Meet Laura Clayton McDonnell and Robyn Zivic, our stellar Host Committee Co-Chairs for our 12th annual Women's Leadership Council Power of Women to Make a Difference Award Luncheon. When they’re not leading our terrific Luncheon Host Committee, Laura is a Vice President at Microsoft and Robyn is a Managing Director at CIBC World Markets. In anticipation of our Luncheon on March 7, 2018, we asked them to dish about the upcoming event and empowering their communities.
UWNYC: What inspired you to become a Women's Leadership Council Luncheon Host Committee Co-Chair?
Laura: At last year’s Luncheon, the stories of families positively touched by United Way of New York City's ReadNYC program impressed me. This year, I jumped at the chance to partner with powerful women leaders to give back to such an impactful cause!
Robyn: At the 2015 Luncheon, I heard mothers of ReadNYC students speak. I was brought to tears and inspired to do more!
UWNYC: What are you most excited for at this year’s Luncheon?
Robyn: I’m excited to be surrounded by driven, thoughtful, passionate community leaders, who want to make a difference in the lives of ReadNYC children and their families.
Laura: I look forward to broadening our impact in the community and helping more families improve their economic status via education.
UWNYC: What would you say to a ReadNYC student to help her know her strength and dignity?
Laura: With an education, you have a superpower that you can use to change the world for the better.
Robyn: All of us share one universal commonality—we are human. As such, we all have moments of vulnerability and fear, like the first day at a new school. When you have those moments and you get through them, remember that strength and your ability to help the next “new kid” on the block.
UWNYC: In one word, what do you think is the most important thing we should be fighting for to empower ReadNYC families?
Robyn: Opportunity. The families who participate in ReadNYC want their children to have more opportunity. We should fight to nurture respectful, safe, and creative communities for all ReadNYC children to learn and seize that opportunity.
Laura: Access. Removing the blockers that prevent ReadNYC families from having access to technology, to teachers, to reading materials, to a support structure, to opportunity is critical to empower our families.
UWNYC: Who fought for you on your path to becoming the woman you are today? In one sentence, what is the most valuable thing you learned from them?
Laura: My parents fought for me on my path to becoming the woman that I am today. The most valuable thing that I learned from them was the courage to make my dreams a reality because “believing is seeing.”
Robyn: Family. My personal and professional families taught me the value of accountability. It truly takes a village to educate, raise, and provide for the next generation, so one needs to commit to paying it forward with time, service, and financial contributions. Then, together we can make positive and lasting impact on our communities and children.