She entered the stage to a rousing one-minute standing ovation, dressed in black slacks, black leather jacket, and a hip new hairdo. Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the quintessential politician, women’s right activist, wife, mother, grandmother and let’s not forget, First Lady, NY Senator, former Secretary of State and most recently presidential candidate. Cell phones were popping up everywhere snapping photos of one of America’s most accomplished and famous women.
“It’s great to be back in San Francisco. There is no place I’d rather be than here with you, other than the White House” Ms. Clinton chuckled. “I’m thrilled to be out of the woods” she joked, clearly her sense of humor still intact.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was the keynote speaker at this year’s 28th annual Professional Business Women’s Conference – PBWC – held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco last week. The sellout crowd was estimated at over 7,000 with a few men sprinkled throughout. Estrogen and fem power were pumping through the rooms like oxygen and a contagious energy percolated throughout the daylong event. Everyone was feeling inspired, including me.
This year’s PBWC had an unprecedented amount of star power in the room, egos checked at the door. This was about girls. This was about women. This was about mentoring and carrying the message of hope to the next generation of women professionals. Words like engage, advance, equal pay, education, empowerment, and diversity were the indelible themes with #inclusionnow as the over-arching axiom of the day.
The fiery lineup of badass women professionals included Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, articulate, authentic and a strong voice in promoting equitable jobs and housing in Oakland; actress Taraji P Hensen (recently in the movie Hidden Figures), was exuberant, vulnerable, yet strong and determined; U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (who founded the PBWC) spoke to the audience via video satellite feed from Washington, DC; ABC7 colleague and News Anchor Cheryl Jennings served as one of the key moderators despite having had recent back surgery.
Actress, advocate and entrepreneur, Rosario Dawson brought the audience to its feet with her inspiring message on “working hard to achieve one’s goals” despite the many roadblocks and obstacles she endured. And one of my personal favorites was speaker Nandita Bakhshi, CEO of Bank of the West. Born in India, Ms. Bakhshi worked her way to the top in the financial industry where few women attain CEO status. Her grit, perseverance, and courage were certainly praiseworthy.
PBWC Board President and Chair, Alexandra Roddy and team did an amazing job of putting on one of the best PBWC events I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been to quite a few). Forward thinking companies like LinkedIn, Genentech, HP, Gap, Bank of the West, Salesforce, ABC7, Microsoft, Rodney Strong Vineyards, and KCBS Radio were just some of the major sponsors of this year’s 2017 PBWC.
As the day came to an end, I ran to catch my BART train. I sat in my seat feeling energized and ruminated over the many accomplished women I met in a single day. As Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “No good idea has ever become a reality overnight.”
Let’s keep pressing forward ladies.