Weatherford to White House

Weatherford to White House

I had the honor to attend the first ever White House Summit for the United State of Women. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. To be in the same room with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah, and many of the most powerful people globally.  

I put together a day-by-day series of events with some links. Feel free to reach out and chat if you want to hear any stories or have questions. There is so much to tell but only a limited space.  

Honored to have represented everyone at Hook Studios, Mere Machine and RPM GRP. More importantly the women out there making the world a better place and all the men supporting our efforts.

USOW

 

WHITE HOUSE SUMMIT FOR THE UNITED STATE OF WOMEN — BRANDY COLE
INSTAGRAM: @blcole78        TWITTER: @BrandyCole         BrandyCole.com

Let’s go back several weeks ago. I received a phone call from a friend and juggernaut of a business woman, Lylette Pizarro-McLean. The Conversation started as normal then towards the end asked me how I felt about our current administration. I paused and asked “You mean our President?” Which is something I have never chatted with her about. I said I was fine with it. That I love the Obamas. She then revealed she has been working on a project and would like to invite me to the White House Summit for the United State of Women. I was floored and excited. I said yes of course. Lylette and Rene McLean at RPM GRP and RPM MSC are amazing.

Over the next several weeks I received emails with bits of information from the White House. Everything came in sections. It all happened so quick.
______________________________________________________________________________________________


Friday — June 10, 2016: I gave my dog Falkor a Presidential escort, with US Flags and all, to his daycare then jetted off to Washington D.C. Excited. Nervous. Overwhelmed. Confident. I did not know what to expect. I prepared the best I knew how. The one thing I did know, I was going to take advantage of every moment I could. That night when I landed my friend Elizabeth Seminario is a ACD as well. We went and had dinner. I wanted to talk to her before the events to come. It was really interesting  to hear her speak about the advertising industry and her experiences. Before I left I had conversations with other people in advertising to get all of their views.
______________________________________________________________________________________________


Saturday — June 11, 2016: I did any last minute things I felt I needed to prepare for. The night before I had received an email listing out several things we would not be allowed to bring into the summit. So needed to do some adjustments there. I also planned out my outfits. I was very fortunate that Melissa McCarthy, CEO of Melissa McCarthy Seven 7 Rachel Barnard, and Jenny Duong sent some clothes for each day from her new summer line. She even tweeted and instagrammed out what I wore. My mohawk was done by celebrity hairstylist Robert Rea. He mixed a special color for a strip of my hair called Presidential Blue.  
______________________________________________________________________________________________


Sunday — June 12, 2016: after calling my brother to tell him Happy Birthday I wanted to walk around D.C. and really take everything in. Prepare myself for the upcoming days. Also pay respect to my family who have not only served but have spent time in D.C. This was a special day. I was very fortunate to have a personal escort that is a Combat Veteran of the Iraq War. He walked me around to the Washington Monument, National WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Organization of American States, DAR Constitution Hall, American National Red Cross, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the White House, US Department of Treasury, Capitol Hill and many more. Yes we spent all day walking. He gave me the history and background of everything. Sunday night I started getting butterflies in my stomach. Knowing I was attending my first event early in the morning.
______________________________________________________________________________________________
In between everything I took a moment of silence and a moment of power for those that were affected by the Orlando Massacre.
______________________________________________________________________________________________


Monday — June 13, 2016: Today was it. I was attending the United State of Women: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Session. The first of many new experiences. I arrived at the Ronald Reagan Building (1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington D.C.). My car dropped me off. I walked in with my Sparkling Peach IZZE in one hand, my ID in another, my mohawk full on, a Stuart Weitzman bag, bright floral pants, dazzling blue blazer and white top. It was like Reese Witherspoon in LEGALLY BLONDE when she first went to Harvard Law. Secret Service all turned around and stared. They guided me through the next steps and I was in. I was legit in a government building. None the less, by the White House. I was the first person to arrive. I tend to get places really early. I walked around taking photos. That is when I met my first group of powerful women. Judy Jae Nash, Erikka Yvonne (she also owns www.eycoagency.com/), and Akissi Naomi. I was already blown away. I had not even walked into the first session.

As I was sitting there a White House member came up and asked a few of us sitting there if we would like to see history in the making by witnessing an agreement being signed by US Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Nely Galán. It was incredible. To see an actual first-ever agreement to this magnitude being signed in person. Still I have not even made it to my first session.

