Broward Changemakers Reflect on the Meaning of Women’s History Month

This Year’s Theme Is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion”

The month of March is National Women’s History Month — a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political contributions of women across history and within our current society. The theme for Women’s History Month in 2024 is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion”— a central part of our United Way’s mission.

Our Women United is comprised of more than 1,000 members improving lives through advocacy, volunteerism, professional development and networking connections. We motivate and empower each other by leveraging our passions, ideas, expertise and resources to make our community a better, healthier place to live. We are leading the charge and inspiring the change.

We recently talked with three long-term members of our Women United who exemplify the values of this initiative and who act as tireless advocates for United Way’s mission. Each spoke with us about the meaning of Women’s History Month and the impact our collective power is making to Broward County.

LaurieAnne Minoff
Heidi Alzate Kaufman
Stella Tokar

Q: How does our Women United embody this year’s focus on equity, diversity and inclusion?
LaurieAnne Minoff: The values promoted during this year’s Women’s History Month align perfectly with the overall mission of Women United. We encourage dialogue, collaboration and support for all women’s issues and initiatives, and without question, an inclusive, supportive community, specifically regarding gender equality, improves everyone’s life.

Heidi Alzate Kaufman: Women’s History Month is one way to highlight the amazing work all women bring to their communities — from stay-at-home moms to c-suite executives. Women United is for everyone — from every stage of life, every educational or professional background, every socio-economic experience. Our rich diversity of talents, skills and insights is what gives us strength.

Stella Tokar: For most of history, the contributions of women have gone went unacknowledged. Women’s History Month dispels myths, celebrates how women have made improvements to society, and inspires motivation for new generations. In my time with Women United since 2012, Women United has been unequivocally committed to supporting equity, social justice and acceptance of all women, races, backgrounds, generations, religious persuasions and economic status. I am very proud of who we are and the values we represent.

Q: What impact has Women United made to Broward County?
LaurieAnne Minoff: Through fundraising efforts and community partnerships, Women United has raised significant funds to support local initiatives that benefit women and families in Broward County. Through donations and volunteer work, we are addressing critical needs and gaps in services as well as creating tangible social change.

Heidi Alzate Kaufman: Women United has been the pioneer of many community programs within the past decade, such as ReadingPals, which serves thousands of children from kindergarten to fifth grade. Women United Broward Days originated from our advocacy efforts starting in 2017, bringing hundreds of women to Tallahassee to advocate for ALICE households and pushing state bills to unlock hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the health and well-being of our community.

Stella Tokar: I have been involved in a public policy at all levels for 43 years, and there is nothing like experiencing the power of being a voice for others, raising awareness and being a part of implementing news laws and legislation that change and save lives. It also has been fulfilling to empower the personal and professional development of other women in our community.

Q: What are some outstanding experiences you have had as a member of Women United?
LaurieAnne Minoff: By far, the connections, friendships, conversations and positive, impactful work by like-minded individuals are the outstanding rewards. Joining Women United has provided me with an even greater sense of purpose and belonging.

Heidi Alzate Kaufman: The friendships and bonds made through Women United are the most important experiences I have had. Making life-long friends is fuel for the soul. Our goals are to do the right thing for our neighbors in need and leave this planet a better place.

Stella Tokar: One thing I love to do is to dress as the Cat in the Hat every year for our Read Across America. It’s a magical moment because the kids respond with such excitement to see the “Cat” in person. One year, when leaving the classroom, a student jumped out of his seat, hugged me with all his might and said “Thank you, Cat in the Hat, for visiting me today. I will read every day and be a good reader.” This student became one of the best students in the class, raising his scores in every subject. These kinds of experiences keep me invested in Women United.

Q: Which women have inspired you and why?
LaurieAnne Minoff: In South Florida, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas raised awareness about the importance of preserving natural ecosystems, and Ivy Stranahan spearheaded efforts to improve education, healthcare and social services. They challenged societal norms, broke barriers and left a lasting legacy of advocacy, empowerment and positive change for future generations.

Heidi Alzate Kaufman: My mother is my biggest inspiration. She came to this country with a high school education, and she spoke no English. She managed to have a full-time job, raise my siblings and me, and helped each of us build successful careers and lives. As a full-time working mom, I have an extra level of appreciation for how my mother navigated many challenges, especially because she did it with grace and love.

Stella Tokar: Pioneering women like Amelia Earhart, Lucille Ball, Maya Angelou and Sally Ride all started with humble means, put in the work and found their purpose. However, it’s the every-day women in Women United who speak to me the most. They never may be household names, but they are committed to making a difference to people in our community.

Get active with United Way of Broward County!
United Way of Broward County salutes all women throughout Women’s History Month and every single day of the year. Like change-makers LaurieAnne, Heidi and Stella, you too can make a world of difference in creating a better, stronger Broward County.

Join Women United as we fight for the Health, Education, and Financial Prosperity of every person in Broward County!