The Philly Female Forum is a 2020 A Virtual Women’s Empowerment Experience gathering the most powerful women In Philadelphia to share their personal experiences, professional advice and lead powerful conversational panels focused on Business, Fashion, Media and Sports.
This one-of-a-kind, virtual celebration is targeted towards young women who want insight into their respective fields of interest. This targeted forum provides direct learning and communication; giving attendees the ability to connect and explore their passions further in a fun and interactive way. Hosted for women, by women; The Philadelphia Female Forum encourages all women to go after their dreams. - phillyforum.com
Yesterday, my city; the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection was put display through the first ever Philadelphia female forum (a virtual Women’s Empowerment Experience Gathering the most Powerful Women in Philadelphia). The event was given by Philly native, Shana Booker, and her company PGD Global where she is the event director and management. This event that was full of so much woman power and encouragement. It was hosted by Philly’s own Aunyea Lachelle, the host of "Philly Live" on NBC 10, and included a multitude of Philly women bosses from all walks of life. There was something for everyone to dive into and collect the necessary gems on how to start a career or how to continue to grow in your career whether in media, business in general, the Philly fashion scene, or being a women in the sports world.
Although the event was virtual, the organizers and leaders made sure to make it an experience that would leave a lasting impression. Hosted in the PGD Global Clubhouse, the virtual experience featured different inactive rooms to keep the feeling of being at an in-person event. The rooms included a cocktail lounge where you could learn how to shake up some fancy new drinks, a social lounge where all the attendees could introduce themselves, an exhibitors lounge where you could view all the companies that were sponsoring the event and even support a few local Philly businesses, a chat & mingle room where you could meet and chat with the attendees on a private level and build up your networking skills, and there was also contest... who doesn’t like to win free stuff . So, as you can tell, this event was designed to bring together women of all walks of life so that we could uplift each other and hopefully pass on opportunity to those who may need it. I believe, we, as women should all root for the next woman's success, because there is enough room for everyone to shine; and as Aunyea Lachelle said so perfectly, as women who might have a position of power, “bring additional seats to the table and help to fill those seats.”
Media 2020 Powerful Voices of Philadelphia
So, the morning started off with "Media 2020 Powerful Voices of Philadelphia," and was hosted by NBC 10 Meteorologist Brittney Shipp. This session included some of the most famous women in media in Philadelphia, which included lead anchor at 6ABC, Sherrie Williams, the most famous voice of radio, host of WDAS and everyone’s favorite auntie Ms. Patty Jackson, Editor-in-Chief at Philly Style Magazine Kristin Detterline, and Rachel Ferguson the Chief Innovation & Global Diversity Officer for Visit Philadelphia.
The conversation started off with how the women adjusted once the world went on lock down due to the start of Covid-19. Patty Jackson started off by saying it was different for her, because during her 38-year career on the radio she never worked from home. Luckily, she has been and continues to work in-studio, but was essentially there alone.. something she was not accustomed to. Although seasoned in the industry, Auntie Patty had to learn how to be that soothing voice for the people during this difficult time. Sherri chimed in saying, that during the Covid crisis she continued to work at the studio, but 6ABC did have a plan in place for emergency so that if for any reason none of the anchors where allowed but to the studio for awhile she had an entire camera set up and live stream right from her home. Kristin also mentioned that she continued to work from her building as long as she was allowed, because to her that was how she was able to maintain the normal routine that she was use to for so many years. Brittney Shipp mentioned that she also worked from home for awhile, but used her kitchen as a studio and joked that her husband would walk by to grab something from the fridge and she had to let him know "I’m on air; this is not a joke!" We laughed.
