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Photo collage of Annual Luncheon speakers over the years

Delve into 30 Years of Annual Luncheon Speakers & Special Guests

// April 8, 2024

Celebrating 30+ Years of Remarkable Women at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s Annual Luncheon

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s Annual Luncheon is the state’s largest fundraiser and community building event benefitting Colorado women. Since its inception in 1990, this event has become a cornerstone, garnering widespread support and attendance. We take pride in the outstanding reputation we’ve built for our event, showcasing grantee programs, presenting statewide research, celebrating public policy victories, and hosting distinguished luncheon guests.

Over the past 30+ years, our luncheon stage has been graced by a diverse array of remarkable women, including world-class athletes, award-winning actresses, and activists. Many broke barriers in their fields becoming symbols of resilience and relentless determination.

We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s Annual Luncheon will continue this tradition of excellence with two incredible guests: Artist Jordan Casteel and author Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Join us as we welcome these visionary women to our stage, where they will undoubtedly inspire and uplift us with their unique perspectives and contributions to art and literature.

Until then, get to know some of our past speakers below and delve into their stories and successes to gain insight into the inspiring journeys they’ve shared at our event.

Leaders, Legends, and Legacies

2023 | Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck speaks onstage at the 2023 Annual LuncheonSallie Krawcheck is the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a wealthtech company built by women, for women. Sallie was CEO of Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, and US Trust. She was also CFO for Citigroup. She is widely recognized as “the most powerful woman on Wall Street.”

“You can’t win as an individual versus a team…We’ve got to use our money to support other women, hold each other up.” – Sallie Krawcheck

2022 | Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix speaks onstage at 2022 Annual LuncheonAllyson Felix is a retired American track and field athlete. Currently, she is the most decorated track & field U.S. Olympian in history. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in advocating for maternity protections in sports, prompting positive changes in Nike’s policy. She later founded her own footwear company, Saysh, in 2021.

“Use your voice, even if it shakes.” – Allyson Felix

2021 | Robin Arzon

Robin Arzon speaks onstage at the 2021 Annual Luncheon next to Renee Ferrufino, WFCO VP of Development

Robin Arzon is an American fitness instructor and author and became well known as a Peloton instructor. She currently serves as the Vice President of Fitness Programming for Peloton and is known for her motivational and inspiring voice in helping others reach their goals.

“I believe my life’s mission is to light fires!” – Robin Arzon

2019 | Noor Tagouri & Maysoon Zayid

Lauren Y. Casteel, Maysoon Zayid, & Noor Tagouri laugh together onstage at 2019 Annual LuncheonNoor Tagouri is an American journalist who produces documentaries addressing issues such as the mistreatment of people with mental disabilities and a podcast-series focusing on sex trafficking in the U.S.

Maysoon Zayid is an American actress, activist, and comedian living with cerebral palsy. She is also recognized as a trailblazing Muslim woman comedian of Palestinian heritage.

“I was the girl who did everybody’s homework, but I was also, like, student council president and yearbook editor and, like, all-around overachiever. Like, I’m disabled, but I can do anything.” – Maysoon Zayid

2018 | Billy Jean King

Billy Jean King smiles onstage at 2018 Annual LuncheonBilly Jean King is a former world No. 1 tennis player. She’s recognized as a trailblazer for gender equality and equal pay, and famously won in the “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in founding the Women’s Tennis Association.

“Everyone’s an influencer, don’t think you’re not.” – Billy Jean King

2017 | Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer laughs onstage at 2017 Annual Luncheon

Octavia Spencer is a highly acclaimed American actress who has earned an Academy Award, British Academy Film Award, and a Golden Globe Award. Furthermore, she made history as the first Black actress to secure two consecutive Oscar nominations.

“The way to bring about change is to be proactive and active.” – Octavia Spencer

2016 | Misty Copeland

Lauren Y. Casteel and Misty Copeland laugh onstage while holding hands and curtsying at 2016 Annual LuncheonMisty Copeland is an American ballet dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT). In 2015, she made history and became the first Black woman to be named a principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history.

“Belonging shouldn’t mean you are like everyone else.” – Misty Copeland

2015 | Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O'Brien takes a selfie with a young Black woman at the 2015 Annual LuncheonSoledad O’Brien is an American broadcast journalist and executive producer. She’s hosts the nationally syndicated talk show Matter of Fact.

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” – Soledad O’Brien

2014 | Shiza Shahid

Shiza Shahid speaks onstage at 2014 Annual LuncheonShiza Shahid is a Pakistani social entrepreneur and activist and co-founded the Malala Fund to advocate for universal girls’ education. She’s been recognized in Time’s “30 Under 30” and Forbes’s “30 Under 30” lists.

“Never doubt your ability to achieve anything, overcome anything, and inspire everything. There are no superheroes. There is just us, and too often we are the ones that we keep waiting for.” – Shiza Shahid

2013 | America Ferrera

America Ferrera speaks onstage at 2013 Annual LuncheonAmerica Ferrera, a renowned American actress, has won multiple awards, including a Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. She is an influential figure, listed among Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2007 and featured in BBC’s 100 Women list in 2023.

