When I graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and Tory Burch Foundation (TBF) early stage woman-owned program in February this year, TBF surprised our cohort with a special invitation to the first White House summit about the United State of Women. It was truly an honor to represent Advantedge Education, Inc. during the summit, which saw more than 5,000 attendees at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC on June 14. The energy in the space (which is about the size of 4 football fields) was contagious, inspirational, and emotional.
I was one of 30 women screened and approved by The White House to help staff the 10,000 Small Businesses booth in the exhibit hall and I had the opportunity to speak with some of the most interesting and inspiring women I’ve ever met. It was one of those moments where you take it all in, and relish in what was likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Grieving the worst mass shooting in United States history which happened only days before in Orlando, the opening session was sobering. We heard from Vice President Joe Biden, and many others including, Meghan Yap, It’s On Us Champion of Change and Mariska Hargitay, Actress and Founder/President of Joyful Heart Foundation, who discussed the ongoing violence against women and changing rape culture on campuses. One in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college.
If you have some time, check out Biden’s presentation here: Vice President Biden Speaks at the White House Summit on the United State of Women
When we talk about these issues we give voice to the millions who stay silent. The summit covered other key gender equality issues, like equal pay, but its purpose was not to solely discuss what women continue to struggle with today in the United States…for there is a lot to celebrate.
The United State of Women Summit was a groundbreaking event intended to rally all of us together (mostly women, but men too) to celebrate what we’ve achieved, and how we can take action moving forward.
“As long as we stand together, the sky is just the beginning.” ~Ayo Megbope, CEO, No Left Overs Nigeria, 10,000 Women graduate
Being a woman and an entrepreneur, the afternoon’s sessions about economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, and innovation were the most energizing. Women rock! It was exciting to see so many strong business women share their journey to success. The most inspiring speaker wasn’t President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, or Oprah Winfrey – though all were incredibly impressive and I highly suggest you watch the videos from the links provided below – but Mikaila Ulmer, Founder and CEO of Me & The Bees Lemonade. When Mikaila introduced the President she was dynamic, thought-provoking, inspiring, and a role model for all women, girls and anyone who has a dream. And she’s only 11. That’s right, eleven.
Mikaila is the epitome of what it means to be an entrepreneur. She took two bee stings and turned her experience into a thriving lemonade beverage company whose products are sold across the country. She’s right. Kids see possibilities where others see problems and she offers simple advice for anyone looking to start a business. But really it’s just sound advice for your life.
Bee-lieve in the impossible.
And dream like a kid.
So grab a cup of coffee or tea, put your feet up, and take in the inspiration from these videos:
Feeling encouraged? I’m not surprised. I left the summit full of optimism, grateful for the time of reflection spent on the train ride home, and motivated to find new ways Advantedge Education can contribute to the continuing education of our community.