The ladies went on to discuss how they broke into the industry, and gave tips on how to succeed in media. These well-respected women provided notable tips that anyone looking for opportunity in the media world should take with them and hold on tightly to. Some of the gems that stood out me were to "always have a good attitude," "build relationships," "have a mentor, and excellent work ethic." Sharrie Williams provided, possibly, the most important advice that should be at the top of anyone’s list when trying to achieve success in any industry. She said, “success doesn’t happen over night. It has to be done with intent and purpose; seeing yourself where you want to be and lining yourself up people who are doing things you want to do." This statement was so important, because you can never think that your dream job will be handed to you. You have to hustle and go for what you want. let people see that you're willing to go above-and-beyond to be at the top of your game. The conversation, then, transitioned to representation in the media and why having diversity is so important. The consensus between the women was that representation matters, because we have to have people that are able to tell their own stories. We have to have people in those spaces where they are able to correct someone on subjects they might be ignorant on; and most importantly, it's just simply time to see and hear different voices and view points on subjects that matter to us. Sherri pointed out that in the 50 years that 6ABC has been around there has never been an black anchor team until her and co-anchor Rick Williams became a team; which is shocking, but at the same time not. I can attest firsthand, since watching 6ABC from youth and seeing so many black anchors now versus then. It's evident that we are breaking ceilings and demanding seats at the table.
· Have a good attitude
· Prepare yourself for the right opportunity
· Have intent and purpose
· Keep contacts/network
· Have great mentors
· Continue to learn
· Representation Matters
· Make social media your best friend
· Research the career you are interested in
About the Business: Women Empowered in The Workplace
Ladies, if you're looking to work in the corporate world, then this next panel was exactly were you needed to be to absorb all the knowledge on what it takes to be a Girl Boss in the corporate setting. The heavy hitters of Philadelphia businesses had a conversation with lead news anchor of 6ABC, Sharrie Williams, on the different facets of business. The group included Tiffany Newmuis, the senior manager at comcast campus experience; Jennifer Rodriguez, President and CEO of Greater Philadelphia of Commerce; Christine Krzyzanowski, the co-founder and CMO of Pllay Labs Inc.; and Valarie Cofield, the President and CEO of the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council. As in the first panel, the women talked about routine and what has changed or hasn’t changed since Covid 19 outbreak; many of the women talked about structure and how important it is to keep a calendar, stay on strict scheduled to achieve work goals or to even schedule time for themselves and family. As many of you with businesses know, during this time of uncertainty, you might not know what your next move might be. The panel touched on this topic, and explained how critical it was to pivot and evolve during these trying times. The women acknowledge how during this pivot it has been important to make sure black-and-brown business are supported, and stress to make it intentional to have our money recirculate within our own communities. The ladies wrapped up the panel giving advice on breaking the glass in business, and provided suggestions; from volunteering, taking a seat at the table, taking your own path because everyone’s path won’t be the same for you, and just know who you are from within. As Valarie Cofiels said, “Your voice is more than the position you hold.”
· Plan for curve balls
· Scheduling is important
· Learn to pivot
· Hold leadership accountable
Fashion Forward: Walk into Your Own Style
Now, when it comes to fashion, I think every woman might have an aspect of fashion that they love from the love of shoes, handbags, or just a few staple pieces in your wardrobe. We all have our go-to items. I like to think that Philly has our own sense of fashion, and that you can tell that someone is from Philly just from the way they dress; if you see a guy "Polo downed" it's safe to say he’s from Philly, and if you see a girl wearing Milano or Lovello; most likely, you’ll say to yourself "yup, she’s from Philly." Like Alinkia said, when it comes to fashion, Philly stays in our own lane. We do not follow any other trends, and we can really “Blow.”
This panel the baddest, fashionista Bosses in Philadelphia. Hosted by Bridgett Battles, CEO and Style Strategist of The BB Experience; Bridgett was joined by Gabriela Guaracao founder and Creative Director of AMERICAE, Farai Simoyi Program director at Jefferson and fashion design program. The dialog started with Bridgett asking how the ladies prepare for the day when it pertains to finding their looks of the day. Gabriela stated something extremely important when she said, "in order to be creative, I have to be mentally ready." Being mentally ready should always be at the top of anyone’s agenda for the day; because if you are not there mentally, how are you going to lead a day full of purpose and productivity. Next, Bridgett went straight on to one of the most important topics during these times of Zoom meetings, what to wear! Although you are at home, you should still want to look professional, and not look like you just rolled out of bed.
Farai was able to give a us a few tips on how to keep it cute during those morning meetings. The first tip, to invest in some cute blouses, because the only thing people are seeing is your top half. The second... accessorize cute earrings to also complete a look, and the third tip, try wearing a cute lippie if you don’t want put on a full face of makeup.
