The strength of sisterhood: Five reasons why I love United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council

By Hollie Geitner, director of communications for Duquesne Light Company and member of United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council

Studies indicate that women are working longer hours, caring for their children more and sleeping less. These trends are not reversing. In fact, the 2019 American Time Use Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women are giving more of their time to others than ever before.

This is no surprise to the working women I know, but for a decent part of my career, I felt alone in this. I was the only working mom in my office with young children and to be honest, the struggle was very real. It became overwhelming at times and I wondered how everyone else seemed to manage it so flawlessly. What I didn’t know is that no one does

On my social channels, I saw working women in Pittsburgh networking, connecting and making a difference, and I wondered how I could do that as well, especially with the little time I had. I decided to reach out to United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) and was put in touch with another working mom and WLC member. We had coffee, and I instantly felt less alone and realized there is power in numbers.

I attended a few WLC events over the next few months, starting with the annual Wine Tasting. That spring, I became a member and got to experience how rewarding and fulfilling it is.

Here are five reasons why I love United Way’s WLC. If they sound selfish, they are intentionally worded that way. Because, ladies, sometimes we aren’t selfish enough. Doing things that make us feel good — that fill us up with hope and joy — makes us better leaders, moms, wives, partners and friends. It’s okay to do something for you.

1. I’m relieved. With every WLC event and activity, I feel relief. I’m relieved from the pressures of everyday living and free to enjoy the company of others who are managing through similar life and career challenges.

2. I’m valued and supported. I’m embarrassed to admit that for many years, I had the mindset that women were in competition with each other. With so few opportunities to go around, only the strong and confident made it. That’s not true at all. United Way’s WLC connects me with other like-minded women who uplift each other and want to have an impact on our community. Women supporting each other is what makes the world a better place. When we value one another in every way, we all win.

3. I’m worthy. Being surrounded by perfectly imperfect women who are willing to share their stories, lend a hand, or make a connection is powerful. Whether it’s serving a meal together at the Women’s Center and Shelter, sorting coats at North Hills Community Outreach, or sewing quilts for families in need, being a WLC member enables me to make a difference outside of my home.

4. I’m empowered. With the support of thousands of women, being a WLC member empowers me to do more, whether it’s joining a committee or nonprofit board, sharing my experiences, or encouraging other women to get involved.

5. I’m inspired. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that wave of emotional inspiration after hearing stories of women impacted by United for Women, WLC’s key initiative that offers short-term financial assistance to help local women avoid a crisis. These stories came from single moms, women who’ve lost their jobs, or those who’ve experienced the devastating end of a relationship. They had struggled. They were scared of how they were going to get through each day and they needed help. Listening to those stories reaffirmed why being a WLC member is so important.

The reality is, we are all one moment away from a completely different life. When women work together, we have a positive impact on our community and inspire others to do what they can to help those in need. That’s what life’s all about — doing the best we can with what we have.
If you want to experience the true spirit of United Way’s WLC, join us at the 15th annual Wine Tasting on March 19 at the Omni William Penn Hotel. All proceeds from the event will benefit United for Women. To learn more, visit