After the signing and some photos I walked back over for the main session to start. It was pretty amazing. Erin Andrew, Assistant Administrator, Office of Women’s Business Ownership, welcomed everyone in and had some opening remarks. She then introduced US Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. She spoke about how important entrepreneurships are and had a fireside chat with Mikaila Ulmer, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Me & the Bees Lemonade (@MikailasBees). WOW...11 years old and dominating!

The next part of the session was a panel about “Women Who Have Made It: Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs.” One of the fastest-growing segments of the economy are women-owned businesses.1 The panel included Lisa Price, CEO, Carol’s Daughter (@CarolsDaughter); Nely Galán, CEO, Adelante Movement (@AdelantePower); Katherine Berman and Sophie LaMontagne, Co-Founders, Georgetown Cupcakes (@GTownCupcake); and moderator Doug Kramer, US SBA Deputy Administrator.

 

The following part of the session was with an incredible amount of knowledge from the US Chief Technology Officer to the President of the United State in the White House, Megan Smith. The knowledge this woman dropped...BLOWN AWAY.  

AFter USCTO Megan Smith there was another incredible panel, “Investing in High Growth Women Entrepreneurs.” Women in the US control $11.2 trillion (39 percent) of the $28.6 trillion investable assets. Women invest for profit and for the future. Shocking women are still underrepresented in many areas like angel investing, venture capital, private equity industry, partners, senior managers, and so on. Mina Pacheco Nazemi, Partner, GCM Grosvenor Private Markets: ALicia Syrett, Pantegrion, Founder, Pantegrion Capital LLC (@AliciaSyrett); Julie Hanna, Board Chair, Kiva (@julesHanna @Kiva); Amy Millman, CEO, Springboard Enterprises (@SpringboardEnt) and moderator Mark Walsh, Associate Administrator, Office of Innovation and Investment, US SBA.

The final part of my day I attended a panel for “Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Inclusive Entrepreneurship.” This panel consisted of Maria Ortiz, CEO, Generation Games (SBA-SBIR recipient, @7GenGames); Jessica O. Matthews, Founder, Uncharted Play (@uplayco); Rachel Payne, Co-Founder, FEM Inc. (@FEMInc) and moderator Sarah Harris, General Counsel, US Patent and Trademark Office (@USPTO). I learned that women are named as inventors on fewer than 1in 5 patents even though more and more women are entering into the science and technology professions. Each of these women shared their stories and personal journeys.  

______________________________________________________________________________________________


Tuesday — June 14, 2016: It has all built up to this. Today was the day I would be walking into a room full of some of the most powerful people in the world.

I woke up at 3:45A EST. Put on my Melissa McCarthy dress. Had a car pick me up. I arrived at 5A EST at the White House United State of Women Summit. I thought being there at 5A I would have arrived before so many. Nope...there was already a lineup. The doors did not even open until 6:30A.

While waiting I made friends in line. One being Natasha Tottie Weston. Motivational speaker and founder of Confessions of an Ambitious Girl.

Doors then opened. We had to go through security and secret service. We proceeded to registration. I do not think I have ever been so proud to represent myself, my hometown Weatherford, TX, RPM GRP, Mere Machine, Hook Studios, women in advertising and music. It was all overwhelming. And exciting.

There were exhibitions and tables upon tables of bagels for breakfast. But I could not eat. Though I did stash one in my bag for later.

We had to line up again to get ready for the main session. I waited. Then heard that we were allowed to come through.

As I walked around the corner my eyes swelled up and short of breath. Seeing the official White House logo with the USOW logo. Hearing the announcement that this is the official White House USOW Summit. I aggressively walked my way to a table in the front. Right in front. Nothing separating me from what was going to happen. I was ready to take in everything.

8:30A finally happened. The sound of Beyoncé “Girls” comes on. The attendees start getting excited.

Plenary Session I: Overall Frame, Health & Wellness and Violence Against Women

Then walks on Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama administration, announcing the event along the side of Tina Tchen, Assistant to President Barack Obama; Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama; and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Valerie and Tine thanked and introduced the co-hosts US Departments of State and Labor, The Aspen Institute and Civic Nation. Along with some sponsors.

Seven and a half years ago President Obama created the first ever White House Council on women and girls to help empower them globally.

The first guests to the stage were a group of Girl Scouts for the National Anthem.
 

