Honoring the legends in our midst at the BE Women in Power Legacy Gala

In its annual celebration of the influence of women, the Black Enterprise Women in Power Summit represents all things powerful and beautiful about sisterhood and women and the unique challenges and perspectives that we experience and embrace.  The three day conference offered opportunities to learn, party, cry and challenge yourself in a way that sets a fire to your passions like few conferences have done for me.  To start off the festivities the summit pulls a surprise order, placing their signature event on Day 1: the Women in Power Legacy Awards Gala.  The gala allows women to acknowledge and uplift the greatness, challenges, and ferocity we see in heroines around us and also provides them an opportunity to share their perspective of their success.

As I pulled up in my car on the first day running in fashionably late to the gala it dawned on me I really was not sure what to expect. Going to a conference alone strips you of the option to rely on those you know to provide a good time.  Without the crutch of comfort you are forced to open your mind and heart to the people and experiences that may lie in store.  As I walked in a wee bit anxious as I maneuvered to find a seat at the gala something different happened, the energy of the women in the room began to energize me.  From friendly smiles to compliments to my dress to welcome invitations to join tables I began to understand the potential you can tap into when you have a room full of successful, driven and positive women all in one place.  Just like that this energy quickly removed the newness and new acquaintances quickly began to feel like old friends as we ate, laughed and listened to the phenomenal and inspirational stories of the recipients.

As a high point to the strong and powerful women that filled the room the Gala honored recipients who not only shined in their career but inspired others with their ability not just to succeed but to see the bigger picture of their roles as a connection for others to reach their greatness. From trailblazers in the financial world such as Edith Cooper, who climbed to elite levels in the man’s world of the New York Stock Exchange, to Jayne Kennedy Overton whose beauty only paled in comparison to her agility to spot and seize opportunities as she moved from dancer to actor to one of the first black women sportscasters.  By far, however, my favorites were Carmen Lavallade and Donna Brazille.  Ms. Lavallade has become renowned as a dancer, but in hearing this sprite 87 year old speak you realize that dancing was only the means she used to realize the beautiful spirit bursting from inside her.  As she shared her wisdom of where things had been to where things are you could not help but take a step back and think wow.  From the speakers to your fellow attendees there were so many beautiful stories left untold, to be told, and retold that compiled the history of us.  This history was best closed by Donna Brazile, the feisty political powerhouse who got the house shaking when she share the wisdom of Ms. Lavallade, to pull yourself up by your vagina.  While the comment took some by surprise the message sure should not have.  Instead of hiding behind the depiction of women, especially black women, we have to trust ourselves enough to dig deep, recognize the power blazing inside of us and prepare to unleash it on the world until others can neither dim nor deny that light.  With a fiery speak taking us through history and to the time that we now can claim as our own, the Gala laid an impressive foundation to a conference full of trailblazing.

 

(Photos courtesy of Black Enterprise)

Gala, Banquets and more, taking advantage of grown up dress up

Getting all dressed up every day is usually out of reach for me. Most days I am on the run.  I get dressed in the dark, grab my kids and spend the rest of the day on the run.  It’s safe to say that most days my appearance isn’t magazine worthy.  But there are other days when it totally is.  I appreciate the opportunity to pamper myself and get all dolled up for an adult night of fun. The awards gala at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit most recently provided me the perfect medium for my love of dress up.

Now by excited I mean by the result, not all the work it takes to get there. After a busy day of seminars I was still left with the daunting challenge of getting kids to the sitter, getting make up done, curling my hair, throwing on a dress and doing it all without breaking out in a cold sweat.  As a working mom I will say that the challenge can almost make just staying at home easier.  But easier is not always better.  As a working woman it is important to play dress up every once in a while.  It is a great reminder of not just who we were before the kids and responsibilities but who we are, our core.  We all deserve to feel like a princess every once in a while even far after the dream of a fairytale life has ended.

So with the running and curling and rush I walked into the gala still in rushing mommy mode, but once I walked it I finally received the fruits of my labors. Looking amazing has a funny way of making you feel amazing and the walk you walk when you feel amazing is a must in every woman’s life.  Not just the walk but the talk as you see yourself as your best self, even if it is just superficial.  And as people do their second take wondering if you are the same hectic business woman they saw earlier, you can do an internal victory lap. Sometimes you may not have it all or be Wonder Woman but at least you look great faking the funk.