Louis Rams; and Bonita Coleman Stewart, vertical markets director of automotive for Google Inc.
“Pushing your boundaries, taking yourself out of your comfort zone, accepting fear, and taking risks are signs of personal and professional growth,” stresses panelist Amy DuBois Barnett, author of Get Yours! The Girlfriend’s Guide to Having Everything You Ever Dreamed of and More (Broadway; $22.95). “It really means that you are pushing yourself toward everything you are meant to be, that you are realizing your full potential.”
Inspiring keynote messages came from Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, who encouraged women not to be defined by anyone else’s standards, and from Robin Smith, author, psychologist, and regular contributor to The Oprah Winfrey Show, who urged women to reorganize their lives under “new management.”
“There’s a whole piece of emotional and spiritual wholeness that I feel is missing and it’s our birthright,” offers the author of Lies at the Altar: The Truth about Great Marriages (Hyperion; $24.95), affectionately known as Dr. Robin. “We’ve got to reclaim it so that we cannot just lead corporations but we can really lead our own communities and our families into wholeness and joy.”
Although the four-day event was focused on professional development, there were a variety of lifestyle events and sessions for attendees to enjoy. The mornings began with sunrise walks and salsa workouts, after which many attendees joined the audience of the Steve Harvey Morning Show radio program, which was broadcast live from the Summit. There were also golf and tennis clinics, a wine tasting, poker playing, a shopping excursion hosted by Macy’s, and a Ride & Drive hosted by BMW, where based on miles driven by participants, the automotive company donated money toward the fight to eradicate breast cancer. The Entrepreneur Masters Class featured several women who made successful transitions from corporate America to business owner, including Monique Greenwood, CEO of Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns; Nadine Thompson, CEO of Warm Spirit; and Sharen Davis, costume designer for the films Ray and Dreamgirls as well as CEO of Mochee Designs. It was during the Summit that State Farm also announced its partnership with author and medical expert Dr. Ian Smith to encourage African Americans to lose 50 million pounds in an effort to reverse the epidemic of obesity in this country.
Evening activities included the premiere of the theatrical film Dirty Laundry starring Loretta Devine and Jenifer Lewis, a purse fashion show, as well as a musical concert with Charlie Wilson and Chaka Khan, hosted by Steve Harvey.
The Summit opened with the Legacy Awards Dinner, hosted by Pepsi, honoring four dynamic women who have left an indelible mark in their respective fields of entertainment, dance, education, and women’s rights: Suzanne dePasse, chairman and CEO of dePasse Entertainment; Judith Jamison, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University; and Faye Wattleton, president of the Center for the Advancement of Women.
Overall, there were stories, strategies, and warm exchanges of laughter and tears. There were friendships, alliances and mentor/mentee relationships