On behalf of the WLN Leadership Council and everyone at JVS, we hope you and your family are enjoying a happy and healthy new year.
We want to begin by thanking all of our WLN members and donors. You have made a huge impact with your compassionate and caring support throughout the year and we extend a warm welcome to the 18 new members who joined us last year.
As we move into 2017, we will keep you posted on networking and volunteer opportunities and share our plans to further engage all of our members. Only with your continued dedication to the WLN, are we able to achieve our mission as we assist at risk girls and support women in career crisis and transition through our signature career mentoring program WoMentoring, the JVSWorks Career Training Programs, Veterans First and A Girl's Place.
We are also thrilled to welcome Mary Koenig, JVS Director of Development, to the WLN team. She will be working with us to increase sponsorship and expand our membership, so we can have an even greater impact!
Debbie Powell, Judy Flesh Rosenberg and Eileen Coskey Fracchia
An exhilarating energy filled the ballroom of the Skirball Cultural Center as more than 500 women gathered to network and connect with other women who care deeply about their community and their impact on the lives of others. The highly anticipated 4th Annual Woman to Woman Conference on November 17 encapsulated the important work of the WLN through moving client stories and dynamic speakers, with a good measure of fun and fashion thrown in to the mix.
Chaired by Barbara Leanse and Nancy Paul of the WLN Leadership Council, the event was hosted for the first time by award-winning actress, singer and dancer Nikki Crawford, who contributed her own unique insights and observations.
After a lively breakfast networking reception, our two remarkable speakers, Cedars Sinai physician Margareta Pisarska and award-winning documentary filmmaker Nancy Spielberg shared their personal journeys to success, including their setbacks and challenges along the way.
Spielberg's story struck a universal chord as she recounted the discovery of her passion to make documentary films in her fifties and overcame her self-doubt. "Making my first film, Above and Beyond," she said, "was my calling, and my cloak of fear and trepidation had to fall away."
In an insightful talk that covered the science and politics of fertility and reproductive medicine, Dr. Pisarska lauded her parents, who were both concentration camp survivors and her early mentors who gave her strength and direction in navigating her career.
Celebrity fashion critic Steven Cojocaru, also known as Cojo, turned up the dial on fun and irreverence when he hosted a fashion show, presented by long-time WLN sponsors, Bloomingdale's Century City. He was assisted by six WLN members modeling the latest trends in accessories, to the delight of the audience.
The Woman to Woman Conference has become the cornerstone event of the WLN and we thank each and every one of you for making it such a successful, enjoyable and uplifting experience.
We are thrilled to say that plans are already underway for the 5th Annual Woman to Woman Conference so please mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 14, 2017. We will be returning to the beautiful Skirball Cultural Center and look forward to another spectacular event!
And a special thank you to all of our guests who responded to the post-conference Survey Monkey. We got great feedback and will be working hard to make this year’s event even better.
As the Career Development Specialist for JVS Veterans First, Sviatlana Dzemiashonak, known as Lana, is working hard to build connections with as many women veterans as she can.
A sergeant in the Army Reserve, Lana is a trained and experienced Patient Administration and Civil Affairs Specialist and was recruited to join JVS last spring to help area veterans connect with the many professional career services and programs available through the West L.A. America’s Job Center. But she sees many more men using the center than women.
“Too often women vets are not aware of the services that are available to them or seek out the assistance they need,” said Lana. "That’s why outreach is so important.”
To raise awareness amongst women vets, Lana is busy developing relationships with other organizations, including Women Warriors and the numerous groups and programs supported by the VA.
Lana plans to establish a new group for women veterans in 2017 that will provide both space and resources for female vets to network with one another and engage in professional development activities.
Working as a long-time special education teacher in South Central Los Angeles, Claire Smith was increasingly desperate to find a way to pursue her passion of being an artist. She had ideas for an artistic product but no clear sense of what it would take to make her creative dream a reality.
Often feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, Claire, through the suggestion of a fellow teacher, found her way to the WLN Womentoring program where she was paired with Karen Silton, an accomplished artist.
As a full-time professional ceramist, fine art mosaicist and educator for the last twenty years, Karen knew Claire needed to start her new career from an inner place and not simply through setting external career goals.
"It's nice to be able to share your experience and to help encourage and support someone else. We all need a little bit more of that," said Karen.
She worked to help Claire understand that, before she could make creative products to sell, she needed to cultivate an artistic practice in her life that would support her artwork as she continued teaching.
“If you really work this process with a mentor it keeps going and taking you forward,” said Claire. “I am extremely grateful for the WoMentoring program. It’s been a life-changing process.”
WLN member Jacqueline Beth Banchik passed away peacefully in late December after a seven-month struggle with pancreatic cancer. She is survived by her husband of almost 50 years, Howard, two children, Randy and Anissa, and six grandchildren.
Jackie was an avid supporter and sponsor of the WLN Conference from the beginning, hosting a table of friends each year. Beloved in many philanthropic circles throughout Los Angeles for her gracious friendship, generosity and wonderful style, she was also a leader and dedicated supporter of the Jewish Federation, University Synagogue, Board of Governors at Cedars Sinai and the Harmony Project, among other organizations. Her devotion to supporting research for a cure for cancer included 35 years of involvement with the John Wayne Cancer Institute where she also served as President of the Auxiliary Board and established the Banchik Family Library. Born in Chicago, Jackie moved to Palos Verdes with her family in 1946. She attended the Chadwick School and graduated from USC with a degree in Occupational Therapy.
“She played each role in her life as if it were the only one and made it all seem so easy. Her heart went into everything she did and she will be deeply missed,” said her friend and WLN Executive Council member Alex Carter.