The University of South Florida Women in Leadership & Philanthropy (WLP) recognized two outstanding leaders during the 17th annual WLP Symposium at the Tampa Marriott Water Street hotel. Colleen Chappell and Clara Reynolds were selected for their dedication to providing life-changing assistance to USF and Tampa Bay communities.
Established in 2005, WLP has a history of empowering strong female leaders and educating its members through their primary mission: making a difference in the lives of women throughout USF and in our communities.
USF President Rhea Law, an active WLP member, said it has been exhilarating to watch the organization grow and open doors to success for many talented students.
“We are so proud of our incredible student scholars,” Law said. “It is through their remarkable accomplishments that we are reminded why we’re gathered here today as members of Women in Leadership & Philanthropy.”
Clara Reynolds received WLP’s 2023 Community Leadership Award, given to visionary leaders and philanthropists doing extraordinary things to make the Tampa Bay region a better place for women to live and work. Reynolds serves as president and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, which helps people facing challenges or trauma due to sexual assault, suicidal thoughts, domestic violence, financial distress, or emotional or situational problems.
During her acceptance speech, Reynolds talked about her dedication to social services. She said those who choose this field, including herself, do not do it for accolades or fame.
“We do this work because we want to help people who are going through life’s most challenging circumstances,” Reynolds said. “This was my personal motivation 30 years ago, and it’s my motivation today.”
WLP also recognized Colleen Chappell, chairman of the board at ChappellRoberts, with its 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented annually to an outstanding leader whose life’s work has demonstrably improved the community and has contributed to the advancement of women.
Chappell has been a longtime leader in her community and profession through her volunteer service for many organizations, including Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Council and Feeding Tampa Bay. During her speech she said it was an honor to be in the company of greatness.
“USF has always been a hope for me and many others,” Chappell said. “WLP transforms lives by providing millions in life-changing scholarships for young women who dream of being more.”
Chappell and Reynolds were recognized in front of approximately 950 guests at the sold-out event. Presented by Florida Blue, the symposium included six panel sessions, networking activities, and the awards luncheon featuring a conversation with Entrepreneur of the Year and Outstanding Mother of the Year Kendra Scott.
Scott is the founder, executive chairwoman and lead designer of billion-dollar jewelry brand Kendra Scott. Throughout her successful career, she and her associates have always made philanthropy a priority and have given more than $30 million to nonprofit organizations.
“I really wanted to create something that was unique and different, but I also wanted to give back,” Scott said. “So, any nonprofit that would call me, I decided I would never say no. I could make a pair of earrings for a silent auction or give a necklace for a raffle. That’s what I could do in that moment. And as the business grew, I was able to give more and do more.”
During a Q&A session with Estella Gray, senior regional communications lead at Florida Blue, Scott shared her journey from selling hats to owning a world-renowned jewelry brand. She discussed dealing with rejection and how learning from adversity can lead to success.
“Think of it now as you’ve just begun the conversation. You have not lost anything yet,” Scott said. “You have an opportunity to gain knowledge, gain friendship, gain connection. And ultimately, it could lead to a yes.”
For more information about USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy, visit usf.edu/wlp.