SUITED FOR CHANGE'S ANNUAL GALA Empowering Women for 30 Years, And We're Not Done Yet!
We had an incredible time celebrating Suited for Change's 30th Anniversary at the Arts Club of Washington on June 1st, 2022!
After reaching such an incredible milestone, it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and welcome some new ones as we look ahead to another 30 years of empowering the women in our community.
In case you missed out on the in-person celebration, below are some of the highlights:
Special Guest: Brooke Pinto, DC Councilmember Ward 2
We were honored to welcome Brooke Pinto, DC Councilmember for Ward 2, as she dedicated a resolution recognizing Suited for Change’s exceptional contributions to support women achieve their professional goals and reach financial independence in Washington, DC.
After being sworn in on June 27, 2020, Brooke became the youngest member elected to the Council of the District of Columbia in history, and the first woman to represent Ward 2.
Sharing our passion for empowering women, Councilmember Pinto will continue her work on behalf of District residents focusing on taking up the call for greater justice, ensuring that the law — both as written and as enforced — is fair for everyone.
While Mayor Muriel Bowser was unable to attend the event, she sent her kind regards to Suited for Change through a celebratory Mayoral Proclamation.
This proclamation highlights the dedication of our volunteer stylists, professional coaches, partner organizations, Board of Directors, and staff for their efforts in creating a woman-led community of mutual support that enriches DC and beyond.
Woman of the Year
To commemorate our 30th Anniversary, Suited for Change has begun a new tradition of honoring a Woman of the Year, recognizing their contributions to the Suited for Change community and their dedication to empowering women.
For our inaugural Woman of the Year, we ended up dedicating the award to two outstanding members of the Suited for Change community: Tehmi Mulla and Liz Reinert.
Tehmi Mulla was the epitome of the clients that walk through the door at SFC. From humble beginnings in Bombay, India, she came up from very little and through hard work, perseverance, and encouragement from others she battled the odds and became a medical doctor, serving others until her late seventies.
Tehmi was an avid supporter of SFC until her passing in early 2022. She was dedicated to helping others get the jumpstart to their professional career and we thought there was no better way to honor her legacy than with our inaugural Woman of the Year award.
However, there was another woman whose work has been instrumental in SFC’s continued success. Without the guidance of our Executive Director, Liz Reinert, SFC surely would not have been able to survive the volatile pandemic.
Thanks to Liz’s perseverance, ingenuity, and positivity, SFC has not only survived the darkest days of the pandemic, but SFC has also begun new programs to ensure we are still supporting the women in our community as best we can through these troubling times.
Both Liz Reinert and Tehmi Mulla exemplify what it means to be an active member of the Suited for Change community and we could not think of a better duo to kick off this annual award.
Volunteer of the Year
After a long hiatus, we finally reinstated our annual Volunteer of the Year award!
Volunteers are the backbone of SFC. Without their constant support we would not be able to provide our clients with the incredibly welcoming atmosphere and personalized experience when they walk in our doors.
After much deliberation, this year’s Volunteer of the Year was awarded to one of the only volunteers who stuck with SFC throughout the darkest days of Covid-19: Marianne Clifford Upton
When many were still hesitant to get back to suiting in-person, Marianne stood up to the challenge and came in every Monday and helped us get back on our feet and serve our clients.
Every time Marianne walks through the doors of the SFC boutique, she brightens everyone’s day – and not just because of her brightly colored outfits! Marianne exudes energy and positivity with every woman she serves, tailoring the suiting experience to the individual client’s needs, and giving them helpful interview advice along the way.
We are so grateful to have Marianne as part of our community and could not think of a better recipient for the return of the Volunteer of the Year award.
A variety of community members played key roles in the success of our Gala this year. From our emcee host and special guests to local food vendors and our incredible CREW volunteers, we are so appreciative of your support.
Our in-person event was emceed by Charmion Kinder who brought her vibrant energy to the stage.
Charmion Kinder is a master communicator, social impact advocate and corporate responsibility strategist with two decades of experience promoting transformational change for the next generation of American leadership. She's founder of CNKinder, Inc., a social impact accelerator and SVP of Social Impact at Values Partnerships – which is the nation's largest Black-owned social impact agency. And together, they work hard to solve big challenges, launch new projects and expand the common good.
Bismah Ahmed, Miss DC of America
We continued along the thread of connecting with our local community with our special guest, Bismah Ahmed, Miss DC of America.
Bismah Ahmed recently made history as the first South Asian and Muslim winner of Miss DC of America. She has been making waves for a long time however as a housing advocate here in our community.
She is a promoter of female empowerment and giving back to her community, particularly by raising awareness about significant global issues, such as the current refugee crisis facing Afghans and Ukrainians. Bismah hopes to inspire other women to venture out and reach for the stars, as
“well behaved women seldom make history.”
As we celebrate our Anniversary, one of our special guests helped us remember our humble beginnings.
Five years after our founding, Tiyika walked in the door of the SFC boutique. Like so many of our clients, Tiyika needed an extra boost to get her professional career started. With the help of our volunteers and staff, Tiyika
"went shopping for everything [she] needed," and found the proper attire to build up her confidence and enter her next interview with her best foot forward.
Twenty-four years later, Tiyika reached out to SFC once again, but this time as a donor.
During the height of the pandemic, Tiyika wanted to give back to the community and immediately thought of SFC. We had such a great time reconnecting with Tiyika and hearing about her experience as a client over 20 years ago that we knew we had to have her as one of our special guests.
Tiyika returned to the SFC boutique to get a styled outfit for the event, and she arrived at the gala dressed to impress.
This year, we’ve strengthened our relationships with our referral partners, especially in regards to those at Catholic Charities.
Since January, we have held workshops with Catholic Charities, meeting more of their clients, sharing information about our suiting and coaching services, and giving detailed workshops on how to dress for the job and interview techniques.
We were honored to welcome two case managers, Norma Solano and Wen Carpenter, from Catholic Charities to be our special guests at the 30th Anniversary Gala to further our relationship as we strive to empower the women in our community.
We cannot wait to see what else is in store for our relationship with Catholic Charities!