Empowering Voices: A Recap of LeadHER Forward Networking Night

Karen Keene and Beth Smith speaking at LeadHER Forward

On Thursday, March 7, the Women’s History & Cultural Center in Orlando became a beacon of inspiration as it hosted the remarkable LeadHER Forward Networking Night, organized by Heart of Florida United Way’s Women United Impact Group and the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council to celebrate Women’s History Month. The event was an inspirational gathering aimed at empowering and connecting women throughout Central Florida. 

The night featured the presence of two extraordinary speakers, Karen Keene and Beth Smith, whose stories of resilience, leadership, and community engagement left a powerful impression on all attendees. 

Karen Keene shared her compelling journey, detailing how a near-fatal home invasion led to her undergoing 26 life-saving surgeries. This harrowing experience transformed her into a symbol of courage and an advocate for women’s leadership. As the founder of ATHENA Orlando Women’s Leadership, Inc., Karen’s speech was not just a recount of her struggles but a powerful call to action, encouraging every woman to rise above adversity and thrive in their personal and professional lives. 

Beth Smith, with her rich background in public sector strategy and community relations, offered invaluable insights into navigating the complex landscapes of healthcare and government. Her tenure as Vice President of Government & Education at Cigna Healthcare’s Florida markets has been marked by an unwavering commitment to public service and innovation. Beth’s narrative emphasized the importance of community engagement and the role of supportive networks in fostering women’s leadership. 

The event transcended the typical networking evening; it was a profound educational experience. Attendees were not only given the chance to connect with peers and community leaders but also learned about various women’s organizations in Central Florida. They were encouraged to explore avenues for involvement and professional development. 

Moreover, the event provided access to the “Legacy of Excellence: Phenomenal Black Women in Central Florida” exhibit. This showcase, presented by the Poinsette Foundation, paid homage to the significant contributions of Black women in the region, serving as a tremendous source of inspiration. 

Were you inspired by LeadHER Forward Networking Night? Did you miss it but want to learn more about Women United?

 Consider joining Women United, our advocacy group for women professionals in Central Florida, or registering to volunteer with Heart of Florida United Way! 
You can also join us at our upcoming Women United Luncheon, presented by the Walt Disney World® Resort.