated guests with stories of the challenges and triumphs they experienced while turning a passion into a business.

Virginia Marti Veith began studying fashion in New York City before moving to Paris to study haute couture. She returned to the states several years later where she opened a bridal salon. As a new business owner Virginia struggled to find expert staff so she began training students. This led to her establishment of the well-known Virginia Marti College of Art and Design, which she opened in Lakewood in 1966.  Virginia, a mother of eight, ran the college for decades until selling it in 2015 to focus on her missionary work. In May of 2018, the college became North Coast College, where Virginia currently serves as President Emeritus.

Local entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast Anna Dey worked in outside sales for a few years after college but wanted to pursue a career in the industry that fueled her - fitness and health. Ten years of competing in bodybuilding, power lifting and triathlons led her to open Anytime Fitness Concord in 2012. Six years later, her love of health and fitness led her to open Clean Eatz, a healthy lifestyle and meal planning franchise.

7th Annual Women's Winterfest & Holiday Food Tasting Fundraiser

Thursday, November 29, 2018  |  5:30 pm - 8:30 pm  |  American-Croatian Lodge


Click on the below video from Winterfest 2018 to watch!










Click Below to View Photos from the event:




October 11, 2018
Speaker Series Breakfast at the American-Croatian Lodge
Topic: Why Women in Politics Matter

Guests enjoyed a lively discussion on why women in politics matter. With more and more women running for public office in 2018 than ever before, the discussion centered around the following quesions, which were answered by the above panelists:
  • Why do women continue to be under-represented in elected office?
  • Why is the glass ceiling in politics so difficult for women to shatter?
  • What prevents women from running for political office? 
  • Does the voice of women matter in politics? If so, how and when?
  • What steps can be taken to achieve gender parity in politics?



Thursday, July 26, 2018  |  7:30 am - 9 am
Speaker Series Breakfast at the American-Croatian Lodge
Topic: Appropriate Workplace Behavior in the Age of #MeToo


A robust discussion on appropriate workplace behavior in the age of the #MeToo movement was the highlight of this Speaker Series Breakfast. Panelists provided their take on whether or not compliments are still allowed in the workplace, if any touching in the workplace is appropriate any longer, and if it's OK to hug coworkers. These questions and more, including the subtle forms of workplace harassment and discrimination that exist, were all addressed and discussed.

Thursday, April 26, 2018  |  7:30 am - 9 am
Breakfast Speaker Series at the American-Croatian Lodge 
Topic: Four Trailblazing Women in Lake County Law Enforcement

Panelists included four trailblazing women in Lake County law enforcement who shared how and why they chose law enforcement, how they overcame unique challenges and how women today can make law enforcement a career. Panelists included:

  • Special Agent Brenda Butler
  • Juvenile Court Assistant Psychologist Judy Jackson  (retired)
  • Probation Officer Beth Ranally (retired)
  • Forensic Scientist Karen Zavarella


6th Annual Women's Winterfest & Holiday Food Tasting Fundraiser
Thursday, December 7, 2017  |  5:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Below are two videos from Winterfest 2017:



Solstice Garden Party Fundraiser
Thursday, June 22  |  5:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Our Women's Leadership Council hosted their first Solstice Garden Party Fundraiser on Thursday, June 22, 2017 from 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm. A total of 160 guests enjoyed an enchanting evening of lovely garden delights on the beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens of three private residences in the exclusive Sanctuary and Regency Woods developments of Kirtland. A variety of live music,  hors d'oeuvres, refreshments and a raffle were all available along with Lolly the Trolley, who was on hand to ferry guests from home to home. Nearly $9,000 was raised to benefit women and girls in Lake County.

Click here to enjoy a lovely photo gallery of the event!

Read about it here in The News-Herald and here in The Kirtland-Chronicle.



Thursday, April 6, 2017  |  7:30 am - 9 am
Speaker Series Breakfast at Mooreland Mansion

Keynote Speaker:  Teresa Stafford, Senior Director of Victim Services and Outreach at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

Teresa provided a fascinating, informative and uniquely uplifting look at "The Evolution of the Rape Crisis Movement." 

Click here to see a photo gallery of images from the event!


