Staff Report

A group of community leaders committed to improving opportunities for children and families have formed the first local Women United group through the United Way of Santa Barbara County.

Women United focuses on helping more underserved children and families to succeed during crucial early elementary school years and beyond.

The group intends to increase philanthropic support and spearhead advocacy efforts for targeted K-12 educational initiatives, such as the Kindergarten Success Institute and United for Literacy.

The group held its launch event on Feb. 26 at the Hotel Californian. Keynote speakers were Santa Ynez Valley resident Tina McEnroe, founder of the McEnroe Reading & Language Arts Clinic at UCSB, and Marni McGee, a nationally acclaimed children’s author.

Internationally, Women United has more than 70,000 members who work to address the most critical needs of more than 165 communities across six countries, raising more than $1.5 billion over 13 years.

“Women are an incredible force, raising more money for charitable organizations across the globe than ever before,” said Susan Hersberger, the local Women United volunteer chairwoman who recently retired from Aera Energy. “The results demonstrate that United Way’s school readiness and literacy programs make important differences each day, and we’re honored to bring together a network of enthusiastic and dedicated philanthropic women in our community to support those programs.”

“I am excited to be a founding member of Women United. Together, we will make a positive difference for many of Santa Barbara’s youngest learners,” added Amber Ortiz, Vice President/Private Banker at City National Bank.

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