We ran our StyleBlueprint $5,000 Charity Giveaway contest late last year, and readers voted to select Birmingham’s top 13 charities, from which one was voted the winner and was the proud recipient of the cash prize.

We recently gathered the hardworking, smart and beautiful ladies from the top 13 charities for a day of beauty and fashion. Stylist extraordinaire Megan LaRussa Chenoweth worked with each woman to find the look to match her style aesthetic and body type, while the talented hair and makeup artists from Tonya Jones SalonSpa were on hand to touch up these local leaders. This unique fashion photo shoot was set in the brand-spanking-new Cahaba Brewing Co. in the historical Continental Gin building on Third Avenue South. All day long, this gorgeous, airy space is filled with a lovely filtered, natural light, setting the tone for these women to bathe in the limelight they so deserve. This is our celebration of the dynamic, multitalented women who are moving Birmingham forward through their dedication, determination and heart.

StyleBlueprint Birmingham
The incredible women behind the top 13 charities from StyleBlueprint Birmingham’s 2015 $5,000 Charity Giveaway
wardrobe rack
Get tips from style coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth at meganlarussa.com or Megan’s YouTube channel, and read our FACES interview with her here.
Cahaba Brewing Company
The new Cahaba Brewing Company‘s brewery and taproom is spectacular! We’re betting some of today’s charity organizations are going to take advantage of this awesome space for future fundraising events!

13 Local Leaders of Charity Organizations

Marie Bateh

Co-founder, SUKI Foundation for Rett Syndrome at Children’s of Alabama

Marie Bateh
From Stella Blu: Quinn Black draped tee, $128; BlankNYC medium wash skinny boyfriend jeans, $98; Agent Antoinette cream & charcoal beaded tusk necklace, $105 | From Shoefly: Dolce Vita olive suede peep-toe platform wooden heel, $170

When Marie and Brian Bateh’s daughter Sarah Katherine, aka Suki, was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome at age 2, the parents founded the SUKI Foundation. The not-for-profit organization is dedicated to raising awareness of RS, a unique developmental disorder that is first recognized in infancy and causes problems in brain function responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic function. The SUKI Foundation seeks to assist children in reaching their full potential through early intervention services, ultimately improving the lives of those affected with RS and other neurological disorders. “Our first fundraiser for 2016 will be the St. Elias Cedar Run on April 9,” says Marie, whose favorite part of the StyleBlueprint fashion shoot was “not having to think about getting ready. The hair stylist, makeup artist, photographer and fashion stylist made me feel comfortable and at ease. It was super simple and such fun to be pampered!” 

Megan’s Style Tip:

For a busy mom on the go, the easiest way to get out of your activewear is by selecting comfortable, yet cute, pieces, like well-draped tees and slim-leg boyfriend jeans. These pieces then need to be jazzed up with interesting pieces of jewelry and of-the-moment shoes.

Lindy Williamson Cleveland

Executive Director, Unless U

Lindy Williamson Cleveland
From Theadora Abbeyluxe: Rebecca Taylor floral peplum silk top, $350; Henry & Bell white skinny jeans, $152; gold thin cuff, $44; blue studs, $35; Sacha London Otelo taupe suede wedges, $152

Unless U is committed to serving adults with developmental disabilities and their families through continuing education, life skills and social skills that promote independence. “Unless U offers a college-like atmosphere that is ability-respectful, with classes in math, science, language arts, social studies, Bible study, technology and fine arts,” says Lindy. “Our students love coming to school, hanging out with their friends and continuing to learn.” Come out and support these talented students at the First Annual Unless U Shop event on April 28 at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, or take the Pie in the Face Challenge on social media! 

“I loved getting to meet the wonderful staff of StyleBlueprint and the inspiring women that fight for their organizations’ causes. StyleBlueprint shares the voices of so many great organizations and encourages a supportive community,” says Lindy. “And Megan was a joy to get to know! I loved the cute peplum top she picked out for me. I felt like she really got my style and picked out an outfit that I loved!”

Megan’s Style Tip: 

If soft, romantic and feminine garments are something that make you feel fabulous, then it’s your season! Designers are showing vintage-inspired floral patterns, delicate lace, crocheted fabrics and ruffles galore. When wearing one of these romantic pieces, keep the rest of your outfit streamlined and simple to prevent a trend overload that can go kitschy quick.

