By Jeannine LaRue
Publisher of LaRuelist Report
On June 1st, the Metro Women’s Leadership Summit will be held at Newark International Airport Marriott and is expected to welcome 700+ participants. The theme is “Climbing Redefining the Ladder,” and will feature multiple breakout sessions under the banners of Leadership, Finance, Health and Political Activism. The Marriott provides numerous rooms for specific breakouts in each of the four breakout periods; two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Among the many talented speakers will be Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver and First Lady Tammy Murphy. The full list of speakers is a cast of who’s who among women leaders in New Jersey! I am so excited to join the scores of women speakers and attendees at this long overdue women’s event.
For me, this Summit brings back precious memories of our first NJ Women’s Summit. In 1993, I pulled together a group of women from diverse socio-economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds to organize the New Jersey Women’s Summit. A dedicated politically-inclined group of women from higher ed, corporations, non-profit organizations, and women’s groups signed onto my vision of a three-day women’s summit. It was so very amazing to see scores of women and supporters of women coming to the table and hammering out a conference agenda on issues affecting women throughout the Garden State.
The tons of naysayers quickly said we’d never get more than 30-35 women to sign up for a conference to talk about issues strictly affecting women. I and the dedicated committee members debunked and dismissed that negative discussion. The first NJ Women’s Summit attracted 550 women and men at the Cherry Hill Hilton. The event outgrew the Hilton in its second year and was moved to the Brunswick Hilton in New Brunswick, NJ with attendees growing to almost 1,000 women and men. A couple of years later, Governor Christine Todd Whitman renamed the NJ Women’s Summit to the Governor’s Conference for Women which ultimately attracted more than 2,500 women and men and featured phenomenal keynote speakers such as Dr. Maya Angelou, Robin Roberts, Suze Orman, and Star Jones. Every governor thereafter held an annual Governor’s Conference for Women. On the 20th anniversary (2013) of this magnificent statewide event, Governor Chris Christie disbanded the conference and it no longer exists today.
Kudos to the many brilliant, well-connected women who have been hosting and sponsoring thriving women’s conferences over the past several years in the absence of a statewide event. I am encouraged by what appears to be a focus of our new Governor Phil Murphy that women deserve a seat at the table and our voices should be heard. I am super encouraged by the visibility of our First Lady Tammy Murphy and the vision of our Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver who has always been a champion of women.
I’m looking forward to the Metro Women’s Leadership Summit! It will serve as one more outlet for women and men to meet up and discuss issues that affect us on a daily basis. Hope to meet you there! Click here for more information about registration and the event’s program.