After the National Anthem Carol Gstadler talking about improving the lives of women and girls by looking back, at the present and then moving forward. Access to education and putting women in a positive light with positive role models is a huge part of gender equality.

Secret service filled the room.

Megan Yap, a White House Champion of Change honoree who conducts research on how college and university campuses address sexual assault, walked on stage. She spoke a bit about her own rape but knows she can do something now to prevent rape for several survivors and help those that have been.

Yap then introduced Vice President Joe Biden. “Hail Columbia” overtook the speakers and Joe Biden takes the mic. By far one of the most moving speeches I have ever heard. Biden speaks about women and physical violence. How it is worldwide. That physical violence is the abuse of power. If you have not heard this speech. Do yourself...watch it now.

Following VP Biden was Thomas Perez, US Departments of State and Labor. Thomas Perez spoke about how when women succeed the world succeeds. Perez and Higginbottom spoke about how President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And the updates to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. In order for women to succeed you have to give them chances to succeed.

Heather Higginbottom, US Secretary of State, came on to talk about how the participation of women is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. How women are now being educated to decide who they want to marry versus being forced into marriage. Educate women to support themselves economically and put back into the economy. Strengthening the justice system as well to help empower women.

Dr KaKenya Naitya then took stage. It was emotional in the room. She was supposed to be engaged at 5 years old. Genital mutilation as a teenager. WIth no education. She negotiated with her father, her village and made promises. She now has opened a school for women and girls in Kenya.  (click on the link that highlights her name….WOW!) Some stats that Dr KaKenya Naitya spoke about — “One in three girls are forced into early marriages. 28 girls every single minute. 200 Million women and girls are having mutilation cutting. Before I finish speaking and additional 8 will be undergoing cutting in Africa today.”

Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, came on to speak. Walter spoke to how important it is to bring diverse ideas to the table. He spoke about how we need new conversations and solutions to help empower women and girls.  

Tony Award Winning Playwright and the creator of a new one-man show Sarah Jones walked in but with many of her characters. She spoke about championing women in our own authentic voices. That generations and backgrounds should not exclude anyone which would be “restrictalous” a word she made up of RESTRICTIVE and RIDICULOUS.

Mariska Hargitay, actress and founder of Joyful Heart Foundation, came on and spoke. At times emotional talking about how victims should not be blamed. That the backlog of untested rape kits representing survivors that deserve justice and perpetrators that deserve jail time. She has made the rape kit backlog the Joyful Heart’s number one priority.

Matt McGorry and Quentin Walcott were then introduced. Both walking out confidently and saying how they are both proud feminists. They were there to speak about their support for gender equality and how men can support women’s issues. That men can be allies. And how men can be allies. That men need to link arms to stop violence against women.

 

Joanne Smith, Founder/Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equality from New York. Joanne spoke about a movement that is happening. That today women are disrupting the status quo. That women are educating themselves and standing up against gender based violence and color based violence.  

Kristin Avery, Director of It’s On Us spoke on how we are fundamentally shifting on how we think about sexual assault. Shaquil Keels, US Naval Academy, stood by Kristin speaking about how he was first involved when he found out a good friend of his had been sexually assaulted. He expressed how he felt helpless. That he did not know what to do. So it motivated him to get involved. Jess Davidson then followed expressing how she is dedicating her life and career to stop sexual assault and support survivors. She wrote a piece in the Huffington Post called “My Rapist Night Not Know He’s A Rapist.” She said you can change the world by getting mad. And she hopes that sexual assault makes you mad so we can all change the world.

The day continued with one life-altering story after another.

Next was Jaha Dukureh. I can not even imagine. This is even hard to write about. Tears come to my eyes thinking what she has gone through yet tears of joy what she has accomplished. At one week she had female genital mutilation. She was married by the age of 15. She has made her life vow to stop violence against women. She believes it is as simple as subscribing to what some feel gender roles are like women in the kitchen. Many believe and act upon violence against women in many cases is a solution to a problem. Most women like her (Jaha) will never make it as far as she has. She represents their suffering, their pain, their success, their strength, their determination and their strength. There is no imperfection to a woman’s vagina. A birth of a daughter should be celebrated as much as the birth of a son. And child marriage should be a thing of the past. Just by adjusting everyday attitudes and investing in women so much can change.

After her speech and a quick breath was the next presenter.

