We are celebrating 16 years of impact!


2018 WLC Premier Event

Thursday, August 30

5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Principal Atrium
711 High St., Des Moines



“When caring women unite, children’s lives improve.”


United Way of Central Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection (WLC) members believe all children should start school ready to learn. Graduation from high school is an 18-year journey, beginning at birth. WLC invests in research-based strategies that ensure children are ready for kindergarten – the first step in that journey.

Since 2002, WLC contributions have exceeded $16 million to improve the network of care and learning that ensure young children are ready to succeed in school. More than 650 of central Iowa’s most generous and influential women give their time, voice and resources to support quality early learning and provide opportunities for those who need it most.


WLC Members   WLC Programs


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“I feel good knowing that the dollars I contribute to United Way WLC support young children in our community and puts them on the right path to be ready to start kindergarten. I also enjoy the networking opportunity that WLC events provide.”

– Jamie Schug, WLC member


Why Join?

  • Nothing is more important to our community than ensuring every young person succeeds in school. Through financial contributions, advocacy and volunteerism, Women’s Leadership Connection members ensure children are ready for kindergarten. Align your financial contribution and volunteer efforts to help children start kindergarten ready to learn and succeed.

  • Network with like-minded women and community leaders.

  • See first-hand how your investment is improving young children’s lives in central Iowa.

  • Be part of a nationally-recognized group of dedicated female philanthropists.

We’re inviting you to LIVE UNITED and join United Way of Central Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection with an investment of $1,000 or more for kindergarten readiness.


WLC Membership Benefits

Member level

  • Exclusive invitations to WLC events, where you can meet, learn from and connect with some of central Iowa’s most influential women.

  • Timely e-newsletters that relay information about your investment in kindergarten readiness, events and volunteer opportunities.

$1,000 Level

  • Membership in the Leadership Circle, a group of more than 3,500 local leaders contributing $1,000-9,999 to United Way of Central Iowa.

  • Recognition in our United Way of Central Iowa Community Report and Leadership Circle Registry, published annually.

  • Opportunity to participate on WLC committees that provide direction related to special events, volunteer opportunities, early childhood investments, fundraising and advocacy.

$2,500 level – Lead Woman

$10,000 level and above – Woman of Tocqueville

  • All of the above, plus full membership in the Tocqueville Society.

WLC Membership Step-Up Program

If you are ready to join WLC but cannot yet make the full financial commitment of $1,000 or $2,500, the step-up program is a great way to begin.


WLC Member

WLC Lead Woman

Woman of Tocqueville ($10,000)


$500 (Minimum)

$1,500 (Minimum)

$5,000 (Minimum)










Upcoming WLC Events


  • Literacy Solstice (June 21)
    RSVP Now
  • dsm Magazine Unveiling Party
    (June 26)


  • Webinar
  • Women of Tocqueville Event
    (July 11)
  • Program Tour


  • Backpack Heroes Packing Event (August 2)
  • Premier Event (August 30)


  • Day of Action (September 11)
  • Webinar


  • Mission Moment


  • Holiday Helping Hand guide released (Nov. 1)
  • Literacy Kit Finishing Event


  • Legislative Breakfast
  • Women of Tocqueville Holiday Event

January 2019

  • Day on the Hill

February 2019

  • Webinar

WLC Advisory Committee

Comprised of the Chairs of each WLC Committee, members of the Advisory Committee share updates on each area, discuss strategic direction, and assist with on-going communication and explore ways to highlight WLC successes and early childhood issues.


Natali Justiniano Pahl Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous yearWLC_Badge.pngLoyal Donor - 10+ years of giving
Assistant Vice President,
Human Resources Systems and Support
The Principal Financial Group

Jenene Armstrong
Carrie Bening 
Christine Bruner
Lonnie Dafney
Jem Gong-Browne 
Lynn Graves Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Siobhan Harman 
Ashley Holter

Debbi HubbellTocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Cathy Lacy Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Jessica McCulloh Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Mandi McReynolds
Joyce Pingel 
Denise Smithson Green 
Renee Wood 

WLC Advocacy Committee

Monitor and engage in legislative activities related to early childhood learning including interaction with legislators and hosting advocacy-related educational sessions for WLC members.