Allison Black Cornelius

Chief Executive Officer, The Greater Birmingham Humane Society

Allison Black Cornelius
From Theadora Abbeyluxe: Ecru turquoise long-sleeve silk blouse, $174; Ecru springfield pale pink skinny pant, $165; gold and light gray stone necklace, $216; gold drop earring, $38; Sacha London taupe sling back pump, $149

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society promotes the humane treatment of people and animals through education, advocacy and services. Last year, the GBHS took in more than 18,000 abused, neglected and abandoned animals and started an externship program with Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We need the full support of the community to continue delivering results that have become a national model,” says Allison. “This year, we’re recruiting a Junior Patrons Board, designing creative assignments for volunteers and organizing great events all year, such as Halloween at Iron City with the Molly Ringwalds or one of our summer events at one of Birmingham’s breweries. Help us train vet students, reduce overpopulation and stop cruelty.

“The fashion shoot was incredibly well organized,” says Allison. “The clothes were so gorgeous that I bought the shoes. The photographer did a great job with my dog, Snow, being in the shoot, as well. Snow and I felt so beautiful, and we hope the pictures look as good as we felt.”

Megan’s Style Tip:

Complementary colors turquoise and pink are a bright spring color duo worth trying. By selecting a pale pink, it almost serves as a neutral, giving your white pants a break. Complete the ensemble with the always-sophisticated nude kitten heel pump.

Phaye Wilson

Director of Communications, Restoration Academy

Phaye Wilson
From Gus Mayer: Lafayette 148 cobalt multicolored, long-sleeve top, $448; NYDJ white legging skinny jean, $110 | From Shoefly: gold hoop, $24; gold tassel necklace, $77; Pelle Moda black suede cork wedge, $130

Restoration Academy works individually with students from remedial to accelerated and offers free in-school and after-school tutoring, teaches foreign languages and provides opportunities in the arts. The Restoration Academy education requires the study of United States and world history, all sciences, language, literature, government, finance, physical education, the arts, Bible and apologetics. “One of the things that is unique about the academy is that we bring children, parents, faculty and staff from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds together. Education and reconciliation for our city is at the heart of what we do,” says Phaye.

“I loved the choice that Megan pulled together. Everyone should have a best friend like Megan,” says Phaye. “It was sophisticated and fun, all rolled into one. I could easily wear the outfit to a lunch meeting, the office or my boys’ soccer practice.”

Megan’s Style Tip:

Navy and white are the ultimate classic spring color combination. In other words, pairing these two neutrals together means you can never go wrong. For a modern spin on this classic duo, try a top with an interesting print with varying shades of rich blue paired back with your favorite white jeans.

Ashley DeRamus

Co-founder, Ashley DeRamus Foundation

Ashley DeRamus
From Gus Mayer: Elliott Lauren white long-sleeve tee, $88; Central Park West neutral fringe vest, $155; Lilac Frost Jean by NYDJ, $110 | From Shoefly: gold pendant arrow necklace, $36 | From Theadora Abbeyluxe: Coconuts by Matisse tan gladiator sandals, $80

The Ashley DeRamus Foundation is dedicated to the education, advancement and enhanced quality of life of children and adults with Down syndrome and special needs. Through her work for the foundation, public appearances singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and winning 43 swimming medals at the Special Olympics state games, Ashley is a fearless Down syndrome and special needs advocate. In 2015, she traveled to Chennai, India, to attend the World Down Syndrome Congress, where she received the World Down Syndrome Award, presented by Down Syndrome International. This year, Ashley will attend the National Down Syndrome Society’s 30th Annual Gala and Auction in New York City on March 10. She will also be a part of the National Down Syndrome Congress from July 21 to 24 in Orlando, FL.

“I enjoyed my photo shoot very much. I love to model. I also liked having my hair and makeup done. It made me feel beautiful,” says Ashley. “I thought my outfit was very pretty and very classy. My favorite part of the outfit was the vest with the fringe.”

Megan’s Style Tip:

What better way to add some on-trend flair to your casual jeans and tee than by adding a fringe sweater vest?! Fringe is fun for spring, and by keeping the rest of the look feminine and fresh, you are sure to look current and not costume-y.

