In The Bag Auction | Event 2017
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The Event

 Silent Auction of Designer Handbags and Luncheon

Since its first small gathering almost 8 years ago, the IN THE BAG charity luncheon has netted over $465,000 in critical relief funds that have allowed The American Red Cross of the National Capital region to help needy families following disasters. This is an amazing testament to the generosity of our community and it is also a powerful statement about the concern and commitment of all of the women who work year after year to make this event one that can, quite literally, move ladies to open their purses for the good of others.

We’re excited to announce our Special Guests
Laura Evans, Founder of Laura Evans Media
Dawn Halfaker, Founder and CEO of Halfaker and Associates
Julie Cangialosi, Mrs. District of Columbia America 2017


LAURA EVANS, Founder of Laura Evans Media

Laura Evans Manatos is the Founder of Laura Evans Media, a media consulting company  helping business leaders, social entrepreneurs, and community-builders who work on the side of social good get their message heard and their story told. Her clients are working to solve social, health and economic problems and improve overall community wellness. You may recognize Laura since before launching her own media consulting business, she served as anchor and reporter on Fox 5 DC News for the past 18 years, most recently sitting in the anchor chair on the 5 o’clock news.


In her 26-year journalism career, Laura’s reporting earned her several honors and awards including multiple Emmys and Emmy nominations, Associated Press Awards, Golden Mics and a Radio and Television News Directors Association Award for Best News Series.


Laura is passionate about her involvement with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, having served as Honorary Chair for The Light the Night Walks and as emcee for the Leukemia Ball and Man and Woman of the Year Awards. Laura leads the annual DC Newswomen’s Bash against Breast Cancer and, along with her husband Mike, is also very devoted to the Make a Wish Foundation.


Laura’s top priorities are the three little ones at home who keep her extremely busy: daughters, Sienna and Andrea, and her son, Lucas.


DAWN HALFAKER, Founder and CEO of Halfaker and Associates

Dawn Halfaker is the founder and CEO of Halfaker and Associates, an award winning professional services and technology solutions firm.  Dawn has also served in the Military Police Officer in the United States Army and as consultant and advisor on defense legislation and issues.  Throughout her military career, Dawn earned respect as a dynamic leader of men and women in combat, peacekeeping, and in training in the United States, South Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq.   Dawn was deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division where she commanded a military police platoon in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  After being wounded near Baghdad in 2004, she earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.


Dawn holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Arts in Security Studies from Georgetown University.  Dawn has been featured on several media outlets including HBO, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Huffington Post and The New York Times and has received numerous accolades.

Halfaker and Associates LLC-7733-2

JULIE CANGIALOSI, Mrs. District of Columbia America 2017

Julie Cangialosi was crowned Mrs. District of Columbia America 2017 at the Embassy of France in Washington, DC.  Her platform is pregnancy loss and miscarriage awareness.  As a mother of a double rainbow, she emphasized the need to bring awareness to a cause that is often not spoken about but affects many women.


Julie graduated from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York with a degree in Nutrition Science. Immediately following graduation she participated in an internship at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut, where she had her research published as a co-author in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2003.  After working as an ICU dietitian Julie used her science background to parlay into a pharmaceutical sales career, and currently works for Novartis Pharmaceuticals.  Julie’s love for health and fitness inspired her to become a fitness professional instructing Barre and Pilates classes at Vida Fitness in downtown DC.


Julie’s hobbies include traveling, trying new recipes, enjoying sporting events with her family especially the Washington Capitals.


LINDA MATHES, CEO American Red Cross of the National Capital Region

Linda Mathes is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region. Ms. Mathes is charged with responsibility to carry out the mission of the American Red Cross throughout this regional community and to support other communities across the country and around the world.


Ms. Mathes began her career with the Red Cross in 1973 at the Dallas County Chapter/Northeast Texas Division. She served in several leadership positions at the national headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington, DC from 1978-1986; Executive Director of the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Red Cross Chapter in Pennsylvania from 1986-1991; and was appointed CEO of the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area in 1991.



Brenda Blisk is President, and owner of Blisk Financial Group. Brenda’s built a solid record of accomplishments and a reputation for excellence among the Blisk Financial Group clients and colleagues. Brenda is actively involved in her church and community serving in a variety of leadership roles with The Capital Speakers Club of Washington, D.C., Women in Technology, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and a Tiffany Circle member of the American Red Cross.


In 2010, she founded and is the chairwoman of the now infamous “IN THE BAG” luncheon and silent auction of ladies handbags where all the proceeds go to benefit the work of the local American Red Cross. Over the past years, this event netted over $350,000 for the Red Cross. Brenda and her husband live in Tysons Corner and relishes time with family and friends.



The IN THE BAG Luncheon and Silent Auction event is planned and staffed by a steering committee of local women leaders. These women volunteer their expertise to find sponsors, develop marketing, engage in traditional and online PR, and search out phenomenal bags from gracious donors. In planning for this November’s IN THE BAG charity luncheon, the Steering Committee wanted to find ways to make this year truly spectacular. The committee is working to make it not only a wonderful way to spend an afternoon but also a day of giving that surpasses the donations of all other years.


Check back often…more details to come!