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This is my first Women of Power Summit, but my expectations are high. For the past two years, I have seen the lucky few return to the office practically glowing as they described what a wonderful experience they had and how inspiring it was to be in the company of so many accomplished women, all willing to share their stories and their strategies.
The sharing started early—before I’d even landed in Palm Springs, in fact. On my connecting flight from LAX, I was sitting next to another woman traveling to the conference. It was a turbo prop plane; there was more than a little turbulence; and by the time we landed, I was holding her hand in mine to keep her calm. I never even got her name.
It was a bumpy start, literally, but as soon as I stepped off the plane and saw the mountain backdrop, I knew I was in the right place for a weekend of renewal. The sense of awe I felt for the natural landscape was soon replaced by awe-like respect for the achievements of our four Legacy Award winners.
I am not the most sentimental person (after all, there’s a good reason journalists have a reputation for being jaded), but even I had to fight the urge to tear up when Ann Fudge looked out at the sea of women there to honor her and instead expressed her pride in us, noting that this assembly of black women in corporate America would not have been possible 10 years ago and seemingly choking back a tear herself as she said “This is why I stayed.”
There were other touching moments, such as when Ruby Dee Davis held up her award and whispered “To Ossie.” There were humorous moments as well, mostly provided by Nikki Giovanni. But mostly there were powerful moments … moments of recognition of the sisterhood that comes from a common struggle.
“When we started this journey there were very few of us on the road,” Giovanni said. That is no longer the case, as the hundreds of women in attendance here prove. And that is perhaps the most lasting impression of this first night of the summit. It’s something I think we all thought but which Dorothy Height put into words: “It’s great to feel the strength that’s in this room.”