Whitton Ward

Behavior Therapist, Mitchell’s Place

Whitton Ward
From Stella Blu: Blaque Label green and black pattern sleeveless blouse, $118; BlankNYC white skinny jean, $98; gold chain link cut stone charm necklace, $178 | From Shoefly: Steve Madden nude peep-toe stacked heel bootie, $110

Mitchell’s Place provides comprehensive, researched-based, educational, social and therapeutic services for children, adolescents and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities. “We offer comprehensive services for children all under one roof,” says Whitton. “At Mitchell’s Place, we practice collaboration between all of the disciplines involved, which is so important to cultivating comprehensive, individualized services, which maximize the childrens’ potential and success.

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting other women in the nonprofit workforce,” says Whitton. “Megan was incredibly easy to work with! She has a great sense of style and picked out the perfect outfit for me. She hit the nail on the head with my styling. I purchased my wardrobe before leaving!”

Megan’s Style Tip:

There’s nothing more versatile than a vivid silk shell. Try it with a pair of trousers or pencil skirt and cardigan for work, with a blazer and jeans for an evening out, or even with white jeans for a fresh day-to-night look. Remember when rocking white jeans, the most important style tip is to keep your shoe sleek and neutral to keep your lovely silhouette elongated.

Jeannie Colquett

Executive Director, The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs

Jeannie Colquett
From Theadora Abbeyluxe: Grey State multicolor marbleized print boat-neck top, $128; Principle dark-wash boot-cut jeans, $122; set of gold stretch beaded bracelets, $42; gold pendant necklace, $115; Ethem metallic stacked heel sandal, $139

Since 1984, The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs has provided infants and toddlers early intervention services from transdisciplinary teams — which include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech-language pathologist and an early childhood special education teacher — as each child works on individual developmental goals. “I’m really proud of the work that our staff does in helping families navigate some of the challenges they face in the early years of their child’s life,” says Jeannie. “Having a child with special needs is usually unfamiliar territory to parents, and I’m grateful that we provide an atmosphere that is so supportive of our families — in addition to the great therapy we provide to their children.” Be sure to get out and support The Bell Center at the 4th Annual Bell Center Cornhole Classic, hosted by the Bell Center Junior Board, on Saturday, April 16, at Good People Brewing Company!

“I always appreciate good teamwork,” says Jeannie, “and the photo shoot was the perfect example! From the outfit that was selected to the hair and makeup to the actual photography – everybody was working together for one great result. I loved the whole outfit that Megan pulled together, but I’d have to say I especially loved the necklace. I think one great necklace can really elevate a whole look!”

Megan’s Style Tip:

Dark-wash, boot-cut jeans belong in every woman’s closet. They can be dressed up with a silk blouse and heels or dressed down with a casual tee and stacked heel sandals. When wearing one of the season’s most important jean styles, make sure to keep your top tailored to ensure your look is balanced and flattering.

Maggie McDonald

Senior Director of Development, YWCA Central Alabama

Maggie McDonald
From Theadora Abbeyluxe: Atina Cristina coral silk short-sleeve blouse, $121; NYDJ cappuccino jean, $110; crystal stone pendant necklace, $248; Sacha London smoke coco wedge, $159

YWCA Central Alabama is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all through focusing on four main areas: affordable housing, quality child development programs for children of homeless and working poor families, domestic violence services and social justice programming. We all know that fashion can lift your mood and boost your confidence, and the YWCA recognizes that fact, as well, which is why they are having their PromPalooza. “We rely on the kindness of the community to help provide formal dresses for girls in need,” says Maggie. “We appreciate all donations, but we especially need gowns in sizes 14 and up to make sure that girls of all shapes and sizes feel beautiful on their special night!

“Megan truly has a knack for making every girl feel beautiful,” says Maggie. “I will say that these shoes are fabulous! Being someone who is short, I love a good shoe that makes me feel taller than I am and don’t hurt my feet, and these did the trick.”

Megan’s Style Tip:

For a dinner out, try a silk blouse in your favorite spring color worn with a pair of rich taupe jeans. Taupe serves the same purpose as your white jeans, and can differentiate you from a sea of white pants. Select an interesting pendant necklace that creates a flattering v-neck shape and looks beautiful on every body type.

