15 Memorable Moments from the Women of Power Summit
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15 Memorable Moments from the Women of Power Summit

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Bishop Vashti McKenzie on stage at the 2019 Women of Power Summit (Image: File)

Imagine walking into a room of leading women and being embraced by hundreds of smiles and hugs.

The Women of Power Summit is a one-of-a-kind experience. The amount of intentionality woven into every detail of the event is a standard that was set 15 years ago by the late and incomparable Barbara Graves. After identifying the need for black women to have an intimate space where they could show up authentically; get the tools they need to build as they climb the corporate ladder; build community, and be celebrated—the then Women of Power Leadership Summit, now affectionately known as the Women of Power Summit, was born!

Each year, women come with great expectations looking to build lifelong professional and personal bonds and to gather to celebrate themselves. Over the past 14 years, thousands of women have gathered to celebrate one another’s accomplishments, network, and honor themselves by investing in their personal and professional development.

Related: Black Enterprise Celebrates 15 Years of Honoring the Power and Legacies of Black Women

In addition to the sisterhood, Black Enterprise has also had the distinguished honor of having a host of phenomenal women speak at the Summit. As we approach the 15th Annual Women of Power Summit hosted by ADP at the Mirage in Las Vegas, we are highlighting some of the most memorable moments.

Take a look for yourself. And, don’t forget to grab your tickets today so that you don’t miss out on the opportunity to make new memories with us this year!

15 Unforgettable Moments


1. The legacy of Mrs. Barbara Graves, Creator of the Women of Power Summit

In the earliest years, watching my mother-in-law, who was by then a grandmother technically retired, truly step into her own power and helm an event, was amazing. She had worked at BE for years but always shunned the spotlight and did not even like it when my father-in-law introduced her from the stage. Yet she was passionate about these women, the uphill battle they faced and how determined they were. She was so proud of them, of their ambitions and accomplishments. I think she must have wondered at times how her own career might have been different if she’d been 20 years younger. She brought all of that to bear each time she spoke, and her genuineness resonated deeply with the audience. They looked up to her, and that was beautiful to see. —Caroline V. Clarke, Chief Brand Officer, Women of Power


2. The Women of Power energy.

The best parts of the Summit for me though, truly, don’t happen on stage. It’s in the hallways, the bathroom, or an airport when women approach me, sometimes tearfully, to tell me what the Summit has meant to them, to talk about what it’s done for them, how it’s made all the difference in their confidence, in their understanding of what it takes to level up, in their sense of what’s ultimately possible for them, or what’s next. They make true and lasting friends at the Summit. They find mentors and prayer partners, discover strengths (and weaknesses) they didn’t know were there. They get bolder, stronger, better because they get poured into from all directions. Some leave with a new vision for their lives; some get new jobs as a result of coming. There’s no end to the possibilities of what you leave the Summit with, if you arrive with an open heart, ready to give and receive. —Caroline V. Clarke, Chief Brand Officer of Women of Power

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3. Donna Brazile, 2018 Legacy Award winner, telling her truth from the main stage!

If you know anything about Donna Brazile, you know that she does not play any games! At the 2018 Women of Power Summit, she took the stage for a powerful one-one-one conversation with Caroline Clarke, chief brand officer of Women of Power, about her journey (as a veteran Democratic political strategist and former chair of the Democratic National Committee) that left women in awe. Her realness and sense of humor when it came to being a black woman with political power coupled with her story about her journey was admirable. Whether you were in the room, watching the livestream, or retweeting the gems she was dropping on Twitter, here are 10 takeaways from Brazile’s moment center stage.

4. Bishop Vashti’s powerful sermon and dancing from the stage.

5. Kamala Harris’ 2019 address.

In the annals of leadership, there is no higher office than the president of the United States and perhaps no tougher moment during which to seek that office than now. Interviewed by fellow lawyer Star Jones, Harris, the first black woman candidate to run in almost 50 years talks about “The Truths We Hold,” and the hopes she harbors as she steps into the biggest race of her storied career.

6. Stacey Abrams for president 2024?

Big takeaways from some of the boldest and most historic campaigns of our time. Meet the women who despite tough odds and high stakes had the tenacity and temerity to seek power.

7. Iyanla Vanzant’s powerful keynote.

8. Honoring Amsale Aberra as a 2012 Legacy Award winner.

Amsale Aberra is an Ethiopian American fashion designer and entrepreneur. A designer of couture wedding gowns, she opened her flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City. In 2012, Black Enterprise honored her with its Women of Power Legacy award.

9. Cynt Marshall’s riveting fireside chat!

Legacy Award Honoree Cynt Marshall walked into a raging #MeToo fire at the Dallas Mavericks after being handpicked by owner Mark Cuban to put it out. Find out how this AT&T veteran and the Queen of HASU (Hook a Sister Up!) transitioned into a role she never saw coming and is leading an organizational transformation that is being eyed as a template for the entire NBA and beyond, all in the last 12 months.

10. Honoring Ruby Dee as a 2008 Legacy Award winner.

The Emmy Award-winning actress Ruby Dee has credits that include The Jackie Robinson Story, A Raisin in the Sun, and Do the Right Thing. She also earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in American Gangster. In 2008, Ruby Dee earned a Black Enterprise Women of Power Legacy Award.

11.  Ursula Burns keeping it real about corporate America!

Ursula Burns, former chair and CEO of Xerox tells her journey to the C-suite that makes her the first African American woman to run a top, publicly traded corporation.

12. Honoring Dorothy Height as a 2008 Legacy Award winner.

Dorothy Height was a civil rights and women’s rights activist who focused on improving the circumstances and opportunities for African American women. In this candid discussion, she talks about her humble upbringing, her involvement in activism, and her many accomplishments throughout her illustrious career. In 2008, Height earned a Women of Power Legacy Award.

13. Michelle Obama’s welcome address during the Summit!


14. Caroline Clarke’s powerful ode to black women at the 2019 Women of Power Summit.

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Caroline Clarke, Chief Brand Officer of Women of Power

The Women of Power Summit is your center of calm in the midst of the storm. We are, fittingly, at The Mirage and for those of you who are often isolated in your life and work, being here may feel like just that—an illusion of paradise in the midst of a barren desert—almost too good to be true. But I assure you this is no figment of your imagination. This room, these women, and this Summit are every bit as real as they seem and this week will be as life-changing as you allow it to be.


So keep calm and claim this moment and everything that is here for you. Keep calm and tap into the core of what you need and what you offer. Keep calm and trust yourself, trust each other, and trust that you will leave here with everything you hope for, and more than you imagined possible. Keep calm, and carry on with your head held high, remembering that there’s a crown on it. And even if no one else sees it, your sisters do. We do.

Read the full transcription from her speech! 

15. The sisterhood. 

There would be no Women of Power Summit without the sisterhood of women that has grown exponentially over the last 15 years! Join our Women of Power Facebook community and engage with thousands of incredible women!

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We can’t wait to see you in Vegas to create more memories!