Women Leaders Come Together for Second Annual 16th District Women’s EmpowHER Brunch

Women Leaders Come Together for Second Annual 16th District Women’s EmpowHER Brunch
Veteran's Memorial Park


Women Leaders Come Together for Second Annual 16th District Women’s EmpowHER Brunch (Cook County, IL) — On Friday, March 17th Cook County Commissioner Frank J. Aguilar and 16th District Women’s Commissioner Claudia Ayala hosted the Second Annual 16th District Women’s EmpowHer Brunch to celebrate women leaders throughout Cook County and the 16th District. The event, located at Lyons Village Hall, brought 100 individuals to discuss the hard work and community services led by women in the 16th District.

“Art has the ability to speak many languages and connect, and that’s exactly the way I’d like to center this platform, with hopes of becoming a conduit for action and unity among the many incredible women doing the work day in and day out in our district,” said 16th District Women’s Commissioner Claudia Ayala.  “This year’s winner of the Peggy A. Montes Award, Antonia Ruppert, was the perfect person to bring us all together through her recognition, and I am grateful for a second year with the Power Brunch hosted alongside Commissioner Aguilar, Lyons Mayor Getty, and Lyons Clerk Irma Quintero.”

In attendance was Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, the 16th District Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine award winner Antonia Ruppert, the other Unsung Heroine nominees, women elected officials, and local community leaders throughout the municipalities of the 16th District.  This event was a moment to focus solely on the work these women do in our communities, highlighting the critical services they provide to our residents, and giving the opportunity to expand their networks so that they can not only continue to be leaders in their community, but also the entire district.

“For many years, I’ve survived on faith and fortitude, proving again and again that with God all things are possible and a beautiful flower can grow through concrete,” said Antonia Ruppert, winner of the 16th District Unsung Heroine Award. “One of my family ancestors, Ambrose, learned to read and write and taught his siblings what he knew, saving his family from ignorance and poverty. My aim is to likewise share the artistic gifts I have been given, uplifting my community as I go. Thank you for this award – I accept it on behalf of my ancestors who kept giving, creating, pushing, praying and believing.”

This event also featured a Power Panel of women leaders who discussed their work, goals, and policies they advocate for with state, county, and municipal leadership.  On the panel was the 2023 Unsung Heroine Award Winner Antonia Ruppert, Community Wellness Advocate Monica Kirkland, and Lyons Village Clerk Elyse Hoffenberg. After the panel, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle delivered closing remarks.

“We are pleased to recognize and acknowledge this year’s Unsung Heroine and nominees from the 16th District of Cook County,” said President Preckwinkle. “Their strength, resilience, and sacrifice to better their communities inspires us all. Cook County is a better place because of their work, and we are proud to call them residents in the County we all call home.”

Celebrating the diversity that is one of the 16th Districts greatest strengths has been a joy for Commissioner Aguilar, and he has made a point to work closely with 16th District Women’s Commissioner Claudia Ayala to ensure that all women leaders in the district have their time to speak about their work, the importance of what they do, and the everyday impact it makes in the communities they serve.  These women leaders were from towns and villages in every part of our district, allowing for them to communicate about what has worked and how they can help lead the way to continue improving our resident’s lives.

“So many of our community leaders in the 16th District are women, and it is important to make sure they are given equal chances to engage our residents and make an impact in our communities,” said Cook County Commissioner Frank J. Aguilar.  “From every corner in our district there are women, whether they are mayors, trustees, alderpersons or hard working everyday citizens, who work tirelessly to help make this district as great as it is.  I want to thank Claudia Ayala, President Preckwinkle, the Unsung Heroine nominees, and all of the organizers and attendees for coming together for a great event to promote and highlight the incredible work of 16th District women.”

Women Leaders Come Together for Second Annual 16th District Women’s EmpowHER Brunch


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