February 1, 2011

Celebration of Women Mentoring Women Luncheon to be Held Feb. 25

Annual event is fundraiser for Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker program

Three Nashville community leaders will be honored at the fourth annual Celebration of Women Mentoring Women on Friday, Feb. 25, 11:30 a.m. at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

Proceeds from the event will support Vanderbilt University’s Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW) program, which is built on the principles of empowering women from low income households to gain confidence, self-sufficiency, and access to health and social services.

“It is fitting that we honor women in our community who purposefully demonstrate MIHOW’s philosophy in their careers and daily lives,” said Tonya Elkins, director of MIHOW

This year’s honorees:

Mahalia Howard, the executive director of Grace M. Eaton Childcare and Early Learning Center, a North Nashville center dedicated to low income working families. Under Howard’s leadership, the facility has developed into a 3-Star center, the highest rating given by the State of Tennessee. Today, 85 percent of the children at the center are entering Metro Nashville kindergarten at or above an appropriate reading, compared to 40 percent before she came to the center. Howard is a mentor to young women, encouraging them to graduate from high school and pursue higher education.

Minda Lazarov served as director of MIHOW from 1998 to 2006. During that time, she expanded the MIHOW program to serve more rural, isolated, and low income areas; developed the current accreditation process and mentored site workers across the Southeast. She has been a trailblazer for the health of mothers and infants through her leadership and dedication to a number of programs, including the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), UNICEF, and Wellstart International. Lazarov is writing a book about her life, which includes being diagnosed with cancer, first at age 15, and the lessons she has drawn from her experiences.

Candy Markman is an advocate for people needing to make good choices, whether they be incarcerated individuals ready to make a fresh start, or middle school-aged children, who are beginning to make important life decisions. In 1974, originating from the Vanderbilt Prison Project, Markman helped start the Nashville Dismas House, a transitional home supporting the reconciliation of prisoners to society through connections to students and community volunteers. In 1985 she launched Better Decisions, a life skills program for incarcerated women. Markman now serves as the planning director for Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s after-school initiatives. She is launching the Nashville After Zone Alliance which seeks to provide high quality after-school programs for middle school youth.

Individual tickets to the MIHOW Celebration of Women Mentoring Women are $60 each or $600 for a table of 10. To purchase tickets, call Robin Baskin at 292-4674 or visit www.mihow.org and print the registration form.