The 8th annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit: Day 2 recap
Fresh off being honored the night before as part of the Women of Legacy Awards dinner, media pioneer Cathy Hughes delivered some sobering realities to the early morning risers in a breakfast conversation that touched on everything from perseverance, and working with her son to the challenges black women face in finding a mate. Particularly well-received was her observation that black women are marrying their jobs.
Popular sessions following Hughes included “Making Your Way to that Prestigious Corporate Board Seat,” “The Future is Now: Optimizing Your Digital Strategy” and “How to Shatter Your Personal Glass Ceiling.” Lunch was all about Xerox chairperson and CEO Ursula Burns. In her post since 2008, Burns charmed the crowd with her no-nonsense brand of leadership geared towards hard work and results. The native New Yorker of Panamanian ancestry touched on her unlikely rise to the top seat while also imparting wisdom on the realities of being a working mother.
McDonald’s took over shortly thereafter with the workshop “BE Healthy: Lifestyle Choices for a Creative and Competitive You.” The session jumpstarted with a brief and lively workout session, incorporating two-steps to the sounds of gospel and house, courtesy of fitness guru Benita Perkins. From there, Dr. Cindy Goody, McDonald’s senior director of nutrition; and Dr. Marleece Barber, chief medical officer, Lockheed Martin, shared the jarring health realities black women faced as Mosaic Marketing president Rachelle Franklin moderated.
At the same time, the “Today’s Business Crisis: Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce” presented by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, proved explosive as panelists and participants delved passionately into the failings of the American educational system and what it means for the future of Black America. Educators hailing from various parts of the country laid out the challenges of those in the educational system and the efforts towards reformed while also sharing what everyone could do to improve public education in the U.S.
The premier evening activity, sponsored by Comcast-NBCUniversal was all about honoring the Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing as Tempestt Bledsoe and Tamron Hall helped guide the celebration. Black women from top companies like Heineken, PepsiCo, Comcast-NBCUniversal were celebrated along with those from agencies such as Burrell, Liquid Soul Media and Sanders/Wingo.
“It’s a true honor to be in your presence even with my dry skin and fro,” Hall said, referring to the effect the Orlando weather had on her hair and skin before the ladies strutted onto the stage. “I love you all. It is an honor,” she repeated. “I can only hope that the energy that is in this room sticks on me and helps me through my day.”
Afterwards, many of the women joined the Black Enterprise in an intimate working dinner to help the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation generate ideas as to how to help the nearly 40 percent of African Americans who attend college but fail to graduate. –ronda racha penrice