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Aurora Foundation Breakfast Will Support Women’s Education

Melanie Valdes will be honored as Young Philanthropist at the Aurora Foundation's 11th annual Breakfast on Oct. 28, 2016. Submitted photo
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Aurora Women and Girls Foundation, which has its headquarters in West Hartford, will feature a nationally-known journalist as keynote speaker and will also honor local philanthropists.

Melanie Valdes will be honored as Young Philanthropist at the Aurora Foundation's 11th annual Breakfast on Oct. 28, 2016. Submitted photo

Melanie Valdes will be honored as Young Philanthropist at the Aurora Foundation’s 11th annual Breakfast on Oct. 28, 2016. Submitted photo


The Aurora Women and Girls Foundation will present its 11th annual Signature Breakfast, Investing in Women’s Education, on Oct. 28, 2016, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Hartford Marriott Downtown. The fundraiser features guest speaker Angela Burt-Murray, the co-founder of Cocoa Media Group and the former Editor-in-Chief of Essence Magazine.

Life long teacher and Academic Advisor, Louise Loomis, Ed.D, will be recognized and honored as Aurora’s 2016 Woman Philanthropist of the Year. Melanie Valdes, a senior at Two Rivers Magnet High School and a Girl Scout Silver and Gold Award recipient, will be named Aurora’s 2016 Young Philanthropist of the Year.

The goal is to raise $100,000 at this, Aurora’s 11th annual Investing in Women’s Education Breakfast. All net proceeds from the Breakfast will be distributed back to the Greater Hartford region in community initiatives in 2017.

Please visit the website, www.aurorafoundation.org for ticket purchases.

About 2016 Keynote Speaker Angela Burt-Murray; Journalist, Author, Producer:

Angela Burt-Murray. Submitted photo

Angela Burt-Murray is the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Aurora Foundation Breakfast. Submitted photo

Ms. Burt-Murray is the co-founder of Cocoa Media Group, a digital media company that creates original video series and fashion, beauty and lifestyle content for young women of color. She is also the former Editor-in-Chief of Essence Magazine. While at Essence Magazine, Burt-Murray oversaw the editorial direction, as well as Essence.com, the leading online destination to serve the African-American audience. During that time, from 2005-2010, she increased the magazine’s circulation by 20 percent.

Prior to Essence, Burt-Murray served as executive editor of Teen People and Honey magazines. She is also the co-author of the novel, The Vow (HarperCollins/Amistad) that has been optioned by actress Gabrielle Union. Burt-Murray was featured as one of the “40 Under 40” by Crain’s New York Business, and has appeared regularly on CNN, The Steve Harvey Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show and MSNBC. A graduate of Hampton University, she resides in Atlanta with her husband and their two children.

About 2016 Woman Philanthropist Louise Loomis:

Louise Loomis will be honored as the Aurora Foundation's Women's Philanthropist. Submitted photo

Louise Loomis will be honored as the Aurora Foundation’s Women’s Philanthropist. Submitted photo

Louise Loomis, Ed. D. is the principle member of ThinkWell Center, LLC and volunteers at Trinity Academy as a teacher of Special Topics and as an Academic Advisor. Her focus is to enhance Critical and Creative Thinking in students with academic infusion. Dr. Loomis taught science at Weaver High School and used critical and creative thinking with her students. After she retired, she went back to college for her doctorate in Creative Education at the University of Massachusetts.

In 1989, Dr. Loomis founded the New England Cognitive Center, a non-profit that allowed her to work with learners of all ages. She taught for over 20 years at Hartford College for Women, the University of Hartford and Goodwin College. Now retired, Loomis works as a mentor, teacher and curriculum developer at ThinkWell, which she founded in 2011.

She graduated from Bryn Mawr College and received a Master’s Degree in Urban Education from the University of Hartford. 

About 2016 Young Philanthropist Melanie Valdes:

Melanie Valdes, a senior at Two Rivers Magnet High school is committed and passionate about making sure special education students are included in all music programs at school. Melanie was a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award and chose Unify Music and Movement as her project. She saw a need in her East Hartford elementary school to include special needs children in the music program and performances.

Melanie designed a music program at O’Connell Elementary School to give these children an opportunity to perform in musical productions; for the first time. She wrote the music and organized the concerts, which were appreciated by the entire school.

Melanie did not stop there. She arranged a meeting with East Hartford’s Superintendent to present her proposal for system-wide inclusion of all special needs students.

About Aurora:

The mission of the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation is to be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of women and girls in Greater Hartford. Created in 2000, Aurora is Connecticut’s only freestanding foundation focused exclusively on women and girls, engaged in strategic grant making that supports and empowers women and girls of all ages.

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