Women of Power: Let the Festivities Begin

This week kicks off Black Enterprise’s 4th annual Women of Power Summit at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. Each year, the summit brings together professional women of color from all over the nation to enjoy four days of executive leadership workshops, power networking, and lifestyle sessions that provide women the tools to advance their careers and the knowledge to invest in work-life balance.

Alyssa Fant, event manager of Women of Power who calls the summit her “baby,” recalls when the idea of the summit was just a dream: “The process in the beginning was challenging. The readership of Black Enterprise is 50% women yet we had nothing targeting them,” Fant says. “This was the first time we went after the corporate executive market because Black Enterprise is really geared toward entrepreneurship, so this was a completely different model for us. “But based on my comparative analysis in the marketplace, it seemed like it would be a good fit.”

Fant’s hard work paid off. The first year of the summit was a huge success, with high retention rates following for the second and third years. Last year alone, 67% of attendees were sponsored by their companies, which Fant believes shows the investment companies are willing to make for its black female employees.

When planning the event schedule, Fant always keeps a few questions in mind: What are the take-aways going to be? What are the current trends today? And what do women need right now?

As a result, Fant and her team created sessions this year that reflect the state of the economy, with top industry panelists addressing how to recession-proof your career, negotiate major career shifts, and  managing and investing your money properly.

As the new Careers editor, this is my first Women of Power summit with the company. After months of planning, I’m thrilled to be an attendee alongside other members from the executive planning committee including Barbara Graves, vice president and general manager of Earl G. Graves Ltd.; Sonia Alleyne, editorial director at Black Enterprise; Caroline Clark, co-editorial director of the summit; and Kimberly Dawkins, event production coordinator.

I’m looking forward to developing new professional relationships this week with dozens of executive women who I hope inspire me through the stories and conversations we’ll share.

Whether you’re a first-timer like me, a veteran, or a potential attendee, BlackEnterprise.com and the Women of Power Summit invite you to experience the conference by reading our blogs and checking out our pictures that my colleagues Tennille Robison, Small Business editor; Deborah Creighton Skinner, editorial director at BlackEnterprise.com; Lonnie Major, senior photo editor and Black Enterprise magazine; and I will post daily this week. Please visit us at BlackEnterprise.com and follow us on Twitter for daily updates from the summit.

“Women really feel this event is life changing,” Fant says. “I think this is the one conference you can go to and be changed by it in some way either by the connections you make or the decisions you decided to make after.”