Bamby Salcedo, Latina Transgender Activist, spoke about stopping the attacks against transgender women in the community. She along with other live their lives authentically but are being killed. The conversation needs to be had amongst us (the people) and the government oh how trans people are human. On how to create opportunities in housing, education, career, health and civil rights. We need to invest in the leadership of trans people especially trans women of color.

Actress and activist, Connie Britton, then graced the stage. She spoke about women’s health. How we do not have time for the interference of people making choices for our own bodies. Reproductive rights are important and she praised the current administration for helping protect this. And for helping more women have access to healthcare. Connie introduced Cecile Richards, activist and President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She speaks about the current administration and how they have helped women have access to birth control without copay and access to other women’s. That transgenders should be able to have access to healthcare without judgement. Cecile introduced, Grecia Magdaleno, who has benefitted from the access to women’s healthcare. She spoke about how she attended a highly religious and conservative school who shamed a woman in her class for being pregnant and she could not come out as a queer woman for fear of being expelled and it forced her into abusive relationships. She spoke about how Planned Parenthood helped her with health care when her family went through a hard time.   

 

Connie then introduced another group of women who are trailblazing healthcare. Jo Ann Jenkins, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AARP. She spoke about how there is a group of women and individuals who do not qualify for medicare and no longer have access to their normal health care or can even afford it. And how AARP has been able to help with that. Her mission is to make sure people of all ages have access to health care.

Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children, came on to speak about some basics of survival. Health care, education, and protection. She shared a personal story when she traveled to India. She met a woman who gave birth in her house and the baby died. Already awful enough. But she walked out of the house and there was a hospital right in front of her house. She asked the woman why she did not go to the hospital. She said because she was too poor. No woman, mother, child should die of poverty. She works on education for women and girls.

Dr. Carol Brown then spoke about women’s healthcare. How she is focused on gynecological cancers. She covered ways to prevent and tips on what to do if you do get cancer.

Dr Sonia Vallabh and Dr Eric Minikel came on talking about a heart-wrenching and rare disease that Sonia discovered she had after seeing her mother pass. She will see the same fate. Her and her husband did not have biological background. They changed careers, went to school and studied. They are now Doctors and founder of the Prion Alliance. They really believe in education and precision care.

The Plenary Session then broke into smaller sessions.

Plenary Session II: Economics, Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The day already has been overwhelming and so much information. Great, valuable, and much needed information.

Valerie Jarrett came back on introducing the next session. The focus is on Economics, entrepreneurship and innovation. She covered the limited companies who are starting to enforce equal pay. No woman should make any less than any man doing the same job. Hollywood and advertising were referenced as two of the biggest offenders as far as industries out there.

To speak more about it Patricia Arquette came on stage to talk about the American SHERO, Lilly Ledbetter, who brought the fact equal pay was not happening. Therefore the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 came into effect. Patricia gave some very real and very unsettling facts. It took until April 12, 2016 and all of 2015 for women to make what a man makes in just 2015. African American equal payday is not until August 23, 2016. Native American is not until September 13, 2016. Latina equal payday isn’t until November 1, 2016. Serious action needs to take place to stop the pay gap, pregnancy bias, and unconscious bias. Asking what one makes before going to another job and paying off that salary. It needs to all stop. The US has the largest group of elderly women in poverty. Do the right thing and look at your own pay data.

Heather Boushey, Executive Director and Chief Economist, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, spoke about how women are not just half the population but have the economy. Women are reshaping the American economy. Women increased the economy $1.7 trillion since 2012. When women have access to education and jobs. It helps boost the economy. When there is a gender wage gap it affects a loss between 20% - 35% (depending on country) in gross domestic product. There are 865 million women who can contribute to their economies. Most in developing countries. The American wife has become the American worker. They are not only the mothers, they are the breadwinners but still earn 79 cents to the male dollar. And depending on color and experience the gender wage gap is larger. We are no longer in the world of “Leave It To Beaver” but our business structure and gender pay gap is still there. There is a belief we all have that silent partner at home taking care of everything for us. 75 years ago the first woman to lead a federal agency to help put into law and define the legislation for the rules that govern boundaries between life and work. The US is one of the richest nations the world has ever seen. There is no reason why we can not fix our labor market to value women at home and in the workplace. It will do nothing but help the economy.

