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Orlando Female Philanthropists & Their Contributions

I was blessed to meet four wonderful Orlando female philanthropists whose stewardship efforts were rewarded at the annual National Philanthropy Day. These are the stories of how they came to realize that giving is more important than receiving.  Our life is a non-stop cycle of earning, receiving, and giving. We gain experience and skills to further put them into something valuable for us and the community alike. The support we get from the people around us becomes fertile soil to grow the fruits of our labor and give them back to society. Each year we celebrate innovators, ground-breakers, and risk-takers who invest in commendable projects to make our lives better.  



How Did These Orlando Female Philanthropist Get Their Start


As a photographer, I enjoy taking an active role in the community. I make my own humble contribution to its well-being with charity photo projects. Also, as a business owner, I attend The Orlando Women ‘Conference, an annual venue for women who shape the city’s business landscape. Not only is it a storehouse of useful information but also a relationship bonding event. It was at this conference that I met Christi Ashby, the founder of the Orange Appeal magazine.


This year, Christi reached out to me with a suggestion to take photographs for the cover story. It talked about the 2019 National Philanthropy Day and the four wonderful women it honored. How could I turn down a chance to meet the people I admire? Of course, I said ‘yes!’


Our small team – me, the make-up artist, and assistants, on the one hand, and my beautiful models, on the other hand, flocked to Aloft hotel. Located in Orlando’s downtown, it is a perfect place for cozy and atmospheric sessions. Its vibrant interior lending soft enveloping light became a spot-on backdrop for lush artistic photographs. Plus, our four unique and fascinating heroines injected even more color to the pictures. Smiling at us from the cover and spread of the Orange Appeal magazine, these amazing women inspire to do good deeds. Here are the heartwarming stories of the Orlando female philanthropists I was fortunate to meet.


Orlando Female Philanthropists: The A-List

RK Kelley, Entertainment Business Executor with a Big Heart

A former Walt Disney executive realized the importance of giving back to the community in her early childhood. As a volunteer herself, she passed this habit on to her children. RK encourages women (and men, too) to invest their time and talents in something they are passionate about. However, this is only the first step. Having rightly noted that women like no one else feel social injustice, she is confident that the solution to these issues is in our hands.


RK gave her support to the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra to help expand its music outreach programs. They provide entertainment for deprived people as well as visit children at hospitals to prove that art and music, in particular, can heal the body and soul. For her altruistic initiatives for The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra as well as Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, RK Kelley became the laureate of the National Philanthropy Day Award.

Avani Desai, Strategic Philanthropist

With the background in technology, security, and cryptocurrency fields, Avani is passionate about strategic philanthropy. She is one of the board members of Arnold Palmer Medical Center and the Central Florida Foundation. On top of that, she is the co-chair of 100 Women Strong, a venture capitalist dedicated to solving community-wide issues specific to women and children. 


Avani believes that philanthropy is the force that helps transform the community into the better version of itself. It doesn’t take much effort to change someone’s life to better. The woman proves it with her own example – she is a dedicated hospital volunteer. She even taught her 8-year son to help others. Thanks to her strategic philanthropy approach, Avani is confident that she can change the lives of not only women but also the further generations and entire communities they live in. 


Krista Ledden, Improves Welfare through Dance

Krista is one of those Orlando female philanthropists who transform everything they touch. During the period of her membership at the Orlando Ballet board, she was able to double donations to the United Arts Collaborative Campaign. Since 2014, she donated more than $2 million to Orlando Ballet, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando Science Center, and many other organizations in Central Florida. 


However, philanthropy for this amazing professional dancer is more than signing a check. She gives her time, treasure, and talent to enrich the community of Orlando and make people’s lives better. She is the mastermind behind the expansion of recreational dance. Krista also introduced the trademark BeMoved dance and fitness techniques for dancers of every level and age. 


Josie Nejame, Full-Time Humanitarian

For more than 20 years, Josie and her husband Mark have been donating to multiple charities. The list includes Shepherd’s Hope, the Heart Fund Ball, Hope & Help, the American Cancer Society, and dozens of other organizations. A decade ago, the spouses started Runway to Hope that helps children fight cancer. The greatest motivator for Josie is her mother who taught her to listen to her heart, as well as her daughter. In everything she does, she keeps further generations in mind. She intends to make Florida a better home for her daughter and everyone else. 


“To whom much is given, much is expected’ – this is the motto of this inspiring woman. She was blessed to live in a free country, with a roof over her head, and all the basic necessities at her disposal. However, Josie realizes that not everyone is lucky to have the same fulfilling lives. Therefore, she is keen on dedicating her time and energy to help the ones who need it the most. 


You Can Become One of Orlando Female Philanthropists

No, you don’t have to be rich or influential to give to human causes. Philanthropy is not only about money. You can start with little – invest your time and skills, raise awareness about social issues, and inspire others to join commendable initiatives. If we all contribute, our beautiful state will become the happiest place to live. Start giving back to society today and maybe tomorrow, you’ll be honored as one of exceptional Orlando female philanthropists, too.


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