Spring Symposium 2019

Spring Symposium Recap

We could not be more thankful for the perfect day to have our annual Women’s Leadership Council Spring Symposium. The skies were clear, spring had sprung, and we were surrounded by women with giving hearts!

The day began with guests checking in and reconnecting with old and new friends. Several women explored our Engagement Lounge where they could register for volunteer projects, impact tours, Leaders United, or join the Women's Leadership Council.


  (From left to right- United Way of Northwest Georgia President, Amanda Burt, WLC Spring Symposium Host, Sandee Hooper,
      and fab’rik CEO & Founder and WLC keynote speaker, Dana Spinola)

This year we encouraged everyone coming to the symposium to wear denim in honor of Denim Day which happened to be on the same day as our symposium, April 24th, 2019. Denim Day is a global day of awareness for those who are survivors of sexual violence. It also fights to educate people within communities on how to prevent sexual violence. We are so fortunate to have community partners such as Family Frameworks, Family Support Council, the Greenhouse, and Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center who are the frontlines serving those who have been abused and to educate our community in sexual violence prevention.



We then were served exquisite chicken salad and pimento cheese on top of a spring mix salad with dressing, a side of tomato soup, and a baked chocolate dessert with fresh berries. And who could forget the amazing raspberry sweet tea??

Our President, Amanda Burt, began the United Way presentation with a video that highlights some of our Women’s Leadership Council members and why they decided to join WLC.

“It was an incredible day! United Way of Northwest Georgia and our Women’s Leadership Council is the connecting point for women to engage in a meaningful and impactful way in improving the education, basic needs, and health of every person in our community. It was so inspiring to see so many women in one place who desire to do more for their community,” said United Way of Northwest Georgia President, Amanda Burt.

And we had the amazing opportunity to hear from a very special guest, Dana Spinola, founder and CEO of fab’rik.

It started with a dream… Dana always loved fashion and how clothing could make you feel beautiful and empowered.

She discussed the hardships of starting her own business while also being a mom, “I’m not always as put together as I seem on Instagram and I think for many of us it’s that way. It’s okay to feel like you’re falling apart because, in reality, no one can be everything at once.”

It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to not always have it together because no dream worth pursuing is going to be easy.

BUT we must take care of ourselves. If we don’t take the time to tend to ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally then we run the risk of becoming burnt out on our passion.


When asked what self-care really looks like Dana stated, “The first step is knowing what you need to refuel. Some people need time away on a jog while others need a girl's trip with 4 friends. Some need yoga and meditation while others need hip hop dance class with 10 strangers. Everyone is different and if you think you refueling when you get tired and burnt out and aren't, you aren't taking care of yourself. I took a quiz and learned I was an introvert (which explains why I love to hide in my closet and journal after a day of back to back meetings) but I didn't know that I was actually refueling. Since I loved people I didn't know I needed that time. So the first step to self care, is simply knowing yourself and what you need to feel inspired again.”


Dana has always believed that clothing has the ability to change lives. In 2009, she launched the brand's nonprofit arm, free fab’rik, which provides free shopping sprees for women and girls in need. In 2012, fab'rik launched its in-house designed clothing line, Asher where proceeds from the collection help provide financial support for orphans in Kenya until they find their forever homes. At the intersection of passion and purpose, Dana has built a brand that truly delivers High Style with Heart.

“How would you recommend someone find their passion that fuels a purpose?” asked our host, Sandee Hooper.

“Well like anything else, you have to do the work and be intentional to find the answer to this question but it is already inside of you so that's the good news! It takes asking yourself some tough questions and taking the time to write the answers down. What makes your heart beat? What breaks your heart? How do they intersect? If you still aren't sure ask people close to you (aka your wise counsel) because you talk about both of these and they can tell you. I would also recommend starting small. If homelessness breaks your heart, you won't be able to end it in a week unfortunately or even in a zip code so start on your street or with one person and start with a blanket and then see where God takes you,” replied Dana.  

In her book, Love What You Do, Dana challenges you to define your true purpose and intricately weaves your drive, passions and job to create a guide for a sincerely meaningful life.


When we asked symposium guest, Myrtle Hooper, about her experience at our event she responded, “Dana did an excellent job in getting her point across to the many ladies that attended. At the age of 80, the only thing I can say to everyone is “GO FOR IT”. The world is yours. Just be sure you enjoy what you do. Another highlight of the day was when I looked at the United Way brochure and saw one of my granddaughters in the picture of the softball team from Murray County Developmental Center.”


Out of inspiration from Dana’s Free Fab’rik concept we held a clothing drive at this year’s symposium where we collected gently used women’s business casual and business professional clothing. We will hold a “shopping spree” for several of our community partners where women can get what they need to dress for success in their jobs and job interviews. At the end of last week we had collected 80+ gallons of clothing to donate to women in need within our community! Thank you for all your donations!

You can view the Spring Symposium 2019 Facebook album here.