Women United, an engagement group of United Way of Central Carolinas, hosted its community event last evening at the Duke Energy Center uptown. More than 160 female professionals, community volunteers and business leaders gathered to hear keynote speaker Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown and a supporting panel talk about how women can lead change. Garmon-Brown shared how her passion for caring for others led her to be a part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force.


“Charlotte is really comprised of two cities – the haves and the have nots.” She shared that segregation inhibits mobility and can directly affect early care and education, family and child stability and college and career readiness. The solution she said laid within the room – each person had the power to enhance mobility through social capital and exercise their power through authenticity.


“Women United could not be a more appropriate name, as now is the time to be United,” said Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown. “Find your place to make a difference and create change.”


Attendees also heard about authentic leaderhsip from a panel of successful business women: Paula Guilfoyle, founder & CEO, Claim Leadership; Gail Sharps Myers, SVP, General Counsel & Secretary, Snyder’s-Lance; and Catherine Stempien, SVP, Corporate Development, Duke Energy; Lou Solomon, founder of Interact, was the moderator.


“Being authentic is when you are open, honest and true to yourself,” said Paula Guilfoyle. “Authenticity allows you to create passion and have true love in your life.”


Three ways to practice authentic leadership:

  1. Pick your passion and understand how you can help through reading The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force Report. 
  2.  Take action. Hands On Charlotte, a program of United Way of Central Carolinas, provides a wide range of one-time or monthly volunteer service projects based on your passion and busy schedule.
  3. Join Women United. As Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown said, “Now is the time to be United.”