Last month, the United Way of Westchester and Putnam hosted its annual and virtual Women’s Leadership Council “Take a Walk in Her Shoes” event. Taryn Duffy, Vice President of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts was recognized as its 2021 “Woman of Distinction” for her commitment to and strong advocacy for the empowerment of women.

In addition to her role at Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts, Duffy serves as Chair of the New York Gaming Association, the trade organization for racing and gaming venues throughout New York State and has a long history in the public relations and political arenas. She is also a member of multiple boards including ArtsWestchester, The Business Council of Westchester, and the Yonkers Workforce Development Board.

Duffy is a strong proponent of the important of volunteer service and mentoring women in their careers, having often shared her perspective as a panelist, speaking on nonprofit advocacy and development, women in business, and career development.

“We applaud Taryn’s tenacity and her passionate voice and she continues to promote gender equality for women and using their own voices to make change,” United Way’s Chief Development Office Margaret Tramontine says of United Way’s 2021 Woman of Distinction awardee. “We also know how very committed Taryn is to the hundreds of employees at Empire City through these challenging times. We are proud to honor her!”

At this virtual event, United Way presented a panel of distinguished women leaders in the healthcare sector who have been leading the charge in the community’s ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic including Dr. Sherlita Amler, Westchester County’s Commissioner of Health, Judith Watson, CEO of Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, Stacey Petrower, President of NYP Hudson Valley Hospital, and Dr. Laurie Ann Walsh, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at NYP Lawrence Hospital. Each panelist shared their personal journeys as public health leaders and how they worked in the midst of crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest crisis that I’ve ever been confronted with, both as a physician and as a public health leader,” Dr. Amler said. “In dealing with the pandemic, the most difficult aspect of that has been uncertainty, not knowing what to expect tomorrow really impedes and robs us of our ability to plan. I think by placing one foot in front of the other and working to get to a place where we can start planning again, is what I would suggest to people.”

Funds raised support United Way’s mission of helping the 40% of households in the Westchester and Putnam communities defined as poverty or ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed), including 71% of single, female-headed households considered most likely to be ALICE. Pre-pandemic, this hard-working demographic struggled daily with financial hardship.

“People become a member of the ALICE population without even really knowing how they got there. Too often, it’s a result of trauma, pain, and struggle,” awardee Duffy states of her United Way’s work with the ALICE population. “United Way provides hope and light to so many people. I want to thank the entire team at United Way for this recognition, but more importantly, for their unending selflessness and the work that they do day in and day out to help so many and change lives for the better.”

The WLC Committee members included Leslie Lampert, Owner of Ladle of Love, and Bernadette Schopfer of Maier, Markey & Justic, LLP. The event was generously sponsored by Con Edison; Transamerica; IBM; M&T Bank; NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley and Lawrence Hospitals; PURE Insurance; Maier Markey & Justic; and Thompson & Bender. Food and wine was provided by Ladle of Love, Leonard Park Wines & Spirits, and il Forno Bakery. A recording of the event can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5vM9tlRKQc.