By Lea M. Cash –
This year more than 30,000 women from all walks of life, arrived at the Long Beach Convention Center, for six separate events covering three full days of inspiration and motivation to become an architect of change in their own lives, within their communities and around the world. This conference, in its 24th year, held by the Governor of California, has evolved with the assistance of First Lady, Maria Shiver to be the largest and most dynamic conference for women in the world. More than 140 leading newsmakers and world opinion leaders from Suze Orman, Lisa Ling, Caroline Kennedy, to Deepak Chopra and Dr. Mehmet Oz gathered to assist with the education, inspiration and empowerment of women.
Every year, tickets sell out and for this year’s Main Event, the tickets sold out in less than one hour. All the 2010 conference events sold out as well which is why the conference has swelled to three days of full activities, which included a full measure of book signings. This year’s theme produced around the overarching theme of “It’s Time,” was intended to inspire women to see this challenging moment in history as an opportunity to come together and transform themselves and their communities as Architects of Change.
For a reporter, sometimes this event is overwhelming because there is so much to report that is inspiring and uplifting in every way, so one sticks to the simple basics and speaks in general terms to describe this truly amazing conference. For example, the conference workshops held topic discussions on health, finances, self-esteem, leadership, overcoming the unimaginable, wardrobes, creating your business, weight loss, marriage and relationships, and using your voice for change. Each of this workshops hosted by leading voices like Martha Beck, Paula Deen, Jessica Simpson, Goldie Hawn, Robert Redford and so many others like Rosario Dawson, Gayle King, and Lisa Leslie. First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, was an opening session speaker. She said, “The beauty of this conference – the space it provides for us as women to just be ourselves, and to speak honestly and openly about the issues that matter most to us. And I’d like to do that once again today. I’d like to speak today about an issue that I care deeply about, and talk with you about how I came to it why it matters so much to me and why I think it should matter to all women – and all Americans.” She spoke about women in the military, military spouses and their children.
NBC’s news anchor, Matt Lauer, hosted a discussion with Governor Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman who are California’s Gubernational Candidates. This discussion was heated and humorous reflecting the true colors of each candidate up close and personal. The afternoon Lunch Session produced Brian Williams, NBC’s Nightly News, anchor hosting a conversation with Phil Knight, Co-Founder of Nike, and Howard Schultz, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company he founded, Starbucks. Then ABC’s World News Anchor, Diane Sawyer, hosts a conversation with legal giants, the honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Associate Justice and the honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, former Associate Justice.
Each session host and their attendees entertained discussions designed to inspire and empower women from their experiences learned in life.
The Grand Finale and The Minerva Awards closed out the three-day celebration of events continuing the legacy of honoring remarkable women. This was hosted by First Lady, Maria Shriver and featured remarks by Azure Antoinette, a poet and spoken word artist, Mary J. Blige, a Grammy Award winner, singer and songwriter and by the five 2010 Minerva Award honorees: Oprah Winfrey, The Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, Oral Lee Brown, Sister Terry Dodge and Carolyn Blashek. The Grand Finale ended with a special musical performance by Sarah McLachlan, also a Grammy Award winner singer and songwriter.
Women cried and women hugged throughout the entire conference as many of their truths unfolded as inspiration was nurtured and delivered. Knowing in their hearts that this was heart talk, celebrating their achievements and to re-examine the future possibilities of how they can lead in the environmental, social, political and business scenes as Architects of Change—but, mostly and perhaps, the most important heart talk of all leaned towards raising and maintaining their families.
First Lady, Maria Shriver said, “Beginning in January, the leadership of this conference will transition over to the next administration, as it always has. We are grateful to have this opportunity and hope this year’s conference has inspired you to see as an opportunity to come together and transform ourselves, our communities, and our world as Architects of Change.”