Being the largest city by square miles in the country brings a lot of challenges to Jacksonville. As the city continues to define its decades-old mantra of, “The Bold New City of the South,” there is a growing network of individuals relocating to North Florida with fresh new ideas on how to make our community greater as a whole. One such person leading the way for positive change, especially among women, is Donna Orender.
The former commissioner of the WNBA and long-time PGA TOUR executive, Orender spent a great deal of time in the city that never sleeps as a graduate of Queens College in New York. It’s in these past-life experiences, serving a variety of leadership roles, that led to Orender founding GENERATION W, a brand focused on educating, inspiring and connecting women and girls all over the First Coast.
“There is a growing energy and vibrancy that is bubbling in our region. Can you feel it? I can. As we continue to be ‘discovered’ as a destination for so many accomplished and interesting people from across the country, the melding of ideas and new energy is palpable and vital. The ability to guide this energy and this positivity in a more unified direction, would be most helpful. To understand what our collective vision is and move toward that in a manner with clarity and focus, would benefit us all,” Orender said about the culture in North Florida.
It was through this diverse culture of ideas that Orender got the idea to start GENERATION W:
“It was with the belief in the magic of people coming together, especially women, that magic happens. I was invited to the Governor’s Wife’s women’s event in California, (at the time it was Maria Shriver, who is an inspiration for this work) and as I looked around at all of the women, I thought of how special the women were in our part of the world and perhaps it was time to explore how we could come together as a community to elevate women’s voices and their platforms. We all know when you compete, you want the benefit of the best of all your talent on your team. There is so much talent here in Northeast Florida, and we have a bright future if we understand and access the incredible strengths and abilities that women here can offer.”
The inaugural GENERATION W event, dubbed “GENERATION WOW,” was held in April of 2012, to a crowd of over 700 attendees and 25 national speakers with the goal of bringing women together to talk about making positive changes in our community. But a new program aims to take those curated conversations and turn it into action with GENERATION WORKS.
On February 7, at Unity Plaza in downtown Jacksonville, hundreds of volunteers will gather for the first GENERATION WORKS event to “wield weapons of mass construction.” Whether it’s painting the hallways of an under-funded school, planting a garden in the urban core or building a house for a family in our community, the volunteer event organized and led by women hopes to prove how powerful they can be when pooling their resources.
Local companies are also taking part. Deutsche Bank, the presenting partner, CIT, Florida Blue, Interline Brands, Stein Mart, UNF, United Way, Wells Fargo, WJCT, Winn-Dixie and WGA are just a few of the companies participating through donated resources and volunteers.
If the event doesn’t sound inspiring to you yet, the mission behind Orender’s vision of GEN W should:
“I have always been focused on making a difference and doing the kind of work that makes a positive impact in people’s lives. For me that was, and still, remains the fundamental motivation for living a purposeful life.”
“GENERATION W is truly about people. Beginning with women and accessing the inner strength, power and capacity to create the world of justice, productivity, innovation and caring that we want to see.”
If you’d like to get involved with GENERATION WORKS, be sure to visit genwnow.com to find out how you can weild your own weapon of mass construction to positively affect the North Florida community.