Today I went to an event called the Essence Young Women Leadership Conference with one of my good friends Tierra at the DC convention center. I anticipated going to this conference for some time and I have to say, I am so happy and thankful that I got the opportunity to attend. For more reasons than one.
When I arrived ( I was a tad late due to confusion on the metro lines) the first thing on the agenda was a general panel session. The Simmons sisters Angela and Vanessa spoke on the panel that was moderated by Essence Entertainment Director Cori Murray. They discussed how they built their fashion business and overcome struggles to get to where they are now. Tia Mowry was supposed to speak at the conference as well, but I believe the Simmons sisters appropriately replaced her. The girls' presence was more effective since they doing things that I aspire to do at my age.
Angela, Cori Murray, and Vanessa on the big screen monitor at the conference.
The Simmon's Sisters answering questions from the audience.
Angela and Vanessa did a meet and greet in the expo room next door following the session. I was somewhat excited to meet them, not to mention, they were adorably dressed (Angela wore these hot pink plats that were to die for!) I sat next to Vanessa during an awkwardly rushed photo op (pictured below) and she complimented me on my blouse! It was funny to watch Angela, she seemed very fun and relaxed as she was randomly robotting and slouching on the couch sidekicking.
Essence Entertainment Editor Cori Murray on the far left. Angela and Vanessa in between.
(Angela chilling at the expo lounge. Love her sparkled jacket!)
(Angela sitting in between two other attendees toward the left, and Angela is sitting next to me on my right. Tierra is on the far right.)
After the meet and greet, Tierra and I went to this workshop called "Real Life 101: Lessons Learned Outside the Classroom." The panel participants were Essence Entertainment Editor Cori Murray, former Teen People Editor and author Amy Barnett, former Diddy assistant and Global Brand Manager of Sean Jean Capricorn Clark (also a judge on "I Want to Work for Diddy), and CEO Shante Bacon. Associate General Council of Time Inc. Rhonda McLean moderated.
I felt so honored and proud to be a part of this session. to be sitting in front of these strong, beautiful black women who have faced so much struggle but still managed to overcome their adversity was so inspirational. they offered advice to us young African American women who strive to be in their shoes. the advice didn't really pertain to business challenges, but more so how to overcome personal challenges.
Amy Barnett at the mic.
Capricorn Clark at the mic (can't help but notice her Spike Lee's)
Amy Barnett offered the most inspirational story and advice. She opened up about how she dealt with being at a very low point in her life and talked about how her mother's passing from cancer pushed her. When she saw a picture of her and her mother, she had an epiphany: "No one is going to rescue me now..." and with that, she knew she could only rescue herself. I admit that I got slightly teary eyed when she spoke of her journey. I realized that is exactly what I need to do... save myself, because no one is going to do it for me. These successful women were sitting right where I aspire to be someday. I hope to empower several sparkle eyed young black women through sharing my experiences.
Then, we went to another general session moderated by Jeffery Johnson. Most people would know him as "Cousin Jeff," but according to him, he got rid of the juvenile nickname. The panelist were Entertainment Executive Valiehsa Butterfield, Speak2Society LLC and owner Quinn Conyers, and Rahama Wright. It was interesting to hear Johnson's male perspective amongst the predominately female discussion.
Jeffery Johnson's picture on the big screen moderator
Pictured on the monitor from left to right: Rahama Wright, Jeff Johnson, Quinn Conyers, and Valeisha Butterfield.
Cori Murray announced winners of raffles that the conference attendees participated in after the panel. Tierra and I entered a raffle that offered an opportunity to win an interview with Time Inc. When Murray was announcing the winners, a couple of them did not show up. I was the last name (incorrectly) called and was one of five lucky ladies who won!
I was so excited and shocked; I couldn't believe it. I did believe, however, that this was all a sign. Especially after I had attempted to get an internship with Essence, but did not follow through.
This conference was an overall amazing experience that I will never forget. I am so happy that I attended because I got the opportunity to be surrounded by all these beautiful strong women who strive just like me to be successful in all aspects of their lives. It also granted me an opportunity that potentially will bring me to my fate.