BLACK ENTERPRISE hit the red carpet for TIME’s star-studded Women of The Year gala where phenomenal women were honored for their strides toward equity across generations.
Among the attendees and honorees were law professor and president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherilynn Ifill, Olympic track and field star Allyson Felix, actress and activists Kerry Washington, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, and licensed midwife Jennie Joseph.
The event was in celebration of TIME’s inaugural list recognizing 12 extraordinary female leaders working toward a more inclusive world for all. Held on International Women’s Day, the commemoration brought together extraordinary trailblazers for a series of essential conversations about impact and equality.
Speaking with Sherrilynn Ifill, who is also set to be honored at BLACK ENTERPRISE’S Women of Power Summit, she highlighted her groundbreaking work as the second woman to lead the Thurgood Marshall-founded Legal Defense Fund.
“I’ve been able to steward extraordinary growth, and to really be a voice for our people, and to have a powerful strategy to address all of the issues that we face around voter suppression and police violence, and so forth,” Ifill shared.
“I think it matters that it’s a Black woman leading that organization, a Black woman fully prepared, fully capable, with long experience as a civil rights lawyer and a law professor, I’m bringing that kind of excellence into the room.”
Speaking with Allyson Felix, the seven-time Olympic gold medalist explained why she decided to implement a four-month parental leave policy at her apparel company Saysh.
“It was really important to me, when I, as I’m building the company, I really want it to tackle what I have felt,” Felix explained.
“I want women to know their worth and their value and know that this is a place where we see them, and we hear them.”
“I knew that I wanted to have a really strong policy and I really want to listen to the women on our team about what would help them and what would encourage them and uplift them to be able to be present at home, but also to be able to come back and want to still contribute at work.”
British-trained midwife Jennie Joseph shared the importance of working with women from diverse backgrounds in her fight to tackle the Black maternal health crisis.
“It’s so important, in fact, it’s the key,” Joseph said.
“We have the worst disparities in the United States, Black women, Native American women, Latinas. We are suffering three to four times the amount of white women when it comes to infant and maternal mortality.”
“We must diversify not only the workforce, but we have to diversify the fact that we need to have more access to equitable care, to safer care to quality care,” she continued.
“That’s really the reason behind the problem. People think it’s race. No, it’s racism. It’s classism. It’s sexism. That’s the message and that’s what has to change. And we could do that right away if we just choose.”
Pose star MJ Rodgriguez is still reeling over her historical Golden Globe win earlier this year as the first trans actress to win for best actress in a television drama. She shared how she has started to step fully into her power as a woman in this new phase of life.
“I’m living like I’ve never lived before,” Rodriguez said. “And now that I’m in this part of the year of my life, in general, I’m taking this horse, and I’m riding it all the way into the sunset.”
Scandal star Kerry Washington shared her excitement to be surrounded by so many powerhouse women and highlighted the importance of working with women from diverse backgrounds.
“It’s everything. The the more inclusive and diverse our communities, our conversations, the stronger we are,” Washington said.