15th Annual Grande Dames Tea raises record $155,000 to benefit Pace Center for Girls in Lee County

The 15th Annual Grande Dames Tea has raised a record $155,000 in support of programs for Pace Center for Girls, Lee. Presented by B. Pat O’Rourke, the sold-out celebration was held April 4 at Broadway Palm and honored three local women – Rose Govan, Sunny Lubner and Debbie Prather – for their significant impact on the community.

“For our 15th anniversary of Grande Dames Tea, we had the honor of recognizing Rose, Sunny and Debbie and hearing their remarkable stories of strength, courage and resilience,” said Jennifer Cellitti, executive director of Pace Center for Girls, Lee. “This year, we were blown away by the many giving hearts of our community, who helped us raise more than double the donations we’ve seen from previous years. These critical funds will help ensure our girls at Pace become strong, productive young women and lead a life defined by responsibility, dignity, serenity and grace.”

Pace’s annual Grande Dames Tea honors women who exemplify the organization’s guiding principles and have made an impact through their roles in business, community and philanthropy. A highlight of the inspirational program was when Govan, Lubner and Prather shared their wisdom from overcoming life obstacles during a Q&A session led by young women of Pace. A special performance by the Pace girls was also showcased during the event.

Proceeds from the event will support Pace Lee in providing girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy. Programs are based on the belief that all girls and young women, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, should be uniquely cared for, supported and encouraged to become the best versions of themselves through a path of healing and recovery.

The Grande Dames Tea was chaired by Kelly Fayer along with co-chair Kellie Urban and honorary co-chair Gail Markham. B. Pat O’Rourke was the presenting sponsor of the event in honor of his mother, Helen O’Rourke McClary, a 2013 Grand Dame. Edison National Bank/Bank of the Islands were golden teacup sponsors. Alexandra Bremner, Ed & Connie Lizak, FineMark National Bank & Trust and Grande Dame Naomi Bloom were silver teacup sponsors. Creighton Construction & Development, Golden Rind Cheese & Wine and The Law Office of Kelly L. Fayer, P.A. were fascinator sponsors. Boy Agnew Potanovic & Miller, California Closets, FGCU Foundation, Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt, P.A., Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral, Land Rover of Fort Myers, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Company, P.A., Offshore Sailing School and Valerie’s House were 15th anniversary sponsors. Mark Loren Designs created the beautifully designed Grande Dames pins for this year’s honorees. Priority Marketing was the public relations sponsor and Naples Daily News/LocaliQ was the media sponsor. In-kind sponsors included Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Caloosa Tent & Rental, Jason’s Deli, LadyCakes Bakery, Ruth Messmer Florist and Palm Printing. Annual sponsors include Lee Health, Mike and Susan Kyle, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank and Seminole Casino Hotel.

To learn more about Pace, Lee and its programs, visit www.PaceCenter.org/Locations/Lee or call 239-425-2366.

About Pace Center for Girls, Lee

Pace Center for Girls, Lee, envisions a world where all girls and young women have power, in a just and equitable society. Founded in 1985, Pace provides free year-round middle and high school academics, case management, counseling, and life skills development in a safe and supportive environment that recognizes and deals with past trauma and builds upon girls’ individual strengths. Dedicated to meeting the social, emotional, and education needs of girls, Pace has a successful and proven program model that has changed the life trajectory of more than 40,000 girls and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for girls in need. For more information on Pace Center for Girls, Lee, call 239-425-2366 or visit

This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.