Two former honorees, Frances Fisher (2006) and Eileen Burns (2011), reprise their roles as co-chairs of the Women of Distinction luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 at The Breakers Palm Beach. Former event chairman Denise Hanley is honorary chair.
Tickets are sold out. Proceeds from the luncheon benefit a scholarship fund for deserving female students at the University.
Now in its 29th year, the luncheon is an annual event that honors women who have made significant contributions to the community. Previous honorees are Patricia Supper*, Rose Sachs*, Helen Ross, Carolyn Buckley, Anita Dubnoff*, Mary Schott*, Jean Feather*, Helen Persson*, Helen Cluett*, Anita Hamilton Michaels, Dorothy Schulman*, Nicki Harris, Hillie Mahoney, Patricia Cook, Kathryn Vecellio, Kit Pannill, Nancy Brinker, Pat Johnson, Jean Tailer*, Susan Keenan, Edie Schur, Maura Benjamin*, Sydelle Meyer, Lore Moran Dodge, Barbara Nicklaus, Alicia Blodgett, Julie Cummings, Diana Ecclestone, Frances Fisher, Helen DeVos*, Michele Kessler, Sydell Miller, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau*, Gay Hart Gaines, Vicki Halmos, Iris Apfel, Gail Austin Cooney, Eileen Corroon Burns, Suzanne Wright*, Joyce Sang, Sally Ross Soter, Gail Coniglio, Danielle Hickox Moore, Susie Elson, Nancy Murray, Sheila Fine, Joan Van der Grift, Cathy Flagg, Jane Grace, Emilia Fanjul, Darlene Jordan, Candy Carson and Bonnie McElveen Hunter. An asterisk denotes honorees who are deceased.
Frances Fisher has enjoyed a distinguished volunteer career, serving in numerous leadership positions for charitable organizations throughout Palm Beach County for more than 18 years. She is currently president of the board of trustees of the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens; vice president of the board of trustees for H.O.W. (Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper); member of the board of advisors for The LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University; and a trustee of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. She is active in the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches as an organizer of the annual Women in Leadership Awards and scholarship programs. Additionally, she is a committed volunteer with Impact 100 of the Palm Beaches and the International Women’s Forum.
Prior to joining the Palm Beach community, she served in the West Wing of the White House as special assistant to the Counsel for President George H.W. Bush and co-founded and directed the National Environmental Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Fisher is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she serves as a President’s Cabinet Member of the University of Alabama Center for the Performing Arts and Academics. She and her husband, Jeff, have one son, Harrison.
New York native Eileen Corroon Burns has lived in Palm Beach for more than 30 years. An ardent preservationist, Burns was the first woman and third recipient of the prestigious Ballinger Award in 1990 for her restoration of The Vicarage, the second oldest house in Palm Beach. She is also a longtime member of the special events committee at the Norton Museum of Art. An enduring supporter of Ambassador Nancy Brinker’s “Race for the Cure,” Burns co-founded “Wake Up For the Cure,” the annual breakfast event at Club Colette with Palm Beach residents Susan Keenan and daughter Samantha Fairchild Storkerson. Burns also supports a host of Ireland-based causes and organizations including the National Gallery and its advisory board, where she has served as a patron member for 20 years. She is also a longtime supporter of The American Ireland Fund. She is a special advisor to the “Brian P. Burns Collection” of Irish art, the largest collection of Irish art outside its home country. The collection spans works dating from 1840-1940, and aims to bring the work of contemporary Irish artists into the collection. Additionally, Burns is a special advisor to the Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College.
Active in civic affairs, Burns was one of the earliest members of the Palm Beach Crime Watch, a program that promotes citizen participation in crime prevention in the residential and business communities. For the past 10 years, Eileen and her husband, Brian, have funded the Police Department's highly regarded Teen Age Academy. Her involvement in the town's Crime Watch paved the way for her founding the annual sellout, The Policeman’s Ball at Mar-a-Lago. The proceeds underwrite a scholarship program for qualified children of the members of the department and fund a long list of emergency needs and other projects to nourish and sustain our outstanding Palm Beach Police Department.
Photo: Women of Distinction Co-Chairs Frances Fisher and Eileen Burns pose for a photograph during the 2019 luncheon at The Breakers Palm Beach.