“To me, the tragedy about this whole image-obsessed society is that young girls get so caught up in just achieving that they forget to realize that they have so much more to offer the world.” – America Ferrera

2012 | Geena Davis

Geena Davis speaks onstage at 2012 Annual Luncheon

Geena Davis, an American actress, activist, fashion model, and producer, has received prestigious awards such as the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award. In 2004, she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, dedicated to fostering greater representation of female characters in the entertainment industry.

“How do we encourage a lot more girls to pursue science, technology, and engineering careers? By casting droves of women in STEM jobs today in movies and on TV.” – Geena Davis

Other Notable Guests:

Timeline of luncheon speakers from 1994-2010

2010 – Alfre Woodard

Alfre Woodard is a celebrated American actress. Her impressive career has earned her four Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. Recognized for her exceptional talent, The New York Times honored her in 2020 by ranking her among “The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century.”

2009 – Lisa Ling

Lisa Ling is a prominent American journalist, author, and television personality. She currently serves as a news contributor for CBS News. Her diverse career includes hosting “This Is Life with Lisa Ling” on CNN, reporting for Channel One News, co-hosting ABC’s daytime talk show “The View” from 1999 to 2002, hosting “National Geographic Explorer” from 2003 to 2010, and being a special correspondent for “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

2008 – Joy Behar

Joy Behar is an American comedian, actress, television host, and writer, and serves as a co-host on the ABC daytime talk show, “The View.” As the sole remaining original panelist, she continues to make regular appearances on the show.

2007 – Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts, an accomplished American journalist and author, had a distinguished career spanning several decades. She served as a political reporter and analyst for outlets such as National Public Radio (NPR), PBS, and ABC News. She is one of NPR’s “Founding Mothers” alongside Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer, and Nina Totenberg.

2006 – Jehan Sadat

Jehan Sadat, an Egyptian advocate for human rights, served as the First Lady of Egypt from 1970 until her husband Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981. Her advocacy in shaping the reformation of Egypt’s civil rights laws led to the implementation of groundbreaking legal changes, known as the “Jehan Laws,” which granted women in Egypt expanded rights, including the right to child support and custody following a divorce.

2005 – Kathy Najimy

Kathy Najimy is a multifaceted American talent, recognized as an actress, comedian, director, writer, producer, and activist. She initially gained national prominence through her feminist production, “The Kathy and Mo Show.”

2003 – Mavis Leno

Mavis Leno, an American philanthropist and the spouse of Jay Leno, former host of The Tonight Show, is a prominent advocate for feminism at the local, national, and international levels. While she maintains a more discreet public presence compared to her husband, Leno has actively engaged in supporting and managing non-profit organizations with a political focus.

2002 – Nina Totenberg

Nina Totenberg was an American legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR).  She is one of NPR’s “Founding Mothers,” along with Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer, and the late Cokie Roberts.

2001 – Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall was an American actress and among the greatest female stars of classic Hollywood cinema. In 2009, she received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her notable contributions to the Golden Age of motion pictures.

2000 – Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich was an American author and political activist. Renowned for her insightful columns and essays, she authored 21 books, earning widespread acclaim and several awards. She won a Lannan Literary Award for her contributions.

1999 – Swanee Hunt

Swanee Hunt is an accomplished American author, academic, and former diplomat. She served as a lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and she also holds the distinction of being the inaugural director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the same institution.

1998 – Christine Todd Whitman

Christine Todd Whitman, an American politician and author, was the 50th governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001. Additionally, she served as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during President George W. Bush’s administration from 2001 to 2003. As of 2023, she remains the only woman to have served as governor in New Jersey.

1997 – Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda is an American actress, activist, and cinematic icon. Her career has earned her numerous awards, including two Academy Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, the AFI Life Achievement Award, the Honorary Palme d’Or, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

1996 – Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut.  In 1992 she became the first Black woman to journey into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

1995 – Hilary Rodham Clinton

Hilary Clinton held prominent roles in public service as an American politician and diplomat. She served as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, was a U.S. senator for New York, and was First Lady to President Bill Clinton. She was also the first woman to secure a presidential nomination from a major U.S. political party in the 2016 election. Additionally, she achieved the distinction of being the first woman to win the popular vote for U.S. president.

1994 – Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith in an accomplished Black actress, playwright, and professor. She won The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize and was chosen as the Jefferson Lecturer by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additionally, she is also the founding director at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University.

Two Colorado Women, One Vision of Equity – Join Us on September 27!

Save your spot at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s Annual Luncheon on Friday, September 27 for a special program featuring two internationally renowned women, artist Jordan Casteel and author Kali Fajardo-Anstine – both Colorado-born and raised.

Purchase your tickets and sponsorships now for this special afternoon celebrating the impact and protecting the progress of all Colorado women!

Get Your Ticket(s) and Sponsorships Now

Category: Annual Luncheon

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