Great Dames to honor three icons this month


Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, Delaware State University Provost Dr. Tony Allen; and successful serial entrepreneur Jen Groover, will introduce the threewomen to receive the first Great Dames Icon Awards at its 10th Anniversary celebration on Wednesday, April 24, at Hockessin Memorial Hall in Hockessin.

The luminaries have special connections to the honorees. Purzycki welcomes longtime friend and colleague Wilmington University President Dr. LaVerne Harmon.

Allen introduces Bebe Coker, since both are civic leaders and educators, and champions of education equality.

Groover, a media star who created the “Butler Bag,” brings Philadelphia-based entrepreneur Anna Welsh to the stage. At age 13, Welsh transformed her passion for sewing into the sustainable handmade bag company, LittleBags.BigImpact.

All proceeds from the event will go toward a newly-formed Great Dames Fund, which provides scholarships and seed grants to women and girls. One of the first gifts from the fund will be scholarships awarded to three girls in the names of the three women icons.

The event is sold out. Click here to get on the waiting list.

The second part of the evening will be music performed by multi-platinum recording artist Mark Farner, who is best known as the former lead singer, main songwriter and guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad.

Club Phred, a popular local band, will back him up. “I’ve been blessed to have had many great dames in my life,” said Farner, who has been married to his wife, Lesia, for more than 40 years. “I could not be happier to share our songs with a group as inspirational as Great Dames.” (Mark Farner’s appearance is made possible by Frederick J. Dawson, of Bassett, Dawson & Foy, Inc.)

Great Dames was started 10 years ago by former DuPont executive Sharon Kelly Hake, as a way of creating authentic connections between women. Its focus has been to unite “kindred spirits with purpose” across cultures and ages through programs promoting conversation, innovation and inspiration.

To date, more than 8,500 women have made connections attending Great Dames programs; 750 women have invigorated their lives and careers through mentorship and peer-to-peer advising; 500 women entrepreneurs have been supported with funding and expert advice; and 225 nonprofits have received grants or volunteer assistance. Great Dames plans to expand chapters to other cities and work with strategic partners to help provide an environment of safety, support and growth for women of all ages and backgrounds.

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