Posted in Professional Development, WIT

Inspiration from the MA Conference for Women 2020

I was privileged to be able to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women on December 10, 2020. I went last year and was inspired from the moment I stepped foot in the convention center. (Here’s my blog post about that event.) I was curious to see what would happen this year when it was moved to a virtual event.

Starting my day at the conference

I think I got my answer watching the number of the keynote attendees steadily increase to over 10,000 in 10-15 minutes. Just seeing so many say hello and where they were from was incredible to watch.

I was hoping to catch most of the sessions in the week after the conference was over but I wasn’t able to. But I was able to catch a fair number of sessions as well as the two keynote sessions. I thought I’d share some of the quotes that inspired me and challenged me the most, along with some context when I can. Some of these just stand on their own.

Opening Keynote:

Mallika Chopra (@mallikachopra)

“I am”

Mallika Chopra led a mediation that had us saying the words “I am”. At some point, I was conscious of saying those words as I was breathing in and out. There was something pretty powerful about that sensation.

Iyanla Vanzant (@IyanlaVanzant) was a surprise addition for the morning keynote.

“Fear Not”

I wish I could remember the context, but nope. But her “Fear Not” stuck with me.
Me, Lisa Ling, and Awkwafina #virtualselfie

Awkwafina (@awkwafina), interviewed by Lisa Ling (@lisaling):

I remember Lisa Ling from the Channel One days. Awkwafina talked about navigating her career in Hollywood. I was already a fan but I’m more of one now listening to how down to earth she is.

“Diversity and Representation are two different things.”


Midday Keynote:

My #virtualselfie with Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin (@doriskgoodwin):
I didn’t write down any quotes. I think I was too in awe of the history she was sharing and thinking about those in context of our modern America. It’s a good reminder as to why we study history.

Alicia Keys and me #virtualselfie

Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys), interviewed by Ellen McGirt (@ellmcgirt)

“We are who we need”

“Let’s continue to be fierce. Let’s continue to be a force.”

Alicia Keys

“Ask the question: who’s not in the room and why?”

This was said by Ellen McGirt in their conversation talking about how do you make sure everyone is represented. I don’t remember the full quote, but it was along these lines.

Breakout Sessions:

Leadership Reinvention with Lisa Nichols (@2motivate)

I felt like I was being showered with motivational praises. I loved every second of it! And Lisa Nichols’ story of how she got to where she is was also inspiring.

“Spend quiet time with the divine”

“Set the temperature when you walk in the room”

“Failure is feedback”

“Lessons on Leading Through Change” with Admiral Michelle Howard (wiki)

Admiral Howard was the first woman Annapolis grad to reach the rank of admiral, the first African-American woman to command a ship, the first African-American woman in any of the military services to reach three stars, and the first four-star female admiral in the Navy. (I’m borrowing this from her conference bio. I don’t want to get her creds wrong.) She was another amazing woman who was just so down-to-earth.

“If you can’t inspire yourself, how can you inspire others?”

“All’s fair with fighting pirates.”

“Confronting Injustice: Being Actively Anti-Racist” with Rachel Cargle (@rachelcargle)

“Knowledge + empathy + racism”

I know I’m missing some context for this but this was the key for being actively anti-racist.

“Waking Up White: Moving from Bystander to Allyship” with Debby Irving (@debbyirving) and Ritu Bhasin (@ritu_bhasin)

“Learn new stuff. Do the research.”

Debby Irving on how you move into true allyship.

“Recoding Code Switching” with Caroline Wanga (@wangawoman)

I feel like this session could be a whole blog post by itself. Caroline Wanga spoke about code switching, which is changing yourself to fit the environment. It was a great talk about how to learn who you are and understand code switching so you can bring yourself to the room, so to speak.

“Who you are is who you are.”

“Script the flip.”

“Architect your authenticity.”

“Life is not about weathering the storm but about knowing how to dance in the rain”

This was a quote that inspired Caroline Wanga. I did some research and it looks like it’s commonly attributed to Vivian Greene.

Reading through these quotes, I don’t know if can give them enough justice. Some of the stand alone while some really do require the fuller context. I do wish I had more time to watch all of the sessions. But I do have a list of books that I need to go back and read now.

There so much to these different topics that I look forward to learning about and continue to be inspired by as we go into the new year. Hopefully, some of these will inspire you as well.


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