UPDATED: Women & Philanthropy Forum Postponed

Photo of Lydia Fenet sitting on chair.
Lydia Fenet, author of “The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You,” will be keynote speaker at Women & Philanthropy’s inaugural forum, “Igniting Connections.” (Courtesy)

Updated 2:30 p.m. March 12: Igniting Connections, the inaugural forum of Women & Philanthropy, is being postponed and will be rescheduled on a later date.

Female leaders are launching a powerful new initiative at the University of California, Davis — Women & Philanthropy, a community that unites women from all walks of life who work together for the public good. Members of this new community will invest their time and money to support UC Davis scholars and work that positively impact the university and the world.

Margaret Lapiz ’89, a founding member of the Women & Philanthropy Advisory Council and a former UC Davis Foundation Board trustee, said the group aims to build a “virtuous cycle of connectivity.”


  • WHAT: Igniting Connections, inaugural forum of Women & Philanthropy
  • WHO: Three faculty members will give talks on career growth, positivity and women’s suffrage, and keynote speaker Lydia Fenet, author of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You, will give tips for success and empowerment.
  • WHERE: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
  • WHEN: 1-3:30 p.m., Sunday, March 29
  • TICKETS: Available now through the Mondavi Center box office.

“In our inaugural year, our goal is to raise $1 million and have 1,000 women contribute to the Women & Philanthropy Fund,” Lapiz said. “Every gift, from small to large, will help make an impact.”

The fund will support the Women & Philanthropy Impact Award, to be given to UC Davis staff or faculty who demonstrate advancement of women in their field or exceptional leadership qualities, and who have made significant contributions to benefit the university or broader communities.

Lapiz added that the Women & Philanthropy Impact Award will allow awardees to support UC Davis areas of their choosing, elevating women and their scholarship universitywide.

“Through our contributions in time, expertise and finances, we can help the university do amazing things in terms of its research, the success of students and faculty, and advancing approaches and innovative solutions to problems across the world,” she said.

Inaugural forum to empower, connect

Women & Philanthropy will host its inaugural forum, “Igniting Connections,” Sunday, March 29, at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The day will feature keynote speaker Lydia Fenet, author of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You, and will be moderated by LeShelle May. The event is open to all, and tickets are available now through the Mondavi Center box office.

Global managing director at Christie’s, Fenet is a leading benefit auctioneer who has raised more than a half-billion dollars for more than 400 nonprofit organizations worldwide. She will share the secrets of success and how people can channel their own power in any room.

Fenet’s keynote will cap a day of short talks by UC Davis faculty members:

  • Helene Dillard, dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — “How a Love of Plants Helped Me Grow a Career”
  • Alison Ledgerwood, professor of psychology — “Why Negativity Sticks and What to Do About It”
  • Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, associate professor of history — “100 Years Before and After the 19th Amendment”

“Women & Philanthropy is about empowerment,” May said. “We recognize that when women come together with a common cause and shared vision, we can accomplish extraordinary things.”

May, a senior engineer with CNN, is renowned for her leadership and innovation in the development of software and web applications. She is married to Chancellor Gary S. May and is a member of the Women & Philanthropy Advisory Council.

“We want to encourage women to use their personal and economic power to make meaningful impact,” May said. “We also want to create a diverse network of women at UC Davis to leverage our collective voices.”

Media Resources

Betsy Towner Levine, Development and Alumni Relations, 530-752-9693, etlevine@ucdavis.edu

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