Philanthropist Vanessa Williams to speak at United Way event

Vanessa Williams, an accomplished singer, actress and New York Times bestselling author, is coming to Phoenix to speak at a luncheon presented by Valley of the Sun United Way’s Women United.

“We Are UNITED,” a fundraising event to help fund Valley of the Sun United Way fund efforts to fight hunger in the classroom, will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, May 18 at The Arizona Biltmore.

The Honorary Chairwoman of the event is Arizona First Lady Angela Ducey, according to a press release.

Vanessa Williams (submitted photo)

Ms. Williams is a well-respected performer who has garnered Grammy Award nominations, Tony Award nominations and Emmy nominations — to name a few.

Throughout the course of her career as a performer she has conquered music, movies, television, and Broadway. Some of her best-known roles include Wilhelmina Slater in “Ugly Betty,” Renee Perry in “Desperate Housewives” and Teri Joseph in “Soul Food.”

She has supported various charitable organizations including the Special Olympics and The Eye Bank.

All proceeds from this luncheon directly benefit the Valley of the Sun United Way’s efforts to erase hunger in the classroom, including its Breakfast in the Classroom program and its WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks for families in need, among other key partnerships.

“Too many children in our community are not able to make the most of their learning opportunities because they are going to school hungry — with many not having eaten since their school lunch the day before,” Merl Waschler, President and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way said in a prepared statement.

“Children who are hungry cannot focus, which has a detrimental effect on their academic career and chances for success. This event is critical because it allows us to change those outcomes by providing children in need with a healthy meal to support their learning.”

Last year the event raised $200,000 — which allowed United Way to meet its goal to implement the Breakfast in the Classroom program in 130 schools where up to 100 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch programs.

The program benefits more than 74,000 students in Maricopa County annually, the press release stated.

When children have access to a healthy breakfast, they are more likely to be focused on learning the rest of the day and succeed in their studies. Valley of the Sun United Way is on a mission to provide Breakfast in the Classroom to children in need throughout Maricopa County.

This is part of their effort to End Hunger in the Classroom by working with schools to provide meals to children and reduce chronic hunger.

WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks are given to students from families that are struggling with poverty, and provide enough food for students to take home over the weekend to ensure the family is able to eat. The program has been implemented on an ongoing basis throughout

Maricopa County. Currently 507 students weekly receive WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks, the press release stated.

For more information on the event, including sponsorship and table sales, contact Kelli Fawcett at or 602-631-4800.

To learn more, or to pre-register visit:

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