WPB Hosts 17th Annual Spring Symposium Featuring Keynote Speaker Emeril Lagasse

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

Emeril Lagasse speaking at the Women’s Philanthropy Board Luncheon.

Renowned chef and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse delivered the keynote address at the Women’s Philanthropy Board Luncheon.

The Women’s Philanthropy Board (WPB) celebrated 17 years of philanthropic work and nonprofit engagement at its annual spring symposium on April 5th. The event opened with sessions on the science of negotiating and social impact investing, culminating with a keynote by renowned chef and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse during the event’s luncheon.

WPB is the flagship program of the Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies that works to encourage individuals to make a difference in their personal and professional lives, develop their leadership potential, achieve financial independence and mentor future philanthropists. WPB also provides educational opportunities and financial support to students and faculty in the Auburn University College of Human Sciences.

College of Human Sciences Dean and WPB Benefactor Member June Henton welcomed WPB members, PHILs, corporate partners and guests to the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center Monday.

“What grew out of a very small group of women in 2002 has turned into a nationally-recognized organization, providing educational and mentoring programs on wealth management, philanthropy and nonprofit leadership,” Henton said. “When you look back through the years and see the number of women leaders who have inspired us, who have helped us build this organization, we are so proud of every one that has been present.”

Olivia Hails, Southern Division Retirement Director with Janus Henderson’s Defined Contribution and Wealth Advisor Services Team, led the kick-off session entitled “The Science of Negotiating: A Guide for Women.” Hails also leads Janus Henderson’s Women and Wealth initiatives in the South and East, and focused her talk on identifying ways women can better leverage their interests in important negotiations.

“How do we balance our financial wellness with our personal wellness, so that we get what we want out of life without having to sacrifice our wealth, our health and our happiness?” Hails said. “Know what you want, and ask for it. Utilize your specific negotiation style, so that you can learn to leverage that to get what you want.”

President of LOCUS Impact Investing Teri Lovelace followed Hails with a presentation and forum on “Social Impact Investing: Building Prosperous and Vibrant Communities.” Lovelace explained that impact investing is the overlap of investment dollars and charitable purpose that benefits the overall quality of life in the community.

“This is putting mission and money together.” Lovelace said. “LOCUS is working with place-focused foundations around the country that want to use their assets differently and invest locally.”

At the WPB Luncheon, the keynote speaker was celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. Lagasse is a household name in the culinary world, best-selling author, award-winning TV personality, national restauranteur and founder of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

“Inspiring, mentoring and enabling are values that are deep-rooted in my family, my restaurant company and in the world of hospitality,” Lagasse said. “Identifying talents, interests and even struggles is a large part of helping young people grow, but more importantly, to help them succeed.”

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation supports youth educational programs that focus on teaching culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating and life skills. Initiatives backed by the Foundation include Emeril’s Culinary Garden and Teaching Kitchen; organic gardening and culinary arts in New Orleans high schools; hospitality and self-sufficiency programs; and a host of community outreach efforts. Since its creation by Emeril and Alden Lagasse in 2002, the Foundation has contributed more than $10 million to advance these efforts.

“Mentoring is at the heart of my philosophy,” Lagasse said. “I truly believe that you have to give in order to receive. No matter what stage of your career you’re at, you have to mentor people. And it doesn’t matter what your craft is – you have to have a mentor.”

Lagasse also lauded Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences for its creation of the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, which breaks ground at the end of this week.

“There could not have been a better week, or year, for us to have such an icon in the culinary world join us for this event. The Rane Center will provide students with a world-class teaching hotel and restaurant, a range of classrooms, a wine appreciation center, in addition to demonstration, media and food production laboratories,” said Dean June Henton. “This new center will provide Auburn students an unparalleled opportunity to learn best practices in hospitality and culinary sciences, and do it all within a luxury setting from the best in the industry.”

The symposium will be the last in which June Henton will act as the sitting dean of the College of Human Sciences, after a tenure that spanned almost four decades. To mark this milestone, WPB President Dess Feick announced the renaming of the Board’s scholarship fund in her honor.

“WPB’s educational outreach, mentoring and philanthropic initiatives have all been built on her vision for a program that, first and foremost, educated and enabled women to be empowered financial and philanthropic decision-makers,” Feick said. “In honor of her contributions to the Women’s Philanthropy Board, Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, College of Human Sciences and Auburn University, we are proud to share that the WPB scholarship endowment has now been renamed the Dr. June Henton Women’s Philanthropy Board Scholarship Endowment.”

Since its founding in 2002, WPB has given back more than $770,000 in student scholarships, programmatic grants and faculty awards. The Dr. June Henton Women’s Philanthropy Board Scholarship Endowment will continue to support College of Human Sciences educational programs, faculty advancement and students who demonstrate financial need. Recipients of the annual scholarships, grants and awards are recognized at the WPB symposium each spring.