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SAVANNAH, GA. –  United Way of the Coastal Empire is proud to announce three outstanding community leaders as panelists for this year’s Women Who Rule event presented by Step One Automotive Group. Guests will enjoy a conversation with Citi Trends Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Compliance Officer Ivy D. Council, clinical social worker and Chair of the Bryan County Board of Education Amy Perkins-Murphy, and Savannah Joint Development Authority Director of Workforce Maria Whitfield led by Event Chair Cecilia Tran Arango, Marketing Manager at Thomas & Hutton.

Ivy D. Council
Citi Trends

Ivy D. Council has been the executive vice president of human resources and chief compliance officer at Citi Trends, Inc. since March of 2012. She has worked with the Savannah-based company since 2007. Before joining Citi Trends, she held various executive human resources positions with Baja Fresh Restaurants (division of Wendy’s Inc.), Pasta Pomodoro Restaurants (division of Wendy’s Inc.), and Ross Stores. She has also served on the Board of Directors for Goodwill of Southeast Georgia as chair and currently serves as vice chair.

Amy Perkins-Murphy
Bryan County
Board of Education

Amy Perkins-Murphy, a clinical social worker with more than 20 years of experience in child and adolescent mental health, is the clinical coordinator at the Fraser Counseling Center in Hinesville. She has also served on the Bryan County Board of Education since 2012 and has chaired that board since 2019. She did her undergraduate work at North Carolina State University and earned a Master of Social Work degree from Syracuse University.

Maria Whitfield
Savannah Joint
Development Authority

Maria Whitfield is a 30-year human resource professional. She joined the Savannah Joint Development Authority earlier this year as its director of workforce. As a result of the significant growth in the area created in response to the incoming Hyundai plant in Bryan County, Maria is working with existing industries in the region to help identify needs, address labor supply challenges, and develop programs to address workforce challenges. Maria has spent 20 years in coastal Georgia, helping to build workforces for startup international manufacturers in Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, and Liberty counties in a variety of industries.

“We are proud to have these three outstanding women leaders joining us to share their insights on work, life, and the future of our region. Ivy, Amy, and Maria are definitely ‘women who rule,’ and they are perfect panelists for this important annual event which helps us raise funds to provide transportation assistance to women and caregivers across our four-county service area,” said Brynn Grant, president & CEO, United Way of the Coastal Empire.

The program will also salute banking executive, community leader, and longtime United Way supporter and volunteer Kay Ford as the 2023 United Way “Woman of the Year.” The annual luncheon will be held Tuesday, March 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Savannah Convention Center.

Joining the Event Chair Cecilia Tran Arango in the quest to raise as much money as possible for critical transportation needs is a volunteer committee of 30 other women leaders who make up the 2023 Women Who Rule Committee. Championed by United Way’s WOMEN UNITED®, this popular annual event raises funds for residents across our region who need dependable transportation. Support takes the form of gas cards, bus passes, and minor car repairs.

Table sponsorships and seats for the event are currently available for purchase. For more information, visit

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