Getting the Future You Deserve

Transcript of Caroline Clarke’s welcome speech at the Women of Power Legacy Awards Dinner.

Thanks to all of you for joining us for the fifth annual Woman of Power Legacy Awards Dinner.


Whatever you came through to get here – whether you made the beautiful drive from LA or flew a snowplow through the skies en route from the East coast, we are so glad you are here!

Not everyone was this lucky, so we have had to make some tweaks to the program that will be noted as they occur.

This is going to be a fantastic week! And I don’t know about you, but it’s come right on time for me!

This gathering takes place at a historic moment marked by steep challenges and unprecedented opportunities. We’ve all come through what, for many of us, has been the most challenging year of our professional lives and, perhaps, our personal lives too.

The twelve months since we last gathered together have been extraordinary, for both their soaring highs and life-changing lows. And none of us has been left unscathed. But we are all still standing, aren’t we ladies? But we are here and pressing on!

Whether in the ascension of Ursula Burns to the CEO’s seat at Xerox or in the grateful face of a young Haitian woman recovered from beneath the rubble an astonishing two weeks after that country’s devastating earthquake, we show the world time and time again that black women are survivors.

We are thrivers. We are odds-defiers. We are constantly setting our sights higher and higher and higher and, as our president said in last month’s State of the Union address, “we will not stop!”

We all understand that we are living in a remarkable time, one in which sweeping changes far beyond our control have dramatically altered the corporate landscape. But here’s the good news: The paths to power remain open to those with the will and talent to pursue them.

And those same sweeping changes have forced us to grow, to adapt, to refocus, and recommit to managing our lives and careers with an emphasis on that which we can always control: our goals…our efforts…our expectations…and our resolve to reach our full potential no matter what.

That’s what this Summit is all about: providing you with the tools and inspiration you need to take the path of your choice to the future you deserve.

For four decades, the achievements of African American women entrepreneurs and professionals have been central to the mission of Black Enterprise, which has chronicled our progress in business on its pages since the early 1970s.

That tradition continues throughout all of Black Enterprise‘s media and business ventures for the simple reason that we, African American women, have always been a source of strength, ingenuity, and renewal for our community and as such, we deserve to be both recognized and celebrated.

In other words, we’re in for an extraordinary evening, and Black Enterprise is proud to bring it to you with the generous support of our title sponsor, our good friends at State Farm Insurance. State Farm has proven itself an able and involved partner in the production of this year’s summit, so I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their contribution and to introduce one of State Farm’s own women of power who helped make it all happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Louise Perrin, Heartland Zone, Senior Vice President for State Farm.