Social Change Activist Marie Lemelle and Councilwoman Heather Hutt
(Valerie Vines photo)

The Cultural Inclusion Foundation (CIF) kicked off Women’s History Month with its inaugural event by honoring 40 high-profile women together on March 3 in Hollywood.

The award dinner’s theme, Celebrating Culturally Diverse Women “Making a Difference,“ highlighted the importance of embracing cultural diversity and supporting women empowerment.  Proceeds from the event benefits the National Alliance of Mental Illness Urban LA, a 501(c)3 organization.

“This culturally inclusive historic night honoring diverse women from the City, County and around the world gathered to be honored but more importantly elevating the call to support persons impacted by mental illness,” said Arlise Emerson, CIF president and co-founder. “All of the women are different, yet the common thread is they are all making a difference!”

The She Economy represents more than $7 Trillion annually to the economy. This trend is growing faster than any other demographic to include education, executives and CEOs. “An aggregate plan must be created to garner an ROI to this demographics,” said global economist and CIF presenter Dr. E. Lance McCarthy.

“Such aggregation includes connecting to all economic sectors to include political, tech, finance, international trade, sports, entertainment and nonprofits. This type of aggregation was accomplished at the Cultural Integration Foundation event.”

“Cultural inclusion and intersectionality are the foundation of a better community! This is the mission of Cultural Inclusion Foundation,” said Councilwoman Heather Hutt, the first woman to represent Council District 10, the only Black woman on the current City Council and only the third Black woman to serve on the Council in the history of the city.

“I’m honored to have received an award from the Cultural Inclusion Foundation with so many outstanding of women and I look forward to working with this amazing group.”

The capacity-filled room reflected the United Nations with honorees, history makers, trailblazers, and attendees from across the US, Iran, Sri Lanka, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Togo, Israel, Senegal, Armenia, Puerto Rico, South America, and Asia.

“It’s an honor to be acknowledged by the Cultural Inclusion Foundation, my esteemed peers, and to the women whether I know you or not, we belong to a unique group on this planet,” said Marie Lemelle, a social change advocate, entrepreneur and board member of the YWCA Glendale and Pasadena. “We all did not give up and that speaks volumes. We have our purpose and continue to rise above adversities.”

CIF cultivates a community of collaboration. “As a global PR professional, the most important honor is galvanizing our connections made during the awards to create a greater impact as a collective of skill sets,” said Lemelle, founder of Platinum Star PR. “I am proud of our unsung sheroes but even more proud of our collaboration empowerment agenda beyond the awards.”

CIF’s mission includes the fight to improve lives affected by mental illness and supports NAMI Urban Los Angeles that was founded in 2003. It is the urban affiliate of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to educating, advocating, supporting, and building better lives for the millions of individuals & families affected by mental illness.

“Honoring the prominence of women at the first Cultural Inclusion Foundation event epitomizes International Women’s Month, a global celebration of economic, political, and social achievements of women observed annually in March,” said Richard A. Hanner, Sr., CIF co-founder and vice president.

“We applaud and acknowledge their tireless work and outstanding accomplishments in support of our collective fight to improve the quality of life for persons affected by mental illness in the respective communities they serve and worldwide.”

To view the complete list of CIF honorees, visit