Mandi McReynolds WLC_Badge.png
Global Community Relations Manager Principal Financial Group

Ashley Holter

Heather Bahe 
Deanna Benningsdorf

Margaret Borgen 
Teree Caldwell-Johnson 
Carrie Clogg 
Lonnie Dafney 
Cheryl Dahlquist 
Stephanie Darbo
Darcy Darrah
Danielle Foster-Smith
Michelle Giffith
Emily Hamilton
Suzanne Heckenlaible
Karman Hotchkiss
Kristin Hurd
Natali Justiniano Pahl Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Carrie King
Lara Liss
Judy McCoy Davis
Susan Pegg 
Marla Sheffler
Melissa Shields 
Denise Smithson Green

Cari Spear
Georgia Van Gundy Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Emily Westergaard
Erika Williams 

WLC Investment Committee

Develop new investment strategies, monitor current investments, make annual funding recommendations and provide quarterly updates to UWCI Executive Committee.


Jess McCullohTocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Vice President, Talent Acquisition Strategy & Delivery
Wells Fargo


                                     VICE CHAIR
                                     Christine Bruner

Wendy Batchelder
Deanna Benningsdorf
Jem Gong-Browne
Siobhan Harman
Debbie Hubbell Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Tessie Johnson Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Andrea Kloberdanz
Judy McCoy Davis

Eve Patterson
Sherry Perkins 
Meighan Phillips

Joyce Pingel
Jean Reed
Jamie Schug
Ellen Willadsen Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year

Women’s Leadership Connection members invest their money, expertise, time and influence to strengthen our community’s network of early learning for young children— helping them begin kindergarten ready to read, learn, succeed.

Your WLC contributions and volunteer action:

  • Support 18 early learning centers and more than 200 in-home care proviers, giving 2,000 children a nurturing, safe and enriching environment in which to learn and grow

  • Improve children's health and development by promoting quality child care, school readiness and early grade reading skills

  • Provide facility improvements, curriculum enhancements, wage incentives and training for teachers and staff

  • Participate in volunteer opportunites such as Stuff The Bus book drive and the Book Buddy reading program

WLC Engagement Committee

Plan and execute special events for WLC members including networking, education, and recognition of child care providers reaching milestones.


Lonnie Dafney
Director of Human Resources
Federal Home Loan Bank

Carrie Bening

Emily Abbas Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Jenene Armstrong
Heather Bahe
Kira Barclay
Cheryl Dalhquist
Stephanie Darbo
Marian Flattery 
Michelle Giffith 
Suzanne Heckenlaible 

Lara Liss 
Becky Nash
Nancy Sandor
Alynn Smith
Georgann Smith
Mikki Stier 
Chris Terhark
Erika Williams

WLC 2017 Campaign Committee

Provides input to determine annual WLC fundraising goal and reaches out via personal phone calls and written communication to assist with renewing and prospecting members.


Renee Wood
Director of Marketing & Business Intelligence
Sammons Financial Group

Jenene Armstrong

Kira Barclay
Lisa Bender
Carrie Bening
Erin Butler
Jennifer Fegter
Siobhan Harman

Carrie King
Andrea Kloberdanz 
Mary O'Keefe Tocqueville Society Member - $10,000 or higher gift to United Way in previous year
Steph Phillips
Marla Sheffler 
Barb Sullivan

"The Women's Leadership Connection has been a powerful force in central Iowa for preschool children in need. We are proud to have raised millions and invested in some amazing programs to help kids."

Ka'Meka Lowery

Ka'Meka Lowery
Women's Leadership Connection Director


klowery@unitedwaydm.org   (515) 246-6541