8 Reasons the 2014 NC Women’s Summit was the BEST DAY EVER

Emma Battle at the Women's SummitYou might have heard that Women AdvaNCe threw a little shindig last week. We spent Friday hanging out with 200 of our closest friends at the NC State Talley Center, and OH MY GOSH was it awesome. From start to finish the day was amazing, and we were floored as our state’s smartest and most powerful women shared their stories and helped plan NC’s future.

We could probably write about 15,000 words on how much the Summit meant to us, but because we love you and respect your attention span, we thought we’d boil the day down to our eight favorite moments. In the coming weeks, we’ll release video of every panel and every speaker so that you can join our reverie. In the meantime, you’ll have to rely on our memories and those of all your friends who attended.

  1. Driving to the Summit and hearing WUNC’s Catherine Brand interview Women AdvaNCe Board Chair Laura Edwards for a preview of the day. What a great way to get pumped!
  2. Emma Battle, CEO of Success360i, belting out, “I am strong… I am invincible… I am WOMAN.” Battle spoke as part of the Working Families panel, and she shared her conflicted feelings about women’s need to have it all. As a business leader, Battle faces pressures to be a superhero, a struggle she said no one expects from men working in executive careers. Battle also sang the old Enjoli commercial, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man,” as an illustration of the outdated and unfair expectations we place on women in the workforce.
  3. Total superstar and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Jocelyn Frye, giving the room a collective case of goosebumps. Frye has held a number of high-profile jobs, including working on the First Lady’s staff and serving as General Counsel for the National Partnership for Women and Families. During her keynote address, Frye touched on the need for fair pay, fair benefits, and health care for all women. “What we need,” she said, “is an agenda that doesn’t depend on who you step over, but who you bring along.” Bonus fact about Frye: her husband joined her for her NC trip, and spent the first five minutes of her talk proudly snapping pictures of her at the lectern.
  4. Working Families panel moderator Nancy MacLean challenging us to greatness. “They say 10 women can change anything,” MacLean said. “So I look around this room and I think, hmm. What can 150 women do?” The women at Friday’s summit traveled from the mountains and the coast, and boy, were they ready to make change! With the collective leadership and smarts in that room, we’re pretty sure there’s no challenge too big for these women. We’re guessing by next year’s summit this year’s attendees will have solved global warming, invented a new social media network, and will have inspired 100% voter participation in their counties.
  5. Dr. Stephanie Baker White, Women’s Health panelist and UNC-Greensboro professor of public health, bringing us all to tears. White described the effects of institutional racism on the health of mothers, and described the school-to-prison pipeline that punishes families of color. She told the story of her friend who, a few weeks ago, was surrounded by police while talking on the phone in a Durham parking lot. It was terrifying for him, but she focused on the health impact for his daughter, who stayed on the phone, begging her father to comply with the police, lest he be hurt. Mothers, sisters, and daughters bear a considerable mental health burden when the men they love are unfairly targeted and punished, White said.
  6. Women AdvaNCe board member Amy Tiemann jumping to the stage to share her epiphany after spending a day listening to the leaders. Through storytelling, fact sharing, and talks from actual stakeholders, a narrative emerged that Tiemann could not ignore. Women in North Carolina need healthcare, financial security, education that works, and an environment free of racism and unjust consequences. A vast majority of those issues, Tiemann said, come back to budgetary needs. She invites everyone to join her in advocating for a state budget that fills the needs of all women.
  7. Eryn Byrd, Director of Blueprint NC, giving us a five-point, step-by-step plan of what we need to come together and move forward:
    1. Practice self care.
    2. Work towards intersectionality.
    3. Bring people who are actually affected by issues to the front of the room.
    4. Create the next generation of leadership; step out of the way so new leaders can arise
    5. Vote. Vote. Vote. Create and agenda, raise up homegrown leaders, support women.
  8. An amazing post-Summit reception at Raleigh Brewing Company. Brewery owner Kristie Nystedt joined us for the Summit and then opened up her tap room for attendees afterward. Although the Summit was a-ma-zing, the casual chats that took place over beers and wine afterward were nothing short of miraculous. Women from all over the state networked, laughed, chatted, and made genuine connections. It couldn’t have been better.

What did we miss? Tweet us or comment below to share your favorite parts of the 2014 NC Women’s Summit.




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