Rolling Out

Judy Smith, Soledad O’Brien at the 2013 Women With Purpose Global Summit in the Caribbean

Designers,panelists @FashionDay
Designers,panelists @FashionDay

Mind-blowing Women With Purpose Global Summit

Two hundred women descended upon the Caribbean for a mind-blowing, powerful five-day coterie where both speakers and audience members were smart, accomplished, fabulous and, often, famous women of color.

At the 2013 Women with Purpose Global Summit held June 18 to 22, the like-minded influencers experienced four islands in five days interspersed with workshops, lectures and roundtables on Saint Martin and Sint Maarten, fabulous spa experiences in Anguilla and legendary shopping in St. Barts. Media personality-philanthropist Soledad O’Brien, Coffee Republic founder and U.K. entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi, crisis communication expert and ABC’s “Scandal” inspiration Judy Smith, fashion media maven Jessica Teves ( were among those hobnobbing between their talks, the receptions and special activities at this invitation-only event.

Entrepreneur and summit founder Valerie Gammon Norman wanted to create a special gathering to address the needs of brilliant women of color from around the world. Her hybrid business and pleasure summit format blended the intellectual and innovation firepower of the TED Talks with ease and familiarity of a girlfriend getaway. Against the backdrop of the beautiful islands of St. Martin, St. Maarten, Anguilla and St. Barth, a mix of business leaders, educators, media personalities and entrepreneurs came together to create elite community of powerful women who celebrated, inspired and dared one another to achieve more and do more in all the aspects of their lives.

Collaborations and business ideas emerged as the women pampered themselves with spa treatments on a day trip to Anguilla’s Viceroy and Cuisinart resorts.  At Dutch St. Maarten’s Sonesta Maho Beach, Judy Smith and Girls Incorporated’s former CEO Joyce Roche shared lessons in leadership garnered from experience handling the Iran-Contra Affair to stewarding change as a new CEO. At the La Samanna on the French side of St. Martin, Soledad O’Brien and Carmen Wong Ulrich addressed the intricacy and responsibility of the women of color in the media as personalities, executives and audiences and understanding your personal power.  Thought-leading panelists included Sint. Maarten’s first female prime minister Sarah Wescott-Williams, McDonald’s global chief diversity officer Pat Harris, entrepreneur Michelle Hoskins, Donna Richardson-Joyner, Iyanla Vanzant and Crest Pro-Health Advisory Board’s Dr. Maria Ashley.

At the fabulous Le Chateau des Palmiers estate, international fashion designers, Canada’s Caitlin Power, Trinidad and Tobago fashion designer Meiling and the New York-based philanthropic fashion collective Thenticau dazzled the crowd during the personal branding and fashion talks.  The day ended with the presentation of the award-winning fashion documentary, Versailles ’73:  American Runway Revolution; the backdrop, a moonlit beachside. Actress Tichina Arnold had everyone on the dance floor as she showed off her vocal chops at the white party at Tantra Night Club.

The level of influence and power at the summit spanned countries, industries and professions and ideas were born, partnerships made and fun had by all. The summit was equal parts magical and ground-breaking, and completely an important and interesting place to be to watch women of color engage in conversations that will change our world. –deborah riley-draper, filmmaker (Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Rolling Out