Speakers Empower Attendees of 10th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference
There is something so magical that happens when you put a large group of women together in one room. The air is electrifying, and the 10th annual Riverside County Women’s Leadership Conference left the women and men who attended the event stronger, more empowered, and excited to tackle challenges head on.
In a first ever hybrid showing, over 400 people poured into Crossroads Church and over 75 logged onto their computers to hear from eleven dynamic women from all walks of life and a passionate panel of physicians who answered healthcare questions submitted by attendees.
The morning started early with breakfast, 30 exhibitors, and lots of networking and photo ops, then kicked off with event chairs Mary Barnett and Angie Byars ascending the stage to Carrie Underwood’s “The Champion.”
The song chosen by each speaker as they entered and departed set the tone for what they’d be sharing and how diverse the personalities were. The Founder of the WLC, Riverside County Supervisor Board Chair Karen Spiegel, showed her patriotism with “God Bless the U.S.A.” then dove right into her topic, Grit. She emphasized the importance of positive self-talk and challenged the audience to find 10 positive comments to say to others each day. When you make others feel good, it comes full circle.
Fireball Kathy Armstrong got the party started by encouraging everyone to dance “I’m Still Standing” and shared about her difficult journey immigrating to the U.S. as a teenager, not knowing the language or anyone. It was tenacity and a drive to never give up that got her through tough times and kept her focused on her goals. Kathy encouraged the audience to ask themselves ‘Why not me?’ when self-doubt starts to creep in.
The next speaker, Sonja Prince, painted a picture for attendees about how we are conditioned to act or believe certain “truths” and how to use your own personal belief system to propel and move yourself forward to achieve whatever you desire. Quiet contemplation, affirmations, and leaning in will help you get what you want.
Arvee Robinson discussed using our voices to stand up, speak up, and lead. The world is waiting for you to realize your worth! She asked attendees to repeat after her several times in saying: I am woman, hear me speak, watch me lead. You could hear the confidence rising with each repetition. Chills.
Griselda Beck brought us back to some quiet moments of introspection. Her discussion on the struggle that many women feel in asking for support helped others know they’re not alone. It’s typical for women to overburden themselves in taking care of everyone else first, and Griselda held a metaphorical mirror up when she said that the first promises we break are usually to ourselves. She encouraged attendees to stop judging themselves, be committed to asking themselves ‘What do I want today?’ and having the confidence to go for it. She also made some attendees blush when the discussion turned to sex. Griselda proclaimed that women must own their orgasms, speak up for what they want in the bedroom, and that the confidence found there would have an effect outside as well.
The last speaker of the first half of the conference, Dr. Cassandra Sanders-Holly, captured the audience’s attention when she proclaimed that work-life balance is garbage. The theory that we must wait until work is over or some other external thing to happen before we can begin to be happy is not true. We must create our own happiness. When we stop searching for it and start pursuing meaning, that’s the key. She also shared that you cannot have joy without sadness, and that happiness is not singular, that it is multi-faceted. When do we for others, it also impacts ourselves positively.
After a brief break, Angie and Mary got attendees back on their feet for a fun game of “Heads or Tails”, where one lucky guest won a 50” TV! The healthcare panel was next up, with moderators Ruth Jaffe and Linda Pearson asking the burning questions on everyone’s minds. Dr. Arti Amin, podiatrist with Corona Regional Medical Center, Dr. Renanda Stevenson, nurse practitioner with Citrus Valley Medical Associates, and Dr. Nellie Sgambelluri, women’s healthcare provider with Kaiser Permanente shared about the dangers of pedicures, the safety of fasting, and ways to prepare for menopause, among other topics.
The infectious ditty of “Handclap” set the tone for Emily Falappino’s inspiring message emboldening attendees to stop waiting and take action. She stressed that inspiration is not a feeling you have to wait for, that there’s no fairy coming to sprinkle you with inspiration. It is a verb of cause and effect, and should not be confused with motivation. “We tend to live as if time is ours,” Emily shared, “but no time is owed or promised to you. You cannot wait to be inspired by something arbitrary.” Inspiration is a life giving, state of mind being that you control.
2019 and 2020 WLC chair Jan Steiner took the stage next, this time as a speaker focused on the topic Reimagine, and conveyed her story of breaking barriers, building a business, and reimagining her path after retirement. She emboldened attendees to choose how they react when life gets tough, stating they can either freeze, have a pity party, or get moving and make dust. Things happen to us, but it is our choice to either be pitiful or powerful, a paraphrased quote she shared by author Joyce Meyer. An empathetic leader, Jan let the audience know that it’s ok to have a pity party sometimes, but that there needs to be a time limit set. She also reminded us to take our strengths and grow them to be the best version of ourselves. “A catcher doesn’t try to be a pitcher.”
As the sound of “Underdog” wove through the auditorium, Dr. Alia Rodriguez’s vulnerability in sharing about her background endeared her to viewers. She reminded participants that we all have a story, but how you overcome the adversity in your life is what makes you resilient. She didn’t sugarcoat her words when stating that you have to be willing to put in the work—that resilience is a mindset. She encouraged the embracing of failure as an opportunity and stressed not becoming a victim to one’s circumstances. Make your story your superpower. She closed with the reading of a poem by Antonio Pereira, The Stone.
At 85, Robbie Motter’s story of achievement was an inspirational focal point of the day. She was raised in 26 foster homes, leaving “home” on a Greyhound bus at age 14 to get a job. She found herself in San Francisco working for Levi Strauss, and the rest, as they say, is history. She worked her way through big corporations all over the U.S., and the day another woman refused to teach her something was the day Robbie decided to make it her mission to help others by sharing her knowledge with as many women as possible. Robbie asserted, “Your past has nothing to do with your future, and obstacles are opportunities waiting to happen, so what are you doing to take action?” Show up. “And remember, we are not in competition, we are in collaboration! So who can you collaborate with?”
Closing speaker Dianne Callahan kept the audience engaged until the very end the moment she exclaimed, “Beauty is a bitch! She’s a liar and a thief,” and talked about societal expectations imposed upon women. “We tell ourselves we are not worthy,” she said, but we should be celebrated for our strengths and imperfections. The climactic moment Dianne tore her jacket off, exposing her personal weak spot, her arms, the audience erupted in applause.
Each speaker’s talk echoed another’s, and several repeating themes were heard. This half-day event was generously sponsored by 25 businesses who believe in uplifting women, for an empowered woman can conquer the world as boldly and lovingly as she can care for her family and community. Those who were unable to attend this event can still purchase access to the video replay by contacting the Corona Chamber at (951) CHAMBER (242-6237).