Women in small businesses have helped the economy. A video with Tory Burch and the Tory Burch Foundation was played. The foundation empowers women and their small businesses. We saw several stories of women coming up with very creative and helpful businesses. The women highlighted in the video came on stage and were introduced by Laurie Fabiano, President of the Tory Burch Foundation. Laurie spoke about the program and the economy. She covered small business loans and how women have to payback a higher interest than men.

Dina Habib Powell, Head of Goldman Sachs’ Impact Investing Business and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, Goldman Sachs, and Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway, sat down and had a chat. It started with a GOLDMAN SACHS 10,000 Women video. They spoke about the women in the video and had a couple of them on the panel. Carla Walker Miller, President and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy, spoke about her business in Detroit. How the people that have been there along with the new people that are coming in for the Detroit revitalization. Ayo Megbope, Founder No Left Overs. She spoke about her own trials from people patronizing her to now mentoring women and helping them with capital. Warren said that America needs to look at their past and how they only used part of their talent. So imagine how powerful if America were to use 100% of their talent. Women invest in their families and those around them. Women need the opportunities to succeed. A strong support system. Warren gave some tips in running a business. He said (if you could write this on your mirror or somewhere you can see it every day) “Don’t just satisfy your customer. Delight your customer.” He said he always remembers how one is treated by the person you are doing business with. No how much something costs. This goes for coworkers.

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader, then came on speaking about how innovation can and will open doors for many areas. Including the government. She said if we starting opening civility and less with money then more women will be in the government. She mentioned that it had been a 100 years since a woman was elected to Congress. But now there are a 108. Several over them walked on stage.

Another mind blowing part of the session is when 11 year old Mikaila Ulmer, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Me & the Bees Lemonade (@MikailasBees), took the stage. To think she is 11 and dominating the world. She also gave one of the most impressive intros...to the President of the United States Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama took the stage with “Hail to the Chief” playing proudly. His presence was undeniable but may have been trumped a little by Mikaila. President Obama started off saying “I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like.” Needless to say he brought down the house. Obama had so many great things to say. If you want to see the transcript you can go here or the speech go here. He speaks though we have come a long way we have not come far enough. That we need to do better.     

 

Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU, who is the first female president of SEIU. She spoke about how when we unite and stand up together we can make a difference in our country. There is so much we have won the right to do as women. But there is more to do. To truly transform the American economy we need to invest in the work women. A video was shown of some real life situations that women have been put in to choose. It was taking the impossible to possible. Mary then introduced a panel:  Lilly Ledbetter, Betzaida Ventura, Kevin Burton, and Charmagne Davis. Each woman shared their experience and what they have overcome. Each one in the end had positive impact by empowering women.

Actress Kerry Washington spoke about financial abuse and her work with Purple Purse. 99% of domestic abuse cases have financial abuse. The #1 reason many can not leave an abusive relationship is financial dependency. Empowering communities economically can help domestic violence end.

Julie Hanna, Board Chair, Kiva (@julesHanna @Kiva), graced the stage. Today is the most hopeful truth she knows. That one dream can transform into a million realities. She spoke about how dreams born out of her own heritage as an Egyptian, a refugee and immigrant in the war (Black September) where bombs were falling on their heads. They lived in a hole for weeks upon weeks. She was lucky and escaped to the United States. She said over time that even though there were kind people to help them along the way she noticed there was a look on people’s faces when they heard the story. There was a look on her parents faces. But she did not know what this was or how to explain. It wasn’t until she was an adult to understand that with every look was dignity being chipped away and deep shame. She learned that if your circumstances are broken that does not mean you are broken. She dreamed of a better future and it saved her life. She learned that pity is the near enemy of compassion. She dreamed of a world that dignity is a human right. She dreamed of a world that talent is a universal and opportunity is not. She dreamed of a world where justice is fair access and that technology could enable that fair access that her family could not get. She spoke of how many loans are out there and that 75% are women. She gave a few examples of these women.

Alex Gorsky, CEO and Chairman, and Seina Lee, Johnson & Johnson, took the stage. Alex and Seina spoke about companies who do the right thing. Alex went into detail about their heartfelt commitment to women. Dating all the way back to 1886. Seina shared a personal story of her rough pregnancy. And how her career was progressing fast and furiously at J&J. She spoke about her determination how she would not let motherhood penalize her career. This is how many women feel. J&J changed their policies for extended parental leave. Seina was able to ease back in part-time then full-time.
 

