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After two years of celebrating virtually, The Village for Families & Children’s annual Girl Within event returned in person and with full force on Friday to raise one of the event’s largest-ever totals to support life-changing services for women and girls affected by trauma and other life challenges.

Nearly 400 guests attended to hear inspiring stories from Village clients who have overcome adversities, as well as this year’s honorees.

The Village honored Jennifer Steadman, Executive Director for the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation, as the 2022 Girl Within Woman of the Year in honor of her fierce advocacy for women and girls in Greater Hartford. As Executive Director for The Aurora Foundation, Steadman has produced cutting-edge research, fused vital partnerships and championed numerous economic mobility efforts to advance opportunities for women and girls across the region.

(L-R) Village President & CEO Galo Rodriguez; 2022 Girl Within Woman of the Year and Aurora Women and Girls Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Steadman; 2022 Young Woman of the Year Shaniece Nugent; Channel 3 Eyewitness News Morning Anchor and Girl Within emcee Irene O’Connor.

“We call this event the Girl Within because what happens in our early lives shapes our development in powerful and long-lasting ways, both positive and negative,” said Village President and CEO Galo Rodriguez. “That’s why we are honored to recognize Jennifer Steadman as our 2022 Woman of the Year for her extraordinary leadership, advocacy and dedication, which has created opportunities that are transforming the lives of so many women and girls in our region.”

Local leader Shaniece Nugent was honored as the 2022 Young Woman of the Year in recognition of her stellar fundraising efforts, which provide 30,000 meals annually to aid vulnerable populations facing food insecurity. She also co-founded an organization that educates her community on injustices impacting communities of color.

Past honorees of the Woman of the Year award include social justice advocates, environmental activists, philanthropists, non-profit and business leaders, actors and volunteers, including Paula S. Gilberto, Dr. Estela López, Linda Carlson Hart and others.

Proceeds from Girl Within support a range of services at The Village that help women and girls to heal and build resilience, confidence and independence. Now in its twenty-second year, Girl Within is The Village’s largest fundraiser and has raised more than $1.6 million since its inception.

The Hartford was the presenting sponsor for the event for the tenth consecutive year.

Other top sponsors included gold sponsors Cigna, Fairview Capitol; silver sponsors All Waste Inc., Arbella Insurance Foundation, Eastern Connecticut State University, David & Jane Golino, Liberty Bank, Max Cares Foundation, Inc.; bronze sponsors Aspen Insurance Group, Beth & Kevin Grenham, Chubb, CohnReznick, Ernst & Young LLP, Gowrie Group, Hartford Federal Credit Union, KPMG LLP, Raytheon Technologies, Robinson & Cole LLP, Rossmore Capital, Smith Brothers Insurance, Webster Bank; and patron sponsors Aurora Women and Girls Foundation, Connecticut Health Foundation, Beth & Rick Costello, Craig & Lori Cottrell, Rosemary Lombardo and Jennifer & Tim Steadman.

To learn more about the event and its impact visit


Sarah Thompson, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications,
The Village for Families & Children (c) 860-751-4179,


About The Village
The Village for Families & Children was one of the first agencies in the country to provide homes for neglected children. Today, The Village provides a full range of behavioral health, early and childhood youth development, substance use treatment, and support services for children, families and adults in the Greater Hartford region. Learn more at