A novice at transportation to and from The Big Apple, I surprisingly arrived at the Plaza early enough to browse the foyer adjacent to the Grand Ballroom. It had been decorated with a larger than life time line charting the 40 year history of WICT in tandem with the last 40 years of women in history, from Margaret Thatcher’s election to Prime Minister of England, to Sally Ride’s historic trip to space as the first American woman to do so, through Nancy Pelosi’s second ascension to Speaker of the House, being the only woman to do so.
I mingled in the foyer introducing myself to women who appeared to be standing alone, saw some familiar faces from a recent Greater Philadelphia Chapter networking event at QVC, and perused the sponsor list. I love seeing Comcast’s name on that list, because it shows me that Comcast values WICT as much as I do.
The program started with a galvanizing presentation where leaders stepped forth to the microphone sharing what their WICT meant to them, until the stage was brimming over with people. The most poignant statement came from a gentleman, and I am paraphrasing here, who stated that women can reach equality faster with the help of men. WICT President and CEO Maria Brennan expressed her gratitude and excitement over the progress WICT has made in just 40 years, including our long-standing collaboration with NAMIC (National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications), and yearly PAR (Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities, Resources for Work/Life Integration) Initiative report.
After a lunch filled with engaging conversation, our keynote speakers were ABC News Live Anchor & Correspondent Kimberly Brooks and TV & Radio Host/Author/Motivational Speaker Egypt Sherrod. Kimberly Brooks was outstanding as a speaker, remaining authentic and vulnerable, and sharing with us her philosophy on fear. She embraces fear, and takes risks, and demonstrated for us how doing so got her a job in television, working for the Oprah show, which ultimately led to her ability to join Oprah on a trip to South Africa. The words of her father ring true in every risk she takes, as his advice in chasing her goals was “Well Kim, they can’t kill you”.
The highlight for me, and I saved the best for last, was seeing Egypt Sherrod. She transparently explained the listless void we all can find ourselves in when we chase material things and professional success, because those accomplishments do not nourish our souls. Upon self-reflection, she determined the action that filled her spirit with joy was being of service to others. This resonated very deeply with me because I knew exactly what she meant due to my own personal experience. A few years ago, I answered a call for volunteers, more out of ego and boredom than anything selflessly motivated. They needed volunteers to prepare tax returns for low income families and the elderly or disabled thru the IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. I thought to myself “I’m smart and I’m good at math” so it seemed like an easy task. Tax law has about zero to do with math, and the studying and testing for certification was very time consuming. I wanted to quit once I realized how much work it was, but I told myself that I was a woman of my word, and that meant following through. The result was an indescribably wonderful experience filled with joy and complete spiritual fulfillment. Helping people prepare their tax returns was the single most rewarding volunteer work I have ever done. The 2 ½ hours per week to which I committed quickly became 6 hours every Saturday from January to April. I returned for the following year and look forward to the next tax season in my new community. Of course, that’s because I know how much fulfillment it brings to my life. Egypt’s words concisely verbalize the fact I know within my heart. “It’s truly the giving that nurtures the soul.”
I am so pleased to have been afforded this opportunity to attend the luncheon. I was able to make a new friend and hear amazing speakers. I departed feeling inspired and grateful to WICT. It’s a pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful organization. The entire event reminded me of how far women have come in history, and the importance of connecting with one another so we can walk together into the future.