At the annual dinner of the Financial Women's Association held at the Grand Hyatt in New York last week, two high achieving women were honored with the titles of private and public sector women of the year.
Evelyn Lauder, Senior VP of the Estée Lauder Companies and Founder and Chairman of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was awarded the public/non profit sector award for her work in raising funds for breast cancer research — to date the BCRF has raised over $200 million to support international research.
The co-developer of the pink ribbon, a now ubiquitous symbol for breast health, Lauder plays a pivotal role at the Estée Lauder Companies, which she joined after her marriage to Leonard Lauder, over 47 years ago.
Christine Poon, Vice Chairman of Johnson & Johnson received the private sector award. She talked to an 800 strong, primarily female, audience about her beginnings in the health industry – how she initially tried to be a physician but gave up, deciding that there were other equally effective avenues to being a part of the industry. In addition to working at Johnson & Johnson, her career has taken her through Bristol-Myers and also landed her a spot on the "Most Powerful Women" lists in Forbes and Fortune.
The annual dinner, at which the awards were issued, raised close to $300,000 — the proceeds from which go the Financial Women's Association's college scholarship and mentorship program.
Established in 1956, the FWA is not yet the household name it could be, considering the programs it offers and the sponsorship it attracts: HSBC recently granted the organization over $900,000, while other $50,000 + sponsors include Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Morgan Lewis, UBS, Proskauer Rose and Thomson Reuters.
The FWA offers what appears to be a strong mentorship program for girls at Murry Bergtraum High School and another at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College. During the course of the evening, two young mentees of the institutions spoke about their experiences being mentored, which included everything from the camaraderie built from a coffee date or a makeover session with a mentor, to learning about the various choices available when it comes to college.
The organization also offers financial literacy and management programs, providing high school students and young adults with practical financial knowledge, and also partnering with Bank of America and the United Way of New York City to run a financial literacy seminar for people with minimal financial education. It has a microfinance initiative and a scholarship program to aid young women attending undergraduate and graduate business schools in New York City.
Although New York based, the FWA has members from across the nation, as well as partnerships with international professional women's organizations around the world, offering its members an extensive global network of women in business.