An outstanding event… Honoring Women, Daring Dialogue, Real Conversations, held Thursday 3/24/11, Wells Fargo Center, Minneapolis MN. Music filled Wells Fargo History Museum as Wells Fargo’s Employee Choir sang while event attendees mingled, networked and enjoyed a light supper.
HWW Founder and CEO, Nancy Stephan kicked off the meeting and opening Honoring circle, where women introduced themselves and shared how they honor themselves. Tonia Hughes energized the group as she sang “I Believe I Can Fly. www.toniahughes.com. Yvette Trotman, HWW Board member played Caribbean music as she led the women in a dance of introductions.
Philomena Morrissey Satre, V.P. Great Lakes Diversity & Inclusion Moderator and Wells Fargo host introduced the diverse and prestigious panel from different ages, stages, backgrounds and walks of life.
Sue Hammersmith, Panelist, President of Metropolitan State University (www.metrostate.edu), grew up in a small Midwest community in Southern Indiana. When she moved to Minnesota 3 years ago, she said it was easy to feel at home. After living here for a year, she realized there was a lot of hurt, anger, and tension just below the surface and not allowed to come out, because of “Minnesota Nice.” It prohibits having tough conversations. When faced with difficult conversations, President Hammersmith remembers different life experiences lead to difference perspectives. Engaging in real conversations with so many cultures involved takes time and concentrated effort to learn and understand. She keeps that in mind and approaches difficult conversations in a non-reactive manner, draws on common values, listens, and remembers to breathe.
Brenda Fong, Panelist, Wells Fargo Bank, Richfield Store Manager (www.wellsfargo.com), is from Hong Kong. Raised in a family with two very different parents; her father was reserved, quiet and respectful, from a wealthy family who lost everything. She describes him as a dreamer, but conservative. Her mother, the only child of a middle class family, outspoken; raised as a son; taught how to manage the business and negotiate with other business men. Brenda credits her parents’ differences for her adaptability to change. When she came to the US, Brenda realized “Minnesota Nice” helped open people up to those who are different and to what they don’t know. She learned by getting to know people, asking questions, and not being judgmental, enabled her to have real conversation and make friends. Brenda believes the most important thing is to bring your authentic self to work and know your business. Being authentic and knowing your business gains respect regardless of your background.
Roshini Rajkumar, Panelist, Speaker, Communication Coach, and Author, Roshini Performance Group (www.roshinimedia.com), is originally from Sri Lanka. Raised there by her grandmother; at two years old, she followed her parents to the US, to live in Edina, MN. Roshini describes her childhood as easy, but she still stood out as a person of color, living in Edina. In Sri Lanka, it is all about merit, not gender or color of skin and she carried those values into her broadcasting career. When faced with any communication situation, Roshini engages in having real conversations by being authentic and intentional with her communication. She suggests analyzing your audience and crafting your delivery to your audience, but not to change your authentic message. Her conclusion, have the real conversation; in your content be authentic, approach all situations with calm, and have celebrations – find a way to have fun every day.
Velma Korbel, Director of the Department of Civil Rights, City of Minneapolis (www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/civil-rights). Velma grew up in segregated East Texas. In fourth grade her school became integrated. Velma learned from her family early on, to take action by making herself a better person. Today her occupation is human and civil rights, but Velma has been active in that field since early childhood. Known for taking risks, being daring and having real conversations at a young age; Velma is still remembered for being the first black child to push racial boundaries in her home town. Early in her career; while working in predominantly white workplaces, Velma felt like an imposter. She acted like one person at home and a different person at work. Realizing the stress she encountered to act that way; Velma worked hard to change that mind set. A caring friend told Velma to get off her knees, get onto her feet and be seen. This empowering experience changed Velma’s mind set and behavior. From that point on, Velma had real conversations. In closing, Velma suggests being respectful and kind, but to say what needs to be said. She believes “everyone has something they need to say right now, but aren’t saying it”. Velma encouraged the audience “to be courageous, have the real conversation and say what needs to be said.”
The panelists’ authenticity, vulnerability, passion, open hearts, and personal stories inspired excellent feedback from attendees. They loved the diversity of the panel and important topics addressed. Amazed and inspired, they left wanting more time to continue the daring dialogue and start some real conversations of their own.
It was an inspiring event! Thank you to the amazing moderator and panel of speakers: Philomena Morrissey Satre, Sue Hammersmith, Brenda Fong, Roshini Rajkumar, and Velma Korbel. Tonia Hughes, you were outstanding. BIG THANKS to Philomena Morrissey Satre, Sheryl Cristobal, and Wells Fargo for sponsoring and hosting our event. Thanks to all the attendees who shared this evening with us.
Please join us on April 28th for an outstanding program, “Honor Your Health, Through Your Spirituality”
Visit the Honoring Women Worldwide
website at www.honoringwomenworldwide.org!