Next, the fashionistas explained how each got their start in the fashion industry. Farai was surrounded by fashion, because of her family and decided to attend a university to learn more. Gabriela's start wasn't so traditional, but has always been creative. She decided to use her background, and love for creativity to start her own business. Alnika started her business as something fun to do, and out of a desire to see her name printed on a t-shirt. Lastly, Nancy started in the fashion world at the age of 61 when she decided to finally follow her passion for sewing and enrolled in Drexel University in Philadelphia. After studying and gaining a few years of experience, she made it on to the hit show Project Runway. Now, if that doesn’t scream follow your dreams at any age, I don’t know what does.
The designers were asked what was the moment that they knew they made it. Farai had to flex on us a little, mentioning being hired as a designer for Queen Bey's first clothing line, "House of Deréon." From there, she went on to work for Roc-a-Wear, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Timberlake clothing lines. Establishing herself in the fashion world was much appreciated, but after a while she decided that she needed to invest in herself and start her own brand “The Narrative.”
Covid 19 has affected the world in so many ways. Many people are not shopping as often, but still want to look good and fresh when the go out. A few tips from this panel, included: rotate the clothes in your closet to mix and match pieces to create new looks and stay trendy, try to catch sales, and invest in statement pieces... it's all about quality, not quantity. Alnika spoke nothing but the truth when asked what advice she would give a young woman trying to enter the business. She said, “don’t run away from your uniqueness. Run towards it.” she also stressed investing in self; and if you don’t know something, research it. To end this amazing panel, Nancy left us with a quote that will have you saying "hmm…" She stated, “make fear your friend;” meaning don’t let fear stop you, and just go for it.
· Bold lips
· Go after your passion
· Follow your dream at any age
· Invest in yourself
· Learn to pivot your business
· Support black businesses
The Sports Game: Women in The Game
So, I’m just going to assume that everyone (no matter where you are from) knows how passionate Philly is when it comes to sport. That statement does not only include men either, because the women in Philly go just as hard as we all bleed green. Stepping into the arena are some of the big shot Bosses of the Philadelphia sports world. Philly's "Women in the Game" included the host of the panel, Philadelphia radio host and multi-media personality Mina SayWhat; Tiffany Howard, the Assistant Athletic Director and Business Operations at Temple University; Shana Booker, Event Director and Management for PGD Global; Lara Price, COO of the Philadelphia 76ERS; and Dei Lynam, Sports Journalist. The conversation began with how Covid-19 has changed the way the women work and handle business on day to day basis.
Most of ladies were able to transition easily and put plans in place so that all staff were able to work from home. They also touched on the future of sports and the opening of arenas. Lara said, "everyone misses the fans, but going forward our new normal for a while will be getting use to temperature checks upon entering the buildings, having prepackaged foods and even limiting the amount people that are allowed in a stadium or arena." Tiffany mentioned how different it is for the fans and the players, and how crucial it is for the marketing department to figure out ways create that fan-and-player experience.
Dei elaborated on how media jobs have been cut due to the pandemic, and said I feel that many of the positions might be obsolete, because we have found new ways to accomplish those jobs." She also stressed that some jobs, such as interviewing players don’t feel the same when conducting them from video calls. She hopes that those types of interactions will eventually come back.
Being in a male-dominated field can sometimes come with challenges, but these women did not let that stop them from dominating in their field. Shana mentioned that she makes sure she is always heard, and since we are women, people expect us to be emotional and angry. She suggests we have learn how to express ourselves without being looked at through those lenses. Although Tiffany is in a male-dominated field, she said that she "never had to deal with disrespect," because people know that she understands her job, and that she’s there to provide whatever resources needed. You can't argue with facts... she’s a young, Black woman that is killing it and knows her stuff!
Being as though sports is mostly looked at a man's career, the ladies were asked what are some ways that men can help women move along equally in this field. Shana said simply, "just be a voice for us when we are not in the room." Most importantly, as Lara said, "we, as women should be supporting each other, especially when we are in positions of power."
