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Modeling leadership: Power of the Purse celebrates 10 years of empowering women
Fashion show highlights WomenSource event
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Martha Zoller shows off her outfit during the 2017 WomenSource's annual Power of the Purse fashion show in Gainesville. - photo by David Barnes

Business owners, students and directors of local nonprofits all held their heads high Tuesday night as they walked across the runway at the 10th annual Power of the Purse fundraiser. 

WomenSource’s signature event, held at the Chattahoochee Country Club, recognized select women in the community who are known for their exceptional leadership and for making an impact.

“We were very intentional about looking for a diverse group of models this year. We really wanted to span the whole community and find women who have excelled as leaders in our community,” said Elizabeth Burnette, executive director for WomenSource. 

Burnette said their models range in age and life stages from a Young Harris College student who has “already shown an amazing amount of leadership in the work she has done locally” to women who have had “full lives of leadership that we want to recognize and acknowledge their achievements.”

“We also have women who are just starting out in career and in life and they are already amazingly successful business owners and career women,” Burnette said.

Nancy Colston, president and chief development officer of The Medical Center Foundation is one of those women. She was the first model down the runway at the event.

“WomenSource is an incredible organization. The impact they have on women of all ages in our community is so significant,” Colston said. “Power of the Purse is a huge fundraiser and education piece in the awareness it creates in our community for women. It is something I have always believed in and have been passionate about.”

Colston, a longtime supporter of WomenSource, has been to several of the Power of the Purse events. 

“I am truly humbled and so honored. Through the years as I have had the opportunity to come and see it grow and be a part of it, I have such admiration for the organization and the people,” Colston said.

Funds raised at the event assist the organization in its mission to encourage personal and professional success for women of all ages and backgrounds in Northeast Georgia.

“WomenSource is an organization in our community that empowers women through education, networking and providing opportunities for women to support women and share our knowledge, experiences, hopes and dreams,” Burnette said. “Any time a nonprofit is able to be as successful as WomenSource, and not just to keep our doors open but to actually soar the way that we have and thrive as an organization, that is what we are celebrating and it’s worth acknowledging that the community recognizes that we are a vital and important part of this area.”

Programs range from health, finance and legal programs, to monthly “power lunches” with women in the community.

“It is great for the community to know that WomenSource is a place where we can provide opportunities to empower women in all walks of life and in all stages of life,” Burnette said. “It matters for an organization like us to exist because we give women the resources and tools they need to be able to lead lives of success no matter their path, passion or goals in life. We are here to support, encourage and educate so that women can thrive in life.”

The event for the close to 400 guests started with a cocktail hour, buffet dinner, raffle featuring high-end handbags and a silent auction featuring work from local female artists. 

“Tonight is a fun night,” Burnette said. “The models are gorgeous, capable and they are going to rock this runway.”

Emcees Dixie Truelove and Robyn Lynch introduced each of the 14 women modeling clothes from local retailers.

The models included Anna Brown, freshman at Flowery Branch High School; Blair Cannon Diaz, founder of Blair Diaz CPA; Beth Grimes, a partner at BatesCarter accounting firm; Yasmin Ibarra, eighth-grader at World Language Academy; Jasmine Jenkins, director of sports and fitness for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier; Amanda McClure, executive director of the Quinlan Visual Art Center; Marty Owens, founder of Randy and Friends, a local nonprofit serving those with disabilities; Monica Ramirez, Young Harris College student; Martha Randolph, owner of Monique’s, a beauty salon and barber supply; Tina Roberts, artist and 2 Dog Restaurant co-owner; Trinity Seegars, freshman at Gainesville High School; Amanda Wilbanks, owner of Southern Baked Pie Co.; and Martha Zoller, “policy person” in U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s office.

“I hope for people in our community that are not aware of WomenSource or have not been to a Power of the Purse event, I would certainly encourage them to learn more about it and become involved,” Colston said. “It is an incredible organization that impacts the lives of so many as far as mentoring younger women, but also all ages.”

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