Four Days of Empowerment

Sheila Johnson, Ruby Dee Davis, others share wisdom at Women of Power Summit

marketing and business operations for the New York Knicks in January 2006, Browne-Sanders filed a sexual harassment suit against Madison Square Garden and Isiah Thomas. The parties eventually reached an $11.5 million settlement. Browne Sanders granted BLACK ENTERPRISE and Star Jones the first and only interview following the settlement.

When asked why she chose this forum for the interview, Browne Sanders said, “I felt empowered and I think it is so important to have a dialogue with women who are coming up through the ranks who at some point in their career are going to be faced with adversity and knowing that there is recourse. It’s so important to stand on integrity and stand on character and to have a strong backing.”

Browne Sanders added, “I think that the environment that I was in particularly, I really tried to focus on the things that I enjoyed about my job and not allow that to be the chip on my shoulder. And I think it is important for us black women, as women of color that are going to be constantly be faced with the need to be 20 times better than our male counterparts or our white counterparts, to have the resolve, to have a strong backbone, and to figure out from every situation what are you learning? What could you have done better? What can you do better in the next situation to avoid some of those pitfalls?”
One of the most popular sessions of the event was the Creating Your Playbook for Success: Why Talent is Not Enough, moderated by Andréa Bradford, senior vice president, organizational consultant, and executive coach with Right Management. Panelists included Shirley W. Bridges, CIO, president and CEO of Delta Airlines; Joyce M. Roché, president and CEO of Girls Inc.; and Debra A. Sandler, worldwide president of McNeil Nutritionals L.L.C.

Sandler suggests that all young women need the following three things in their playbook: “The first part of the playbook is how are you going to get the job done? Talent is critical. Ask yourself, ‘Do I need training? Who are the people in the company that are excellent at this? How do I model myself after what they do and how they do it?’ The second thing is how do I build a network? A personal and professional network is about having champions, mentors, and supporters. At the end of the day, when the door is closed, who’s going to be able to speak on your behalf?” “The other thing is really be flexible. Figure out how to be true to yourself and what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses and be open to criticism.”

The conference wasn’t without moments of fun. Acclaimed singers and songwriters Brian McKnight and Jill Scott headlined the all-star entertainment and each morning began with either a boot camp Cha-Cha or Latin Fusion, where instructors taught the latest dance moves. Evenings were filled with shopping excursions or a fashion show.

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