Society: Rhonda Walker honors men who empower women

Chuck Bennett
News anchor Rhonda Walker, center, with honorees Leon Richardson, from far left, Matthew Simoncini, Burt Jordan, and Hiram Jackson.

WDIV-TV morning news anchor Rhonda Walker hosted a lavish and insightful brunch at Motor City Casino’s Soundboard on Sunday that benefited her eponymous foundation for girls.

Some 400 guests noshed on made-to-order omelets, chicken, salmon, beef and endless mimosas amidst teams of lovely girls from the Rhonda Walker Foundation (past and present), who were on hand hosting, selling raffle tickets and perfectly displaying many of the model life lessons learned under the foundation’s tutelage.

The event was the 10th annual Rhonda Walker Foundation Moving With Success Empowerment Brunch. In years past, the organization has honored powerful women of purpose at this gathering, but this year, it was all about the guys (creatively expressed with centerpieces that were men’s shirts and ties), honoring “Men Who Empower Women.”

With First Merit Bank CEO Sandy Pierce as mistress of ceremony, nine men who are prominent pillars in our community were saluted: Art Van Elslander, Roy Roberts, Leon Richardson, Hiram Jackson, William Pickard, Burt Jordan, Daniel Loepp, Matthew Simoncini and Carl Camden.

All revenue from the Moving with Success Empowerment Brunch will benefit the Rhonda Walker Foundation core five-year Girls into Women program that empowers inner-city teen girls towards becoming strong, confident, successful and moral future leaders. Tickets to the event were $150.

Bill Seklar, president and CEO of The Community House, enjoys the event with Rob Farr, president of Bank of Birmingham.

SIP at Community House

The Community House in Birmingham hosted a spectacular party Saturday night called SIP, teaming a magnificent lineup of small plate stations presented by Michigan restaurants, innovative craft cocktail pairings, a live auction and exceptional entertainment from crooner Ben Sharkey.

The evening began with a VIP champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by the amazing strolling small plate and craft cocktail pairings, coordinated by noted wine connoisseur Ron Edwards. There were eight featured restaurants, including The Bird & The Bread, Prime 29 Steakhouse, Slow’s Bar BQ and Streetside Seafood. A crowd favorite was from Au Cochon — Baba du Rhum, crème anglaise and banana, paired with Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum Bajan Tropical Tea.

Also included were passed desserts, a live auction, and an “After Hours Remy Night Cap” served on the second floor suites. Tickets to the event, which was sponsored by Bank of Birmingham, were $250 general admission and $350 for patrons. Proceeds will benefit children and adults served by the Community House. The Community House is a 93-year old nonprofit organization that impacts lives through educational, social and outreach experiences.

Chuck Bennett is the creator of The Social Metro. Visit