Boca Raton Philanthropist Helping Women Pursue Passions

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor

Humanitarian, businesswoman and philanthropist Yvonne Boice wants women to know they can succeed in any career field they choose whether it be in a laboratory or on a canvass.

That is why she said she committed to chair a five-year initiative at Palm Beach State College called “STEAM”, which helps promote learning different fields of study including science, technology, engineering, arts and science.

Currently in its fourth year, the program has featured speakers including Apple’s Steve Wozniak, actor, musician and author John Lithgow, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and most recently in February race car driver Danica Patrick.

In addition to taking on the role of chairwoman of the endeavor, Boice has also donated $150,000 in scholarship money to be awarded to women studying one of the topics.

“It’s time for women to get involved,” she said of the program that promotes certain studies. “It is not a good ole’ boys club anymore. It has been so rewarding. We have seen young women get into those disciplines.”

She said when she was first approached to chair the initiative, she refused to participate because the program was going by the more traditional name of “STEM,” which did not include the arts.

To get Boice on board, she said she requested STEM become STEAM with the A representing the arts.

“I said put arts in it and I will do it,” she said recalling her conversation about becoming chairwoman. “So STEM went from STEM to STEAM. When you add the A, it is such a great addition.”

Boice isn’t only helping out one local college. An idea she had in 2002 to represent the international student body at Lynn University by displaying flags from different countries has now been named in her honor.

There are currently 159 flags on display on the campus. To keep them flying, Boice also started an endowment campaign to pay for the maintenance of the Circle of Flags.

She said the flags represent the importance of traveling something that has been her passion. She said visited 150 countries for both pleasure and for the State Department under the George Bush administration.

Of all the places she has seen, she said taking a safari ride through South Africa is the ultimate experience.

On her official travels, she attended the Middle East and North African Women’s Conference in Abu Dhabi where she met with a group of Moroccan women interested in learning about ways to stop women from being portrayed in film and television as victims.

At the time, Boice was the chair of the Palm Beach International Film Festival. She agreed to speak to a group of producers and directors in Marrakesh where she told the women they do not need to portrayed as victims.

She challenged the filmmakers to submit pieces to her that did not feature women as victims and in exchange she would view them at the festival.

Of the five films selected, she said one moved on to become nominated for an Academy Award.

“One person can make a difference,” she said.

If you know someone who is making a difference in the Boca Raton or Delray Beach area, please nominate them to be featured in our monthly “Game Changers” feature.