Women's Club of Great Falls Scholarship Fund: Fall Tea 2022 40th Anniversary

On Sunday, Oct. 23, the Women's Club of Great Falls Scholarship Fund board of directors gathered with partners, supporters, and friends at the River Bend Club in Great Falls for the 40th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Fall Tea 2022. Among the special guests present were students who had received scholarships from the fund and endowments, Khaseem Davis, director of the Early Identification Program at George Mason University, Kaitlin Cicchetti, Ph.D., director of Advancement University Life at George Mason University, along with the past presidents and board officers.

Directors serving on the fund and others help raise monies to support annual scholarships for deserving higher education students with need in Northern Virginia to help them graduate on time and debt-free. This academic year, the scholarship has made a difference for Iqra Mian, reducing the financial burden associated with obtaining a master's degree. Mian is a first-year student in the nurse practitioner program. "It mentally and physically allowed me to focus more of my time in my classes," she said.

Jabed Hossen is another scholarship recipient. "I appreciate this opportunity given to me by the Women's Club of Great Falls." Hossen said the award allowed him to concentrate more on his studies than on earning money. "It has tremendously helped me pay off my student loans," he said.

Sally Andrew-Pyne emphasized the recent growth achievements of the fund, including scholarships, endowments, the Early Identification Program, and fundraising efforts. The Women's Club of Great Falls Scholarship Fund's explosive growth could be attributed to its new mission, vision and strategic plan, she said.

"Our new spring event raised over $53,000 through corporate and individual sponsorships, thus allowing us to increase our individual scholarship giving to $2,500 from $1,500 and provide 14 scholarships, 11 directly from our fund and three from our endowments," Andrew-Pyne said.

She added that the George Mason University Early Identification Program is a new program to the fund's giving portfolio. It offers educational resources to middle and high school students who will be the first members of their families to attend college. Andrew-Pyne said a $10,000 check would be presented at the day's tea.

Fundraising efforts of 2022 exceeded those of the previous year.

"In memory of our dear friend and Scholarship Fund supporter, Holly Ann Kuga, who died tragically in 2021, the Scholarship Fund, along with the Kuga family and friends, raised over $34,000 to ensure her legacy would continue," she said. An endowment was established in Kuga's name. Through fundraising and the provision of scholarship support, the fund's mission will continue to pave educational pathways for Northern Virginia students," she said.

Nadia Rizvi is another 2022 award recipient. She is a Northern Virginia Community College student in the GMU Advance program. Rizvi said that with the assistance of the scholarship she could envision herself as a teacher working with students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the future.

The vice president of the board Lindsay G. Harper discussed the organization's strategic and succession plans with the grant-writing committee. "Part of our new strategic plan is to expand our giving, and while our fundraisers are an important component, we also recognize that grants can further assist us in our growth," said Harper. This is a decision that will not only allow the fund to assist more deserving students but will also help the board achieve its operational goals.

According to Harper, the fund formed a grant-writing committee and hired a consultant to carry out this task. Grant and events positions are slated for addition to the board. The fund has a succession plan for 2023, and the volunteer committee continues adding "talented women with new perspectives." 

"The board and committee are ready to take the fund to new heights... (including) plans to engage a part-time executive director to ensure the fund's continued success," Harper said.

Among the top corporate donors and individual sponsors were the 2022 Fall Tea Lily sponsors, Roald and Lauryn Nashi; Peony sponsors, Greg and Jenny Stephens; and the Lindsay and Adam Harper Family Foundation.