“The Bigger the Hat, the Bigger the Heart,” as they say at FestiGals at the inaugural “Hats Off” luncheon. Benefiting the Greater New Orleans American Heart Association, 350 gathered at Jung Hotel & Residences to tip off their hats to 15 extraordinary women for their professional accomplishments and contributions to the New Orleans community.

The honorees were: Meaghan Bonavita, Liz Broekman, Sandra Dartus, Essence Harris, Priscilla Lawrence, Mary Kathrine Lonatro-Tusa, Beverly Matheney, Brenda Melara, Mayra Pineda, Ingrid Rinck, Claudia Shabetai, Amy Sins, Lois Sutton, Gerri Valene and Jennifer Weishaupt. The keynote speaker was FestiGals Grand Diva Amanda Shaw. Amanda shared her story of success while growing up in the spotlight as she broke glass ceilings in the entertainment industry to become one of America’s favorite entertainers. She also premiered her latest music video for the song “How Lucky You Are” off her album Please, Call Me Miss Shaw. The album continues the artist’s efforts of expressing independence and female empowerment through her music. The playlist for the luncheon included upbeat and fun songs like Spice Girl’s “Wannabe” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Local news anchor and “Southern Charm New Orleans” “Bravolebrity” Tamica Lee moderated the event.

The signature FestiGals colors of pink and orange filled the room from the tablecloths, to the feathers, balloon arches and glitter. Fun and colorful hats of all shapes and sizes were abundant. The FestiFabulous vendor showcase was popular with all the women.

The lunch menu included delicious appetizers of caprese skewers and watermelon feta bites and the entrée was a 12 Seasons Shrimp Salad followed by a scrumptious Mint Chocolate Trio dessert. Wine was provided by HandCraft Artisan Collection.

Fidelity P.O.W.E.R. (Potential of Women Entrepreneurs Realized), designed to meet the unique needs of women in business throughout our region, was the Presenting Sponsor.

Following the “Celebrating Women’s Conference” and “Hats Off Luncheon” on Friday, the festivities continued all through the weekend emphasize the FestiGals’ mission to inspire, connect and celebrate women while supporting causes important to their well-being.

Event at a Glance

What: “Hats Off Awards Luncheon,” benefiting Festigals & the Greater New Orleans American Heart Association

When: Friday, June 21

Where: Jung Hotel & Residences

Philanthropic Fun: Hats With Heart

 Honoree Meaghan Bonavita, Keynote Speaker Mignon Francois, Honroee Sandra Dardis and Honoree Liz Broekman

 Philanthropic Fun: Hats With Heart

Stephanie Burks, Diane Lyons, Brittany Gay and Shawanda Poree