Aurora's Luminary Luncheon

Friday, November 1, 2019

11:30-1:30 p.m., Hartford Marriott Downtown

Sleep in….because Aurora’s Annual Breakfast event will now be a luncheon!  Aurora’s Luminary Luncheon is the Aurora Foundation’s primary fundraiser. Net proceeds will support Aurora’s community investments, focused on women’s college success programs, enabling more women in the Greater Hartford region to earn a college degree.


Purchase Tickets 






Keynote Speaker ~ Minda Harts

Minda Harts is the founder of The Memo LLC, a career development company, and author of the soon to be released book “The Memo,” a career advice guide best described as the “Lean In” for women of color.  Minda hosts a weekly podcast called “Secure the Seat” and has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Fast Company.  In 2016, Minda was nominated as a Change Maker at The White House State of Women Summit.


Philanthropist of the Year

Francine Austin, Business Owner and Community Philanthropist

Francine Austin is a visionary, entrepreneur and philanthropist who is dedicated to mentorship and volunteerism in the Greater Hartford community.  As the Founder and President of F.E.M- Francine Entertainment and Marketing, she has utilized her communications and marketing expertise to assist with a number of successful fundraisers including the Walter “Doc” Hurley Legacy Scholarship Weekend and “Becoming” Book Talk production at the Wadsworth Atheneum. In 2018, Francine launched and hosted A Giver’s Heart – An Evening of Philanthropy at the Bushnell.  As the proud owner of Francine’s Salon and Day Spa for over 20 years, she has leveraged her connections in the business community to promote community investment and community engagement. Francine sits on several non-profit and government boards and has received a number of awards for her contributions to the community. Her volunteer work includes the YMCA’s Y Achievers, Ambassador for Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s Black Giving Circle, Hartford Youth Scholars and the Farmington Valley Chapter of the Links, Inc.  Francine is also an active member of Hopewell Baptist Church where she sings in the Sanctuary Choir.


Young Philanthropist of the Year

Sanmati Choudhary, Farmington High School

Sanmati Choudhary, a senior at Farmington High School, is leading the way in her community to close the gender gap in the field of computer science. From an early age, Sanmati developed a love for STEM and a passion for creating educational opportunities for young girls to be exposed to the field of computer science. She created an after-school program for young girls to learn about computer science and the fundamentals of programing and organized empowerment workshops in Chicago for young female leaders. Sanmati’s Girl Scout Silver Award project,  MEETS (Mentoring Elementary Education using Technology and Science), built interest in STEM though relationships and role models. Sanmati also serves in local leadership roles of several national female-focused STEM organizations, including coderGirls and ProjectCSGirls, and co-founded a Coding Club for elementary students. Sanmati’s efforts have been recognized on a local and national level, including by the National Center for Women in Technology.


Emerging Young Philanthropists

Sarah Anne Ackels, Simsbury High School

At age 11, Sarah Ackels founded a non-profit organization focused on feeding hungry people in Connecticut. She called it Sarah Stops Hunger. Five years and over 125,000 meals made later, Sarah, a senior at Simsbury High School, has led and inspired her community to focus on addressing local hunger through meal-making and the ancillary positive effects that come when basic needs are addressed, such as improvement in school and in employment. Sarah has partnered with Feeding Children Everywhere and Rise Against Hunger and has run eight events that raised over $28,000 for meals-to-be made. Sarah has cultivated partnerships with local businesses to create sustainability in her work. Sarah is an active leader in her church and serves on local and national leadership teams to develop service projects that include youth leadership.


Nina Faynshtayn, Hall High School

Nina Faynshatayn, a senior at Hall High School, promotes awareness and visibility of the consequences of global conflict through her documentaries, focusing particularly on the Crimean conflict in Ukraine. Nina created documentaries to show the realities of wounded Ukrainian soldiers gaining medical treatment in the U.S. and how their struggles showed the intimate impact of global conflict. Nina has also worked with and for the Ukrainian communities in Connecticut through teaching and tutoring in English and serving on the board of an international organization that has provided $7 million worth of aid to Ukraine. Nina’s passion for raising awareness about pressing social issues also informs her involvement in politics and journalism– serving as the Chairwoman of the Connecticut High School Democrats and national Editor-in-Chief of The Progressive Teen magazine. She has researched and written about the #MeToo movement and treatment options for individuals with opioid-issues, hoping to focus attention on important social issues.


Thank you to our generous 2019 supporters!

Sponsors (as of September 12, 2019)

Champion Sponsors



Kathleen Bromage and Family


Pillar Sponsors

Landmark Partners

Liberty Bank

Marjorie E. Morrissey

Max Cares Foundation

Tokio Marine HCC

UTC Aerospace Systems



Innovator Sponsors

The Barnes Group Foundation

David and Lisa Ellovich

Fiduciary Investment Advisors

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Reid & Riege

Robinson & Cole LLC

United Bank


Change Agent Sponsors

Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Baronet Coffee


Cantor Colburn LLP

Essex Financial Services

The Fremont Group, LLC

Harvard Pilgrim Health

Private Capital Group, LLC

Sullivan & LeShane

The Village for Families & Children

Trinity College