With a warm embrace of two towering leaders from the past, and an uplifting message for the future about female confidence and empowerment, the USF Women in Philanthropy & Leadership’s 11th annual Fall Symposium, held on October 6, 2016, was a sight to behold at the Hilton Tampa. An energized sold-out gathering of 950 – the largest audience ever to attend the yearly fall event –
participated in an array of insightful morning workshops on women’s issues, and then packed the massive Hilton ballroom for the main event: a luncheon that honored the visionary and philanthropic work of Betty Castor and Elaine Shimberg, showcased WLP Scholar Paula Gonzalez’ inspiring story of overcoming enormous adversity, and was electrified by the keynote speech of veteran network TV journalist and author Claire Shipman.

In her keynote, “Cracking the Confidence Code,” Shipman explained how even the most outwardly successful women can quietly question their own achievements and undercut their confidence with negative self-talk. The half-day program has always singled out women who have become transformational leaders through their volunteer, professional and philanthropic contributions. This year’s two award winners fully exemplify that standard, having blazed noteworthy paths to make the Tampa Bay area a better place to work and live. For their efforts, Castor received the Community Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award and Shimberg the Community Leadership Award. The event raised more than $295,000, funds that will be dedicated to providing scholarships for outstanding students, grants for faculty involved in groundbreaking research, and leadership programs across the USF System.