There really are no words to describe how incredible the past week was for me. If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Twitter, you know that last Wednesday I hopped on a plane and headed for Miami to attend the first-ever, highly-anticipated ColorComm Conference at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne.
ColorComm is a professional organization for women of color in communications that I serve on the leadership team for, currently as the communications director for the New York chapter. In only its second year as an official membership organization, ColorComm held its first national conference with over 200 women from around the country.
I knew the conference was going to be great, but Lauren Wesley Wilson (in the blue dress above), ColorComm’s founder and president, completely and totally blew us all away.
She and the ColorComm Conference team really pulled out all the stops to wow guests, which included influential women like lauded journalist Soledad O’Brien, former White House Social Secretary and current Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers, Editor-In-Chief of Essence Vanessa Bush, and rapper/entertainer MC Lyte, just to name a few.
I have been to my share of professional conferences over my decade-long career as a PR & marketing professional, but I can honestly say I have never, ever been to one that matched what went down over those 3 days last week. Women came from far and wide to learn from one another, to be inspired, to party a little bit, and to build new relationships and friendships that will help us all get to the next level both professionally and personally.
It was so refreshing to be among so many other women who were not only interested in bettering themselves, but also in supporting and embracing other women of color as we all climb to the top.
Describing the conference in a 500-word blog post will not even begin to do it justice, but here were some of the highlights for me:
Day one kicked off with the Toyota VIP reception where I got to take the stage to introduce two trailblazers in the industry—Celebrity Publicist & Activist Terrie Williams and Latondra Newton, Toyota’s highest ranking African American female executive in the world.
The ColorComm Circle Awards later that night honored eight women in communications who are shattering glass ceilings. Soledad O’Brien took the stage to honor the awards recipients and to tell us a little bit about her own journey to where she is today. I had the opportunity to chat with her one-on-one earlier that evening and it was nice to encounter someone so humble and relatable, despite being one of the most well-known and accomplished journalists of color in our era.
Day two was filled with interactive sessions and discussions. Gloria Mayfield Banks, the Harvard MBA turned Mary Kay multi-millionaire kicked off the day with a right-on-time keynote. One of the most memorable and impactful pieces of insight she shared with us all was, “Never take advice from people you don’t want to trade places with.”
And in a discussion on women of color ‘leaning forward’, Dr. Jane Smith of Spelman College encouraged us to approach the workplace fearlessly as women, telling us that sometimes we as women have to look in the mirror and remind ourselves, “You are smart as hell, quick as hell and you have a voice!”
Day three ended on a high note with Desiree Rogers, who candidly shared some of her greatest successes and failures on her way to becoming known as one of the greatest business women of our time. She left us with these words of wisdom, “Seek an opportunity that speaks not only to your intellect, but to your heart.”
I’m still getting goosebumps going through all my notes from the conference, which I took in this fabulous notebook that was given to us in our goodie bags and featured one of my favorite quotes of all time from Coco Chanel.
I absolutely cannot wait for next years conference which will again take place in Miami on July 29-31, 2015! For more information about the ColorComm Conference and how you can attend next year, visit www.ColorCommConference.com.
(Some of the photos featured in the post are courtesy of Tosin Fagbemi for ColorComm)