Around Town: BMW Honors Local Women Who “Pay it 4Ward”

by Kyle Kerchaert

Entrepreneurs were honored at BMW’s “Women Who Pay it 4ward” brunch at STK. 


From left to right: Emcee Reneé Starlynn Allen; honorees Rina Shah and Natalie Cofield; BMW’s Kevin Williams; honorees Edda Coleman and Kirby Bumpus; and Kris Williams of MADE Magazine. (Photo: Kerry King)

The District’s women on the rise gathered to honor local entrepreneurs at STK Washington at an invite-only event co-hosted by MADE Magazine.

The fourth installment of a series that began in 2015, the weekend’s brunch recognized four DMW-based women who are making exceptional contributions to their fields and surrounding communities: Kirby Bumpus, who has served the past five years in various health and human development positions with the Obama Administration; Natalie Cofield, the founder & CEO of Walker’s Legacy, a global collective for women in business, and Urban Co­Lab, a community for urban innovators; Edda Coleman, the founder and managing director of boutique public affairs firm The 316 Group; and Rina Shah, the founder of strategic consulting firm Rilax Strategies and current communications director for Ed McMullin for President. Local radio producer and host of The Reneé Starlynn Speaks Show, Reneé Starlynn Allen, emceed for the afternoon.

Upbeat R&B and pop tracks set the mood for the spirited event as guests sipped on mimosas and nibbled on STK’s coveted bites, including fried chicken and french toast.

Before the honorees took the mic, guests were offered the chance to “Drive for a Cause.” BMW brought along several of their latest 4 Series models, and for each guest who took a test-drive, the company made a donation to charity. Emcee Starlynn Allen held the honor of designating the receiving charity, and she chose an organization that upheld the theme of the event: Sisters 4 Sisters Network, Inc.,  a non-profit helping women connect.


Guests test-drive a BMW 4 Series convertible. (Photo: Kerry King)

Starlynn Allen gathered the crowd’s attention as they wrapped up their meals and then passed the microphone along to each of the honorees.

Bumpus addressed the crowd first, saying, “I have been blessed with phenomenal female role models in my life,” as her mother, editor and anchor Gayle King, looked on. She left guests comforted after she asked everyone in the room to raise their hands if they still feel like they are figuring things out, and hands of all ages and races shot into the air.

Cofield took to the mic next. She thanked her friend and fellow entrepreneur Marcus Noel for recommending her for the honors, urging the importance of always acknowledging those who push you forward in life. She then shared a quote from Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made millionaire and for whom her company, Walker’s Legacy, is named: “I got my start by giving myself a start.” Before passing the floor to Coleman, Cofield reminded guests to “be the legacy of the women who have come before us.”

Like Cofield, Coleman shared the words of another inspirational woman of color, Maya Angelou. “‘I come as one, but I stand as ten thousand,'” she said, reiterating the importance of honoring those who have got us to where we stand today.

Closing out the remarks, Shah emphasized that “women helping women never gets old. Women will never get anywhere without holding the door open for other women.” She ended the rounds of inspiring speeches to a room full of applause by declaring, “I believe in paying it forward.”


Starlyn Allen beams as she accepts a check for $2,500 towards Sisters 4 Sisters Network. (Photo: Kerry King)

Before the room’s buzz stifled, Kevin Williams, head of multicultural marketing at BMW Group, and Kris Williams, publisher of MADE Magazine, took to the front. They presented Starlynn Allen with a check made out to Sisters 4 Sisters Network, Inc., for $2,500, proving just what women can do when they come together.

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