During Women’s History Month, The Fund for Women and Girls has proudly announced Loretta Perna as the 12th winner of the Kitchen Table Award. Loretta will accept the award at The Fund’s 18th Annual Making a Difference Luncheon fundraiser on Friday, May 5, 2023, at The Desmond Hotel in Malvern.
The Fund established the Kitchen Table Award in 2011 to honor a Chester County woman who has made substantive contributions through service and philanthropy to improve the lives of women and girls through her own time, talent or resources. It is named in celebration of the genesis of The Fund in 1996: the many conversations held around kitchen, board and coffee tables about what could be done to address the needs of local women and girls.
Loretta Perna has worked tirelessly for two decades to motivate, equip, and transition high school students to post-secondary education and adulthood. Through the Walk In kNowledge (WIN) program, Loretta provides extra support to students at Kennett High School (KHS), which enables them to perform their best academically, become more involved in their school and community, and prepare for their futures.
Loretta works primarily with students from the Latinx community in Kennett Square. For many of these students English is not their first language and they may be unfamiliar with how to navigate the college admissions process. Through WIN, Loretta prepares these young individuals for college and provides them with the confidence and leadership skills needed to thrive.
“Ms. Perna has helped us so much as we’ve grown as individuals and leaders. She supports us with our skills, including public speaking. I would not be able to do this without her,” said KHS Junior Jenny Castano-Cordoba.
A critical component of Loretta’s success is the mentorship she gives to all of the students she works with, but especially to Latina girls. Loretta builds strong, trusting relationships with the girls and their families, guiding them through the college application process and into their post-secondary education.
“Even though she has fifty students in her program, Ms. Perna makes sure everyone knows how special they are. She is always there for everyone no matter how busy her schedule is,” added Jarleny Aguilar-Acuna, also a KHS Junior.
Since its inception in 2007, the WIN program has seen its participants go on to become lawyers, nurses, social workers, dental hygienists, financial advisors, HR personnel, software engineers, technology consultants, city planners, artists, architects, entrepreneurs, government administrators, graphic designers, and even FBI agents. Loretta celebrates the accomplishments of her students with a deep conviction that anything is possible with a little guidance, a lot of hard work, and a creative outlook.
In the words of one of her nominators, Kirstin Proto, “As a one-woman army, Ms. Perna’s work does not often get attention. As it is for many women of color, her work is essential to the success of our world, but is invisible to many who receive the benefits. Those who know her are in awe of her stamina and grace.”
The Fund for Women and Girls is thrilled to celebrate and uplift the accomplishments of Loretta Perna. She is an incredible advocate for girls and all young people in our Chester County community.
Loretta will receive the Kitchen Table Award at The Fund’s 18th Annual Making a Difference Luncheon fundraiser on Friday, May 5 at The Desmond in Malvern, a ticketed fundraiser with an inspirational speaker that is open to the public.
The Fund for Women and Girls: Igniting Change in Chester County leads and unites the community through philanthropy and advocacy to ensure that women and girls have resources and opportunities to thrive. To date, The Fund has directed over $4 million to 86 non-profit organizations to strategically address persisting needs, including homelessness, domestic violence and women’s health. It released its “2022 Blueprint Report: Lighting a Path” a deep dive research report on the state of women and girls in Chester County, in September 2022, which is available at www.thefundcc.org/research. Learn more at www.thefundcc.org.