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The Take-Over: Philly “Bowed Down” to Women-Powered Conferences

Breaking / Carousel / Feature Interviews / SS Special Coverage / Syreeta on the Scene / November 1, 2016

Let’s first set the tone here: As I’m typing this, the song “Flawless” has just gone off and “Run the World” is blasting in the background.

What kind can I say? This post is hella Beyonce theme-song worthy.

Over the past two months I’ve had the pleasure of either producing, participating in, or attending some of the most powerful conferences for women in the tri-state region.

Of course there was the 4th Annual Women in Media Conference, which Encouraged, Empowered,  and Equipped women in media to think globally and “cross borders.” In addition to honoring Tracy Davidson of NBC10 Philadelphia, WIM Philly also received a Citation from the City of Philadelphia for the work that we’ve done over the years as a community partner of the non-profit, Influencing Action Movement.

Then there was the The Fearless Conference.

Organized for ambitious women by the incredibly “bad-ass” Melissa Alam, founder and editor-in-chief of Femme & Fortune Magazine this conference connected women from diverse walks of life and motivated us all to own our badassness. I had the honor of moderating a discussion that focused on eliminating fear and saying yes to a new career. Little did I know, less than three weeks later I would actually be saying yes to a new career that came in the form of a 9-5 job! (You know there’s a blog post about that coming. Haha!)

fearlessconf

But it was the Pennsylvania Conference for Women (the largest of its kind in the state that welcomed thousands of women to the Pennsylvania Convention Center this year) that I was super excited to have the honor of experiencing as an attendee. I’ve been wanting to go for years…and finally: VOILA!

Luvvie Ajayi of AwesomelyLuvvie.com

Luvvie Ajayi of AwesomelyLuvvie.com | Photo Credit: Getty Images

In addition to learning from some of the best via networking, keynote addresses, book signings, dining and great workshops (“Think Differently: Feeling Confident about Taking the Lesser Known Path” was awesome and featured one of my absolute favorites Luvvie Ajay), I also had the opportunity to interview Aria Finger, CEO of DoSomething.org, the largest nonprofit organization in the world for young people who want to make social change. As you loves know, I don’t take our youth, their power, or their purpose lightly. (Which is why it did my heart great good to see that students from Haverford High School represented their school at the conference.)

Anywho, with over 5.3 million members in 130 countries creating volunteer campaigns for just about any cause that you can think of, there’s no doubt that DoSomething knows how to get youth engaged.

However, after having worked with youth for over a decade, one thing I’ve come to realize is that they have more power, knowledge, and awareness than we tend to give them credit for.

“Sometimes the power is believing things that other people would think is impossible,” said Finger.

She paused to share an example of the power of youth and their audacity:

ariafinger-2

Aria Finger | Photo Credit: Getty Images

In 2011 DoSomething had less that 100k members. Finger and her co-workers, who she says were all relatively young at the time, set a goal to have 5 million members by the end of 2015. They didn’t know how they were going to accomplish it and they didn’t have a plan; they only knew what they wanted to see happen.

“We put it out there and we hit 5 million members in February of last year, so we missed it by two months but hey…I think that spirit of dreaming is really positive.”

When she accepted the invitation to appear at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, her goal was to engage, enlighten and educate attendees about the core behaviors of successful leaders. Here she shares five ways that we can get young Philadelphian’s engaged in making our city better.

  1. Listen to them. So often we talk about youth instead of talking with youth. Ask for their opinion.
  2. Be relevant. A lot of people try to talk to young people about what they want them to do. Again, if you’re more relevant to their lives, they’re more likely to stick to something and to take action.
  3. Volunteerism should be social and it should be fun. At DoSomething we have a good time and a lot of our campaigns are really fun and funny, and that’s okay! Because if what you’re doing is social and you’re doing it with your friends, you’re more likely to come back and do it again! And that’s really wonderful.
  4. Give them ideas. That’s what we do at DoSomething: we hear that young people care about this issue or that issue and so we work with them to create a campaign that’s relevant to them.
  5. Show the impact. People really want to see the impact of their work so as much as you can close the loop and make people feel like they’re really making a difference—that’s great!

In addition to sharing the aforementioned tips, she also offers a message for young Philadelphian’s:

“People say that [your] generation is apathetic, and it’s just not true. Everyone cares about something,” she says.

“Fight the inaction and just DO SOMETHING. Whatever it is, no matter how small—don’t feel like you have to do something big—just get involved.”

This message of “do something” also rang throughout the conference, especially the keynote addresses delivered by Abby Wambach (retired forward of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team), Anita Hill (leader of the civil rights and women’s rights movements), and Annie Clark (co-founder and executive director of the national non-profit End Rape On Campus).

Women everywhere are certainly DOING SOMETHING and the world is clearly feeling the effects of a global shift that I believe is rewriting history right before our eyes.

What’s that you said, Beyonce? Oh:

My persuasion can build a nation
Endless power, with our love we can devour

Click here to view highlights, watch keynotes and listen to breakout sessions from the conference.

[Photo album credit: Getty Images]

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– Sincerely Syreeta


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