Angela Glover Blackwell, President and CEO of Policy Link, spoke about women of color and how they are disportionately living in poverty. That many are living below the poverty level. That 32% of white, 46% of black and latino families are living in poverty. It hurts and affects families and children. So many women that are living in poverty do not have access to education and opportunity. Or even communities that can provide any support. Where you live in proximity to opportunity is important. Providing a form of transportation can make a difference.

Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, spoke of the united women of the world. 3.5 billion women. The UN Women works with governments, society, private sectors and others to make women a priority and gender equality. The UN Women is committed to transform women in society. Not only is economic and education important, that bodily and reproductive protection is important. All of this is only possible when society is active in making it happen. She spoke about how important the He For She organization is for educating men. That we are striving for 50/50 by 2030. She is calling upon everyone for gender equality, stop violence and to be the flag bearers of women’s empowerment. Gender equality is not just an American dream. It is mission possible. She wants everyone to say it out loud: Women have, women are and women will change the world to achieve planet 50/50 by 2030.

 

Then Prosperity Women came onto stage. It is composed of several women who represent women’s groups around the US. They are focused on bringing women together to help focus on leadership. There was alot to cover here so I suggest going and watching the presentation here.

Elizabeth Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO, spoke about young leaders and young negotiation skills. Ariana Davis joined her to talk about the 6.8 million working women. They highlighted about the gender inequality, time off and other forms of discrimination. They went over a big, but not new, idea...a union. Stronger collectively that apart. Working women have alot to come together about to make movements for women. Ariana spoke about her participation in a union. And how it gave her confidence. It helped her find her voice.

Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney General, spoke about safe places for all women. Home is not always a place for safety especially for the LGBTQ community. She spoke about how the Orlando attack was terrorism on many levels. And one being that it happened in a safe place where the LGBTQ community goes. A call for solidarity, safety and community to help stop violent attacks.

I was not in this session but Robert Liodice spoke about how women are severely lacking in advertising. Glen Mazzara, Writers Guild of America West,  was in this session as well. He said that diversity in itself is a racist and sexist term. Because it implies from a white male able-bodied perspective. That most writers rooms are boys clubs.


Plenary Session III: Educational Opportunity, Civic Engagement & Leadership
Next up was actress and activist Sophia Bush. She spoke to her passion of empowerment to women and girls. And having access to education. 62 million girls are not in school. A vital component to any solution would be to ensure these girls have access to food, water, healthcare and education. If half of any population can not contribute to their community. No society will develop. She brought up a 11 year old activist, Marley Dias. Marley started #1000BlackGirlBooks. She noticed that in her 5th grade class that none of her books had black girls in them. She told her mother. He mother asked what she was going to do about it. So she started collecting upwards of 7000 books that had black girls as the main character and has dispersed them to communities that do not have these books.

Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nobiva came out to speak with Dahoite. Nobiva grew up in a shack in South Africa. She said her circumstances would lead her to being doomed but Mom Oprah changed her life. She gave her a chance. She guided her that when her mother died of AIDS that it did not take her spirit. Dahoite’s family came from the Congo. First Lady Michelle Obama has been a life changing mentor.    

Both ladies then introduced First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

Needless to say the place shut down. Everyone went wild. They actually had more secret service and security that the President and Vice President.

Both women came out hand-in-hand. Gave the two presenters hugs. (to watch this section go here.)

Oprah started with an exciting start in her style. FLOTUS took a moment to talk about Orlando.