February 23, 2017
Speaker Series Breakfast at Pine Ridge Country Club


Keynote Speaker: Liz Ferro, author and Founder & CEO of Girls With Sole
Liz Ferro has been on the NBC Today Show, in Self, Runner's World and Family Circle magazines and is the author of the book, Finish Line Feeling. Liz has crossed many finish lines in life, including the 26.2 Marathon she's completed in all 50 states. Liz is uniquely uplifting and shared her emotional journey from foster child and sexual abuse survivor to athlete, mother, author and speaker, to founder of the non-profit Girls With Sole (GWS). Liz and GWS works to empower the minds, bodies & souls of girls who are at risk or have experienced abuse of any kind, and she shared the principles that guide her and her agency, while reminding us to believe in ourselves and our dreams.

Read about it here in the Lake County Tribune (Gazette Newspapers)!

Click here to see a photo gallery of the event!


October 6, 2016
Speaker Series Dinner at Pine Ridge Country Club

Keynote Speaker: Judge Jennifer Brunner of the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals, and Ohio's First Female Secretary of State, serving from 2007-2011
Judge Jennifer Brunner shared her experiences as a veteran of Ohio presidential elections during one of the country's most unusual election seasons. Having served as Ohio's first woman Secretairy of State, administering the 2008 presidential election; as a candidate at the state, federal and county levels; as an elections attorney in private practice; and as both a trial and appellate court judge, she has seen presidential elections from a multitude of perspectives. Judge Brunner spoke of her experiences in both her public and private life---from death threats and 24-hour guards during the 2008 election to receiving the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her work. Judge Brunner is also author of the book, Cupcakes and Courage, a memoir about women, politics and Ohio that can be found here on Amazon:  http://amzn.to/2dXKp0F

Click here to see images from the evening!

July 27, 2016
Speaker Series Breakfast at Mooreland Mansion


Keynote Speaker: Vitamix President & CEO Jodi Berg
Jodi Berg is fourth-generation President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vita-Mix Corporation (Vitamix), a family-owned, manufacturer of high-performance blenders for the consumer and food service commercial markets headquartered in Olmsted Township, OH. She joined Vitamix in 1997 with the directive to lead the company’s overseas expansion. At the time, Vitamix had a presence in a few countries. Under her leadership, Vitamix products are now sold in more than 140 countries around the world, and the company is the established world leader in high-performance blending. Vitamix revenue has also grown by more than 300%  during her tenure, and the number of employees and sales representatives has increased from 400 (domestic) to more than 1,300 (domestic and international). Ms. Berg received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (concentration in Hospitality Management) from Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, OH) and a Master of Business Administration (concentration in Service Management and Service Marketing) from Washington State University (Pullman, WA). Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management (Cleveland, OH). Ms. Berg is dedicated to helping people spread their wings and fly and help people think about food differently. Ms. Berg defines herself as “a wife and mother of two daughters. I am on a mission to make the world a better place and have been blessed with multiple roles to do so. After a near-death experience, through the grace of God, I see every day as a gift that I choose to give back to those around me.”

Click here to see a photo gallery of images from the morning!


June 2, 2016
Happy Hour Social:  "5-Minutes to Fabulous" at SOL in Downtown Willoughby 

Featuring Pat Gibson, Certified Image Consultant and owner of The Artistry of You, with an Interactive Presentation 

Our Women's Leadership Council guests enjoyed a fun evening of networking and socializing over cocktails and appetizers at SOL in downtown Willoughby.  The social was overflowing with women including Lake County Commissioner Judy Moran, Lake County Recorder Ann Radcliffe and Lake County Treasurer Lorraine Fende, who all turned out to mingle with other women and WLC volunteers who are making a difference. A wonderful "5-Minutes to Fabulous" interactive presentation by Image Consultant Pat D Gibsonowner of The Artistry of You, was enjoyed by all!

Click here to see a photo gallery of images from the evening!

April 14, 2016
Speaker Series Breakfast at Moreland Mansion
Featuring a Panel Discussion of 5 Women in Lake County Political Offices

A sold out crowd attended the Breakfast & Panel discussion featuring Women in Lake County Political Offices. Panelists included Judge Colleen A. Falkowski of the Domestic Relations Court. Commissioner Judy Moran. Recorder Ann M. Radcliffe, Board of Elections Director Janet F. Clair; and Painesville City Council Vice President Lori DiNallo. The panelists were engaging, frank, honest and even funny as they engaged the audience about their lives in politics! 

Read all about it in this article published by The News-Herald  |   Click here for a copy of the event flyer.