Suzanne Boozer

Executive Director, Studio by the Tracks

Suzanne Boozer
From J.McLaughlin: sleeveless fit & flare blue floral pattern dress, $225; J.McLaughlin ¾-length-sleeve crew neck cardigan, $145 | From Shoefly: gold tear drop earrings, $24; Sam Edelman neutral suede lace up stacked heel sandal, $120 | From Theadora Abbeyluxe: set of gold stretch beaded bracelets, $42

The Studio by the Tracks provides a broad and diverse range of visual arts experiences to a student population who may not otherwise have an opportunity for art education. “The studio has become an architect for self-esteem and a platform of visibility for people who are otherwise ‘invisible,'” says Suzanne. “Many of our students have not only amassed large bodies of work, they have enchanted art collectors, as well. Through our efforts, their work — and consequently their life stories — are visible all over Birmingham. They have become important.

“My favorite part about the photo shoot was meeting some of Birmingham’s other nonprofit leaders and being able to spread the word about what we do at the studio,” says Suzanne.

Megan’s Style Tip:

A fit-and-flare dress in structured neoprene material is flattering on almost every body type. To modernize a classic patterned dress and white cardigan, add an on-trend, stacked heel, tie-up sandal. This will be your new favorite summer shoe! Wear it with jeans, dresses or even to work with your favorite pencil skirt and blouse.

Katherine Estes Billmeier

Chief Executive Officer, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama

Katherine Estes Billmeier
From Gus Mayer: Lilla P black unstructured jacket, $169; Tangerine NYC white mosaic print blouse, $186; Equestrian Designs gray skinny pant, $165 | From Theadora Abbeyluxe: gold and blue stone earrings, $32; blue and gold beaded bracelet, $59 Sacha London Ewise taupe suede heel, $156

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama is committed to enhancing the lives of children and their families, caring for 41 guest families every night in the local Ronald McDonald house. It provides them with a home away from home — as well as home-cooked meals, activities, indoor and outdoor play areas, laundry facilities, computers, WiFi and support — while their children receive medical treatment. “I am privileged to make a difference in the life of someone every day among the 41 families in our care each night. If every customer contributed one penny in McDonald’s canisters every time they went through the drive-thru, we would raise $440,000 each year for the Ronald McDonald House,” says Katherine, who encourages supporters to sign up for their Ronald McDonald House specialty car tag. In order to get the tag produced, the Ronald McDonald House is picking up the tab for the first 1,000 drivers who sign up.

“I love clothes and fashion but don’t actually shop much,” says Katherine. “It was fun to see what Megan picked out for me, and I will definitely be purchasing the outfit. Those pants made me feel and look as if I’d lost 10 pounds!”

Megan’s Style Tip:

For a business-casual environment, there’s nothing more chic than a silky blazer to polish off your go-to-work look. The charm of the third piece is the easiest way to look pulled together at the office.

Leigh Haver

President, 2015-2016, Junior League of Birmingham

Leigh Haver
From Gus Mayer: Kobe Halperin long-sleeve silk stripe blouse, $378; NYDJ Alina Eclipse Jean, $110 | From Shoefly: cut stone on calfskin cuff, $79; silver hoop earrings, $24; Pelle Moda black peep-toe wedge, $209

The Junior League of Birmingham is dedicated to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the lives of women and children in our community in the areas of education, financial stability, health and safety, and crisis intervention. “We are really excited about our upcoming annual Bargain Carousel, a 1,000-family garage sale,” says Leigh, adding, “and the Bargain Bash, which kicks off the event with exclusive shopping, an auction, and fabulous food and drinks!

“My favorite thing about the shoot was interacting with Megan,” says Leigh. “She is kind, genuine and encouraging. You can tell she has an honest passion for making people feel their best.”

Megan’s Style Tip:

Stuck in a black pant rut? Opt for a chic pair of charcoal jeans to mix it up a bit. Gray is the ultimate neutral and thus works beautifully paired with black, cream, white or any colorful hue. Complete your basic jeans-and-blouse look with a statement-making cuff, preferably in a color to add a pop of spring to your neutral ensemble.