· Make sure you are heard
· Have confidence
· If you have a seat at the table, you better speak up
· Be professional and prepared
The First, Ever, Philly Female Forum was my first, virtual event experience. Personally and honestly, I can attest... anyone who plans on hosting a virtual event should look to PDG Global for guidance, because this event was handled with thoughtfulness. From the selection of the panel, the topics, to choosing host and moderators that are familiar, well-known faces and voices of Philly, the event was brilliant! It showed that the organizers understood who their audience would be. I'm hoping that this forum will be an event to return to the Philadelphia area annually. Attendees benefit from networking. While mingling to get your foot in the door, attendees are able to link with women in positions of power to open of the doors of opportunity. For those who are hustling, they're making sure we are seen and heard until we get that one "yes" and the trajectory of our careers is changed.
Meet the Event Director & Management of PGD Global Shana Booker
“Our goal is to create a meaningful experience that can connect women to their dreams by hearing thoughtful perspectives from women that have advanced in their careers. The Philly Female Forum is an empowerment platform for young women who want to understand their direction and are looking for further inspiration. With young female students and entrepreneurs working from home this experience is especially for them."
Q. Why was is important for you start such a powerful event in Philadelphia that would showcase all women; allowing other young women in Philly to soak up so much knowledge from amazing women right in their own city?
A. As a young woman starting out in the sports-and-entertainment industry in the early 2000s, I didn’t have the opportunity to see many women that looked like me, in the places I’d aspire to be. Along my journey, I’ve been blessed to encounter women who gave me insight on what I needed to do to succeed. The Philly Female Forum is my way of giving younger women access to advice from a diverse group of leaders. Along with my company PGD Global, women’s empowerment is always on the forefront of our mission as a business.
Q. I was born and raised in West Philadelphia, and I have never been introduced to a platform like this which encourages women to pursue careers in all different work spaces that I feel aren’t normally sought out as the top career. Why do you think it has taken to so long for women to see that we can be a part of so many different work spaces whether in media, corporate, or fashion?
A. For so long the images we’ve seen and the careers that we’ve sought were filled by images of men. As with anything in life, change can be slow at times, but as women, our will and determination have driven us to make sure we have a seat at the table and that our voices are heard.
Aunyea Lachelle host of Philly Live on NBC 10
Q. When it comes to media, it brings me so much joy to see women of color on all the different news stations. Growing up, seeing women who looked like me on the morning news or evening news was rare. How does it feel to be one of the women breaking barriers; and showing up for not only black women, but showing up for your city?
A. It feels surreal and incredibly humbling to be considered someone who broke barriers to get here. I did not have the “typical” career trajectory when getting my start in the news industry. I had to work hard, think outside of the box, and break the mold just to be seen... not even accepted, just SEEN. I’d do it all over again, knowing the number of women and young girls that my path has inspired. I get to host "Philly Live" on NBC10, a first-of-its-kind show that puts my hometown, Philadelphia on the map like never before.
To be a black woman doing that, is even more rewarding. I’ve received so many touching messages from viewers who say they look at me as an inspiration; that because they see me on TV, they now know THEY can do it too. I love that, and quite frankly, I believe THAT is my purpose in life, to aspire to inspire.
Q. Being the first host of the first, ever, Philly Female Forum; how important is this opportunity for you, and what do you hope this forum will accomplish for women and for the city?
A. This was a major opportunity that I was not expecting to get. When I first found out about the Philly Female Forum, I knew immediately that I wanted to produce a preview segment for the event to air in our show ahead of their registration deadline. I also knew I wanted to participate on one of the panels. So, when I put the ask out there to be a participant in any way possible, I never expected they’d come back offering for me to host the event! The panelists, moderators, and event organizers are the most powerful, influential women in our city. They shared stories of perseverance, grit, hustle, kindness. All the attributes that make up our great city of Philadelphia. I was honored to even be considered amongst the likes of them. I hope that attendees walked away from the forum feeling inspired, empowered, and motivated to achieve the thing they once feared the most.
Connect With the Female Panel (click on each picture to connect )
Alnika E. Lovello
Valarie J. Cofield
Tiffany M. Newmuis
Nancy Volpe Beringer