Generation Wow–Generation W

By Mia Hall

On Friday, April 5th in Jacksonville, Florida, Generation W held their Annual conference at the University of North Florida.

Were it not for the inspiring, encouraging, and empowering women in my life, I would not be living out my dreams today. The gratitude I have for these women lives forever in my heart; and I saw it, felt it and tasted it – on the stage, in the seats, in the cupcakes, and throughout the hallways of UNF’s Fine Arts Center, where the conference was held.

Picture1Reflecting back on the day, I realize how important it is for women to come together and support each other in forums such as these. When we come together, we can ignite change in statistics including the infamous line that notes the disparity of women and men’s pay for equal work (except in Technology as I learned from Gerri Elliott).

The opening video was featured a young girl in a park with spark that could light up a stadium. The phenomenal five year-old not only charged us to be as “awesome” as we can be, but reminded us that we need to make an impact in the world not only for ourselves, but also the young women that will succeed us.

Donna Orender, the mastermind behind and CEO of Generation W, and the reason I had the great opportunity of attending, continued to keep the energy in the room high, as she welcomed all the attendees. She shared stories of those who were personally and professionally impacted from attending last year’s conference, and brought more women along with them this year. She also spoke of the Generation W Now fund and the Women’s Giving Alliance. I am a firm believer that we are here to make difference in the world and assist those who cannot assist themselves and am happy that this group has been established. After Donna gave recognition to the sponsors, shoutouts to the legendary Rosa Gatti, and more, it was time for the Keynote Address.

Carolyn Buck-Luce and Rob Evans described Transformational Leadership through the lens of their honeymoon on Mount Kilimanjaro! Their journey up the mountain was compared to our journey in life and had several similarities. There were several bold points that I received from this panel, including that some of our greatest learning comes from our biggest challenges. Further, that though most women were raised to be a “good girl,” we must not let this hold us back from taking risks in order to achieve our greatest goals.

We then heard from the panel “Can Women Have it All?” Statistics such as 4% of Fortune 500 hundred companies are led by women and others mentioned in Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” were hot topics of discussion. Most of the speakers agreed that there needs to be more women in leadership positions; nonetheless, the women that want to raise a family should not have to choose one or the other.  Choice is what matters.  

National journalist and sports broadcaster Jemele Hill led the “For Love or Money, Why not both?” panel. With many of the women from sports backgrounds, we had an opportunity to hear from leaders in women’s athletics and media about the progress of ESPN W and the WNBA, the impact of the phenomenal women of the 2012 Olympics, and the problem with people only arguing about the homophobic slurs the Rutgers coach who was verbally abusive to his players dished out, and more. They also spoke of the importance of media in the progression of women’s sports. It made me remember why I became so interested in writing and spreading the word about great women’s stories that may not be covered otherwise.

We then heard from the governor of Florida, whose speech was followed by lunch. I went to a breakout session led by one of my co-Generation W Bloggers, Celeste Blackman, where I learned about the “Power of Connection.”

Through Celeste’s workshop I discovered that it is not about being mean, or a pushover, but finding a place in the middle where I can keep my personality but also have people take me seriously. “When you go in a room, do not wait for another person to speak to you or introduce themselves, you go first,” Celeste encouraged. “Start small – don’t try to drain the ocean – practice coming out of your comfort zone a few times per week.Instead of letting you know about the whole day, I would like to give you the opportunity to attend yourself, in 2014. I would also encourage women to reflect on how they can help one another to progress by supporting a local conference, helping get a story get published in the media, or creating an event of your own where women can share strategies for personal and professional growth.

Read the original post here.


miaAbout the Author
Mia Hall is a sports and entertainment reporter specializing in the business of sport. She has worked with organizations such as the NBA, NY Knicks, Black Enterprise, The Basketball Channel, The High School of Sports Management, and is currently with the new Barclay’s Center. She is passionate about the youth of today and committed to nonprofits such as PowerPlay NYC, Inc. and other youth empowering organizations.