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Women Lead NC Event: A Day of Learning, Growth, and Networking for Triangle Women

Opening keynote session speaker Judge Victoria Pratt

At last Wednesday’s Women Lead NC: Raleigh, nearly 800 women and their male allies attended the NC Chamber’s premier conference of the year. Sessions and topics included learning more about being allies to other women, strategies for career advancement, leadership development, and achieving work-life balance. The following, include a couple of session highlights.

Opening Keynote Session: Women’s Empowerment Unleashing Your Gift

The opening session began with a motivational keynote from Judge Victoria Pratt, who is a criminal justice reform activist and former Chief Judge from Newark, New Jersey. The topic of her talk was Women’s Empowerment: Unleashing Your Gift—and her advice was nothing short of empowering for the audience who gave her a standing ovation at the end of session.

She led the topic off by discussing how saying ‘no’ is debilitating for many women and that how the voice inside our heads telling us we ‘cannot’ do something is equally as debilitating for professional growth. She also discussed the importance of surrounding yourself with a worthy peer group, noting a Harvard study which indicates that your individual success is 90% determined by your peer group. Lastly, she discussed the importance of not letting one failure define you or your career.

A few memorable quotes from this session included:

  • You will hear the voice of doubt in your head right before you experience a big change.
  • Your inner-critic is trying to stop you from feeling pain – but blocks out not just pain – it blocks out joy and your ability to accomplish your goals.
  • In your uniqueness, you’re able to accomplish your hopes and dreams.
  • Failure is not a characteristic. It is an event. An event cannot change itself, but a human being has the ability and willingness to change circumstances.
  • You must train yourself every minute to not feed your brain self-defeating thoughts. You must tell yourself that this is just a season in your life.
  • You must pick a peer group that works harder than you – they will lift you, not leave you.
L-R: Debra Derr, NC Chamber Government Affairs Directors; City of Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin; Karen Howard, Chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners; and Demi Dowdy, Director of Communications for Speaker Moore.

Politics, Policy, Power, and YOU

No matter the party affiliation, there are now more women in the NC General Assembly than ever before. The objective of the Politics, Policy, Power, and YOU panel discussion was to take a deeper look at the impact of politics, policies, and power dynamics, regardless of one’s profession.

The session’s impressive roster of panelists included: City of Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin; Demi Dowdy, Director of Communications for Speaker Moore; and Karen Howard, Chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.

The three speakers focused on the unique challenges and opportunities that present themselves from being a woman in government.

“Women have to be asked to run for office seven times,” said Mayor Baldwin as she called on women on the room to consider a run for office.

A few memorable quotes from that session included:

  • Baldwin: It’s all about the people we put in power. And if we keep electing the same people, we’re going to get the same result. We must support each other.
  • Howard: Most of the time the taunts come from cowards. When you’re scared, do it anyway. They’re counting on us being intimidated.
  • Dowdy: We need to support women who are mothers. We’re losing valuable voices. If you are a state house member, your salary is something like $13K per year, which poses a huge challenge for bringing diverse voices and perspectives. That’s a huge challenge of the General Assembly.

Interested in attending next year’s Women Lead NC: Raleigh? Sign up for registration alerts here. All photos from the conference can be found here.