Boca Raton, FL—Ann Marie Dunn, co-owner of J.R. Dunn Jewelers, was one of two women honored recently by the Zonta Club of Greater Deerfield Beach, in recognition of their efforts to advance and empower women. The club is a part of Zonta International, an international organization of executives and professionals making strides to advance the status of women, locally and world-wide, through service and advocacy. With more than 30,000 members belonging to more than 1,200 Zonta Clubs in 67 countries, Zontians all over the world volunteer their time, talents, and resources to local and international service projects and scholarship programs.
Dunn and another Florida resident, Rachel Wheeler, were presented with the Heart, Soul, and Service Award at the Florida chapter’s Fourth Annual Cabaret Brunch on Sunday, March 11. (Below from left, Rachel Wheeler, event MC Cara Zimmerman, and Ann Marie Dunn. Image top left, the Dunn family.)
Empowering women in business has always been a foremost passion for Ann Marie Dunn, who fought her own way up in a “man’s business” before co-founding J.R. Dunn with her husband, Jim.
Ann Marie Dunn (nee Pelliccia) was born in Nettuno, Italy, immigrating to the United States at age 10. Here, the young Ann Marie taught herself and her family English. As a young adult, she went to work at IBM as an executive secretary in the field engineering office—an eight-year career in a very male-dominated environment.
Dunn and her husband always had a fascination with gems and in 1969, used their savings to purchase a small house in Massachusetts, which they converted into their first jewelry store. Through the years, the business changed its name to J. R. Dunn Jewelers, moved to Florida, and morphed into one of the first successful omnichannel luxury jewelers in the United States.
Through it all, Ann Marie Dunn has always been active in giving back to the community, helping raise over $2.2 million dollars for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, Food for the Poor, and other local charities and causes.
Says son Sean Dunn, “She empowers other women who work at J.R. Dunn, as the co-owner and director of buying for the store. She has always had the vision and unique ability to choose the perfect pieces. and loves sharing that knack with the other women at J.R. Dunn, helping them learn and grow. She has guided the buyers and equipped them with the knowledge to stand confidently as strong women in the industry and skillfully negotiate with vendors.”
The brunch honoring Dunn and Wheeler featured a silent auction and comedic entertainment by Woody Woodbury. Funds raised at the brunch benefit the Zonta Club’s $25,000 scholarship program for non-traditional students at Broward College, a fund earmarked for women re-enrolling in the workplace and in need of financial assistance.
Ann Marie Dunn with husband Jim, right, and comedian Woody Woodbury, left.