Greater Boston’s Influential Women Business and Community Leaders Boost United Way’s Early Childhood Work in the Community

October 18, 2019

BOSTON — Nearly 500 of the region’s most influential women business and community leaders yesterday joined United Way’s 24th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast, raising over $225,000 to support United Way’s programming and partners in early education and celebrating the extraordinary power of women coming together to create positive, lasting change for children and families in need.

The event was headlined by Sarah Hurwitz, who served as head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama and senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama during the Obama Administration, and was co-chaired by Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu and Tammi Wortham,  vice president, Human Resources, for Sun Life U.S.  During a fireside chat, Hurwitz shared what it was like working for the Obama administration, her most memorable speech as a writer, and her experience finding meaning in her life and work following her job in the White House.  


A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, the Wayland resident just published her first book: Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life – in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There).  Philanthropic sponsors of the United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast were Sun Life, Deloitte, John Hancock and Bank of AmericaPenni Conner, Chief Customer Officer at Eversource and Board chair at UWMBMV, and Carolyn Murphy, Group HR Manager at Enterprise Holdings and Vice Chair of Women United were also featured at the event.

The cornerstone event of United Way’s Women United group, the first Women’s Leadership Breakfast was held in 1996.  The philanthropic focus of Women United reflects the diverse passions of its members and challenges facing the community – including early literacy, summer learning, and college and career readiness. This year through the Women’s Leadership Breakfast, Women United focused on raising awareness and funds for programs that support healthy early childhood development and school readiness.  

“Every dollar invested in quality early education for our youngest Bostonians – our future workforce and community leaders – sees a tenfold return in health care and public safety costs avoided, future earnings and family stability,” said event co-chair Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu. “This is where United Way comes in. Investing in all of our kids is fundamental to building the city and community they deserve.”

“Living in the stress of housing insecurity, financial instability, or lack of food or childcare disrupts the building of a child’s foundation,” said Tammi Worthan, event co-chair and Vice President for Human Resources at Sun Life U.S.  “These hardships can cause young children to fall way behind their peers and often snowball, creating social, emotional and educational issues that can continue to impact these children well into adulthood. United Way’s partnerships with the best early education and intervention providers throughout our community like Boys and Girls Clubs, Catholic Charities, FamilyAid Boston, Nurtury and ROCA help ensure parents get the support services, hands-on parenting and workforce training and the hope and reassurance they need to keep their families thriving.” 

The event also raised funds to support United Way’s 10th Annual Community Baby Shower next spring.  “United Way’s Community Baby Shower is no ordinary baby shower, said Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, who served as co-chair of United Way’s Women’s Leadership Breakfast. “It connects new and expectant parents experiencing economic hardship with maternal and early childhood education and resources and is a true celebration providing gifts, food and friendship.”

Last year, over 1,600 members of Women United from across the country contributed over $10 million to United Way.