By: Lorrie Ward Jackson | Category: Special Interest | Issue: September 2011
Pat Simmons, president of the board of Dress for Success Tulsa, and Ronda Adkisson, executive director.
This year, Dress for Success Tulsa celebrates “A Decade of Making a Difference” – which is why they have attached that slogan to their annual fashion show and auction, “Step Up to Success.” The event will be held Friday, September 16 at the Greenwood Cultural Center at 322 N. Greenwood in Tulsa. Pat Simmons, board president of Dress for Success Tulsa, began volunteering for the organization shortly after it was founded. She hopes this year’s event will surpass the other spectacular shows in past years. “This fashion show is our major fundraiser for the year,” she says.
Executive Director Ronda Adkisson agrees, adding, “Even though Dress for Success is part of a worldwide program, each chapter is 100 percent responsible for raising and maintaining its own funds. This truly is the most critical event of the year for us.”
The evening begins with a social hour at 6:30 p.m. in the spacious and beautifully decorated Greenwood Cultural Center, with hors d’oeuvres, wine and entertainment. Chef Mark Michalski will again coordinate the meal, which includes selections from several Tulsa restaurants. Later in the evening, guests will have a chance to bid on auction items including several luxury vacations and packages from nearly every imaginable type of business: spas, golf courses, sports and entertainment, hotels and restaurants. Pat’s husband, builder Greg Simmons, will return as auctioneer, incorporating his usual flair and wit into the process.
Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide, will be the evening’s keynote speaker. Joi is a Bishop Kelley graduate and went on to obtain her bachelor of arts in radio/television at OU and her juries’ doctorate from the OU College of Law.
FOX23’s Chera Kimiko will serve as the emcee for the fashion show. Former Tulsa mayor Kathy Taylor has agreed to grace the runway, along with others who will model fashions, accessories, and styles provided by Dillard’s at Woodland Hills Mall and Ihloff Hair Salon.
The tenth anniversary gives both Pat and Ronda a chance to look back at the successes and growth of Tulsa’s chapter of Dress for Success. “It started out in a 400-square-foot basement and has now transitioned to its current location,” says Pat. Ronda, who knew Pat when they both worked in the title business and came to work at Dress for Success in 2008, is amazed at the number of women they are able to help. “Since this chapter’s inception, we have helped over 7,700 women,” Ronda says. “And in 2010, we helped 1,350 women dress for success.”
The organization provides professional business attire for disadvantaged women to help them make a good impression as they seek employment. Each woman is provided with a suit for a job interview, and if she obtains employment, she is eligible for enough clothing to build a professional wardrobe. Volunteer personal shoppers are available each day to assist the women, who are referred by over 100 Community Partner agencies which include domestic violence shelters, educational institutions, homeless shelters, government agencies and many other agencies dedicated to helping disadvantaged women.
Quality clothing, shoes, and accessory donations are welcome from individuals or organizations, and are received by appointment at the Dress for Success Tulsa location or can be dropped off at either Talbot’s location in Tulsa (Woodland Hills Mall or Utica Square). Monetary donations are always welcome as well. The organization has also recently received a grant from Walmart, which is a great boost toward fulfilling the mission of Dress for Success Tulsa: “The suits symbolize our faith in every woman’s ability to succeed.”
For individual tickets or corporate sponsorship information, contact Ronda Adkisson at (918) 599-8892 or eat1@eau1eav1eaw1.