Both women started chatting. We acknowledged the men who are and have been supporting gender equality. Michelle then expressed how knowing who you are is very important. And getting to know yourself is what one needs to do before you can do anything. In many situations do not limit yourself with expectations. You will need to navigate yourself and do things your way. Some realities are that men do not have to balance several things. They have women there to do it. But when women go into the workforce. Theys till have to balance home life, kids and additional items. Building a support system is important. Surround yourself with goodness. Get rid of the haters. She continued how she is energized by so many people she meets. Constantly connecting with people will help change your life and theirs. The haters and doubters will leave your life. Oprah quoted one of her favorite quotes by dr Martin Luther King Jr. “Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.” She used this quote to shift the platform of the way she used and saw television. Though FLOTUS tries to have very normal moments in her life, she is fortunate to have moments that make her go MMMM MMMM MMM. Watching Prince and Stevie Wonder perform in the White House. MMMM MMMM MMM. Watching her kids and her mother with the Pope. MMMM MMMM MMM. Having dinner with the Queen of England. MMMM MMMM MMM. Watching her husband President Barack Obama get off Marine One and go to the Oval Office. MMMM MMMM MMM. She said he’s got that walk. The swag. Swagalicious. Oprah asked FLOTUS what she thinks men could do. She said “Be better.” <eyebrow raised> “Be better at everything.” “Be a solid example of what it looks like to be a good man.” Both women talked about balance. Is it a false notion for women? FLOTUS said she is irritated by the whole “you can have it all” statement and it making people feeling less than because you may not have it all at once. She then started throwing shade at people on Facebook lying about having it all. YA’LL LYING ;) Oprah concluded with the quote to Michelle Obama. “You make me proud to spell my name W-O-M-A-N.”

A video of Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden then came on. The video covered the military and and coming together. That women in the military are some of the most resilient and resourceful members.

General Lori J. Robinson was named the first ever female combatant commander. She now commands over 100,000 troops. She is one of the nation’s experts in cyber security. Lori spoke about her family history in the military and women’s roles. She continued to go through her journey. From the moment was sworn in until now and the future. The military is about attitude. That when seeing an opportunity the seize it. Lori then highlighted a few more women in the military and some first women to be in their positions.  


Actress, producer, comedian, writer Amy Poehler came on. She is asking “what’s next?” She has been blown away by the stats throughout the day and the women in the room. She spoke about her organization Amy Smart Girls. How highlighting women in a strong way and not as sidekicks. Not only can we do what a man can do but we can do many things better and our frustration comes from when people get in the way from us being at the wheel. Let us drive. We will get you there faster and safer.  
 

Billie Jean King, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, and Shonda Rhimes speak about how women are trailblazing and the women’s movement. That criticism comes along with making changes. They speak about how rising up and obliterate them. Shonda says she does listen to the criticism. Good or bad. They did what the felt was right and what they wanted to do for other women.

The day ended with a series of unbelievable events that I wish I could share but I know that it was by far one of the most life-altering days of my life.        

______________________________________________________________________________________________
Wednesday — June 15, 2016: I would be lying if I said I was not exhausted. Especially after yesterday. But I was still determined to make the most of everything. I attended a session at the US Department of Education — “Shattering Stereotypes - Creating Opportunities for Women and Girls in Non-Traditional Career and Technical Education Fields.” To see the whole session you can go here.

Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, opened the session by introducing leaders that are helping with education.

Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary of the US Department of Education, spoke about how the USOW event the day before was a huge step for changing the game of education and promising practices for the education of women. Ted spoke about going in a bit deeper about technical education and career. How to break down barriers.    

Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary, Office of Civil Rights, is the voice for those that may not have them. She stands up and speaks out against discrimination. She went into detail about they make sure there is non-discrimination in schools and education when it comes to gender. She helps schools understand Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs and activities. She shared some more stories and examples of how the Office of Civil Rights can help those in similar situations. Lhamon then introduced Samantha Dorwin, Machine Technology Student, McCann Technical School. Samantha spoke about CTE (career and Technical Education) has helped her achieve a career path that some may consider non-traditional for women. She just sees it as a skillset that she has.

Johan Uvin, Acting Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, came up as the moderator for a panel of educators. Mary Wilson Arrasmith, Dr Jo Ann Fey, Andrea Martinez, and David Lloyd. Each shared ways of educating and counseling of women and girls in technical and high demand careers. Each also talked about that it is very important for the educators to know and have access to information to share. There is so much with construction trades, science and technology that can help redesign careers and advising. Putting students first will keep one focused on how they move forward. Continuing to learn from one another is part of the survival and creating visions. There were a series of audience members asking questions.

John B. King Jr., Secretary of education for the US Department of Education, then spoke to the equity of access to technical education. How it builds a vision for students and gives a full range of opportunities. That is it important for students know there is a wide range of possibilities. That being a women should never give them the feeling that they are limited. That there are a variety fields that any man or woman can do. There is a real challenge of women being underrepresented in technical programs.     

Alejandra Ceja concluded the session thanking everyone and how being a part of this historic event is the right way to move forward.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

1 National Women’s Business Council: Women-owned businesses grew 38% from 2007 to 2012