The Chamber’s robust Women of Influence (WOI) committee has had a busy 2013 thus far! In addition to welcoming Viola Davis at their annual luncheon to a record crowd, they’ve hosted a Women’s Series Lunch with a humorous and informative panel of doctors, as well as a Pearls of Wisdom event with a panel of local non-profits. In addition to all of that, the group has started extensive outreach projects throughout the Tampa community, with a focus on women. Early in the year, the group came together to discuss a committee mission statement. They decided on: “Through our leadership and service, the Women of Influence Committee will inspire and educate women through identification and response to business and community needs in collaboration with community partners.” This statement has given the committee a renewed focus and direction in 2013. Here are a few projects the group has tackled so far. Teaming up with Hillsborough Community College, a few WOI women attended a mentoring session with students from HCC’s Women's Mentoring Network group. Sharing their stories and expertise, the WOI committee members gave insight and advice to the students. One student, pictured here with Beth Kerly of the WOI Committee (left), attended the next WOI committee meeting to express her thanks. She was so appreciative of the ladies taking their time to share guidance with the young women. In conjunction with the March Pearls of Wisdom event previously mentioned, the WOI group held a Dress for Success purse and accessory drive. They encouraged committee members and attendees to the Pearls event to donate their slightly used items to women in need. The group collected a slew of handbags, necklaces, earrings, wallets, belts and more to deliver to the Tampa chapter of Dress for Success. Debra Palmer of the WOI committee, pictured here, dropped off the donated items and they expressed their sincere gratitude to the group. In mid-April, the WOI committee partnered with the University of South Florida’s EnhancingU program for student athletes. About 10 women went to USF to attend a “networking night” arranged for just the female student athletes. The students attended to learn and practice networking techniques from business professionals. Discussion followed with a Q&A session as well as recommendations from the WOI ladies to help improve their networking skills. The female students played a variety of sports and studied everything from fashion design to environmental engineering – but they were all very eager to learn about the WOI members’ career paths. Both groups truly benefited from the evening’s program. The WOI committee has extensive plans for future outreach projects and events throughout the rest of the year, so stay tuned to TampaChamber.com for all the details!