Joyce T. Spielberger

Executive Director, Magic Moments

Joyce Spielberger
From Gus Mayer: Lilla P white unstructured blazer, $168; Lilla P plum python print sleeveless blouse, $108; Elliott Lauren light gray pull-on pant, $135 | From Shoefly: silver hoop earrings, $24; set of silver stretch beaded bracelets, $34; Sam Edelman brown strappy sandals, $130

Magic Moments fulfills the nonmedical wishes of chronically ill Alabama children, providing them an opportunity to turn away from illness and suffering — if only for a moment — and feel what it is like to just be a kid again! “We are devoted solely to serving the children of Alabama, and we are not a ‘one and done’ wish-granting organization,” says Joyce. “When we learn that a child of ours is back in the hospital or going through a new round of treatment, we reach out, send cards, visit, take a meal or a much-needed cup of coffee to a parent in a waiting room. We go ‘Beyond the Moment’ for our families with no-cost programs, such as our annual Family Camp at Children’s Harbor on Lake Martin, holiday parties and nights at our regional ball parks. We keep our families connected to us, but most importantly, we connect them to each other, building a caring support network.

“Every day, I hit the ground running, usually out the door by 6 a.m. to exercise, meetings and work and, honestly, pulling my ‘look’ together never makes it to my priority list,” says Joyce. “With my hair and makeup done and the great easy-to-wear outfit Megan put together for me, it really affected my attitude! I felt so glamorous and energized and ready to go out that night! I am usually ready to put on my pajamas by 5 p.m., so it just proves that taking some time to treat yourself can really give your outlook a lift!”

Megan’s Style Tip:

Instead of wearing your wedges from last summer, try an equally comfortable, yet more on-trend, shoe option with your trousers and silk blouse: the stacked heel sandal. This must-have sandal can be dressed up or down, and is sure to become your favorite shoe this season.

Morgan Perry

Sister of Kayla Perry, Founder, Open Hands Overflowing Hearts

StyleBlueprint Birmingham’s 2015 $5,000 Charity Giveaway Winner!

Morgan Perry, Open Hands Overflowing Hearts
From Stella Blu: Tbags Los Angeles blue, orange and white dress, $198 | From Shoefly: Diba True Chestnut peep-toe bootie, $149; stretch multicolor beaded bracelets, $32 each

Diagnosed at age 18 with stage 4 neuroblastoma, Kayla Perry decided to take action and founded the nonprofit Open Hands Overflowing Hearts, with the mission of raising awareness and funding for pediatric cancers. “Open Hands Overflowing Hearts is based on the premise that when people are given the opportunity to do something good, they take it,” says founder Kayla Perry. “OHOH exists to give people those opportunities to get involved and make a difference specifically in the world of childhood cancer research.” After scheduling this photo shoot, Kayla’s brain tumor returned. While she was home recovering, she was happy to send her sister Morgan to represent OHOH. Kayla’s aggressive form of cancer demonstrates the need for research and a cure for pediatric cancers.

“My favorite part about the fashion shoot was getting my hair and makeup done by professionals. It was so fun, and they were so nice! I felt beautiful,” says Morgan. “I loved the adorable shoes that Megan picked out. They were so cute, comfy and really brought the outfit together.”

Megan’s Style Tip:

Feminine frocks are very of the moment, and a no-brainer way to look fabulous this season. All a boho chic dress needs is a great pair of stacked heel booties or sandals, and layered bracelets.

Cahaba Brewing Co.
Cahaba Brewing Co.


To Megan LaRussa Chenoweth for styling each of our wonderful models in these fabulous looks!

To Tonya Jones SalonSpa for making these ladies feel so fabulous with the stylings of your talented hair and makeup artists!

To the stellar boutiques that contributed clothing for our photo shoot. Thank you Gus Mayer, J.McLaughlin, Shoefly, Stella Blu and Theadora Abbeyluxe!

To Cahaba Brewing Co. for letting us use your stunning new brewery as the backdrop for our fashion shoot!

To Savage’s Bakery & Deli for providing our crew with a delicious, complimentary lunch of sandwiches, chips and sinfully delicious cookies!

And to Brendon Pinola for the breathtaking photography of our models at the Cahaba Brewing Co.!


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About the Author
Lauren Helmer

Lauren Helmer is a writer, editor, and artist with a passion for food, the arts, interiors, and the people who create them.