President's Message

October 22, 2017

Members, Friends, and anyone new to BPW:

Before we look forward, HUGE KUDOS to Co-Chairs Sheila Barry-Oliver and Jerri Evans, as well as their committee for putting on a seemingly flawless Working Women’s Forum this year. I’m sorry if you were unable to attend-I walked away inspired and a bit awestruck at the accomplishments of our fine panelists.

Women of Influence, this year’s theme, was demonstrated in action as our own Local Organization (LO) Member and State President of BPW Florida, Alizza Punzalan-Randle filled in for a panelist with less than two-hour’s notice. Leading by example, stepping up when necessary, speaking out even if not popular, working hard, asking for help when needed, and the can-do attitude of each of our panelists shows why these incredible women have the influence they do.

A huge thank you to Dr. Tonjua Williams, Molly Moorhead, and Alizza for sharing their time and lives with us as panelists. And a special thank you to Cathy Unruh for asking thought provoking questions that truly gave us a glimpse into these women’s lives. I often felt, “she’s just like me”.

With grit, honesty, personal stories, and even admissions of the flaws that keep them always reaching higher for themselves, their partners, families, and communities, I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening learning from others. Heartfelt thanks to all who participated, I hope you walked away as uplifted as I did!

With Halloween coming up next week, I’m beginning to think about the holidays already. For some, Halloween represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one. For others, the beginning of a new year starts in January, or October, or at some other time. What we all have in common is that we tend to soften our hearts, have more compassion for those less fortunate than us, and think about what to give to our friends and loved ones about this time of year.

As I sat in my car at a light on the way home from work the other day, it occurred to me that I have way too much stuff. That most anyone I’d give a gift to does as well, or prefers a life filled with experiences instead. And yet we’re compelled to keep on giving. Why not put all that money towards a purpose instead of stuff, I thought?

Kind Mouse, CASA, and the YWCA of Tampa Bay all have strong ties to BPW, align with our mission, and will use all the help you’ll give, even a gift in another’s name. Our Local Organization gives scholarships at the local level, while the BPW Foundation gives statewide for housing. Whether it’s cash to fund scholarships or items to re-gift, feed families, or provide a special holiday for children who’d otherwise not have one, I hope you’ll consider a gift that really matters and hopefully spreads comfort and joy to all without landing in pile of stuff. Get creative with your time or special talent. Find a way to make the holidays something special for others and voila! you’ll benefit, too.

Now, I’ve GOT to find a costume for next week. Have a happy and safe Halloween and Good Samhain to you witches out there! I’ve got brew on the stove to tend to…Later, Liz

Liz Illgen


Liz Illgen
President, BPW/St. Petersburg-Pinellas