This past Tuesday, I was honored to both attend and speak at The United State of Women Summit!
The Summit brought together thought leaders and community members passionate about gender equality, served to celebrate the progress we’ve made throughout the Obama administration and to discuss solutions to continue the work we are doing.
But for me, this event also served as a gorgeous coming together of my career tribe. I’ve been working in the women and girls empowerment space for over 20 years. You meet A LOT of incredible people over the course of two decades, and it was fulfilling and energizing to see hundreds of those people all together at this momentous event.
On Monday night, we kicked off this incredible event with my partners at Mattel and She Should Run. Our welcome dinner brought together leaders from all areas of women’s empowerment from bloggers to entrepreneurs, educators, public servants, and brand executives. I believe Change is a we thing, and this photo only touches the surface on how excited I get when all of the amazing people I know are in the same room!
Lisa McKnight, SVP, Marketing, North America at Mattel
(check out Erin Cutraro trying to photobomb us! 😉 )
Oh, there she is! Erin Cutraro, Co-Founder & CEO of She Should Run
The next morning we headed out to The United State of Women Summit. Over 5,000 leaders were in attendance making so as you can imagine, the energy that filled the space was exhilarating!
The day opened with an address from Vice President Joe Biden. He addressed sexual assault and violence against women, leaving everyone with a very clear message: it’s on us to change the culture for survivors.
After the VP’s speech I had the pleasure of hosting a panel on Revolutionizing Gender Norms. We had an AH-MAZING group of women including Meredith Walker and Amy Poehler – Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party, Jamia Wilson, Executive Director of Women Action Media, Ana Flores, Founder of Latina Bloggers Connect, Juliana Chugg, the EVP and Chief Brand Officer at Mattel, and my colleague Dr. Stacy Smith of the University of Southern California Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative.
Together this panel explored solutions around how to increase diverse representation in the media, deconstruct gender norms, and own our voices and stories.
Two of my favorite Smart Girls!
After the panel – we raced downstairs to get a good seat to hear The PRESIDENT of the United States, Barack Obama, who gave one of the best speeches of his career.
Best line of the President’s speech which was chock-full of amazing sentiment about women’s empowerment was: “I may be a little greyer than I was 8 years ago, but this is what a FEMINIST looks like”. Boom.
And then this happened. I was invited to meet THE FIRST LADY!
I could barely speak but I did manage to utter, “I love you” about a zillion times. I’ve been fortunate to work with The First Lady’s office on important issues like gender stereotypes.
As if all of this excitement wasn’t enough for one day – I had a chance to do a West Wing tour with my friends from Starfish. Starfish is a spectacular organization that is dedicated to unlocking and maximizing the potential of young women in Guatemala to lead transformational change. The two lovely women featured here are leaders in their community and are fighting for education reform in their country.
The next day I definitely had a happiness hangover. I then headed over to the National Academy of Sciences to speak to other thought-leaders about explicit and implicit bias in media and how it impacts our families and children.
In her closing remarks, Michelle Obama spoke about how important it was to open the doors of the White House for people who normally wouldn’t have access. I feel lucky to have been one of those people and they have allowed advocates (or advo-consultants) to use their powerful platform to raise the important issues impacting our women and girls.
It’s events like this, moments in history really, that make me take a step back and reflect on all that has happened over the course of my career. I can hardly believe all of the change I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of throughout my time in this space, and I can hardly wait to see all that’s yet to come!