The ASCEND 2019:Charlotte Conference inspires during Women’s History Month

**this article originally appears in The Carolinian print edition

On the heels of Black History Month, the nation and the world turns to celebrate the contribution of women. The US celebrates and seeks to amplify women’s voices to honor the past, inform the present, and inspire the future through Women’s History Month. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Balance for Better” highlighted the need for equality and the eradication of bias. Even as highly qualified women enter traditionally male held occupations, their earnings fall short as the occupation undergoes a ‘feminization.’ It is this devaluation of what is considered female skills that contribute to the continued occupational segregation of men and women. Despite this disparaging trend, there are some who seek to ameliorate this division and empower leaders, leaving identification labels aside. 

The ASCEND 2019:Charlotte conference is designed for leaders seeking to shatter glass ceilings, and create partnerships, mentorship, and sponsorship relationships across gender lines. The conference offers strategies for attendees to elevate their executive presence and enhance professional communication skills. There is a session that specifically addresses why men should mentor women and how women can transition their male mentors into true career sponsors. The carefully curated lineup of experts is diverse, representing varying races, cultures, and professional backgrounds. The Carolinian asked the presenters to share a statement that summarizes what inspires or motivates them as they empowers others.

CEO, Attorney, Author and NAACP Image Award Nominee Karima Mariama-Arthur trains executives in complex communication and executive presence. When asked to share her favorite quote she responded with a saying from her mother, “Tooth and tongue are in the same mouth and even they don’t get along.” Karima revealed the significance of the quote as a metaphor for the inevitability of conflict. “It reminds me that the most effective leaders learn to nimbly navigate controversies rather than attempt to avoid them,” Mariama-Arthur explained. 

Charryse Johnson is a speaker, life coach, and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who inspires people to “live well” in mind, body, and spirit. She has provided counsel, leadership, and training to individuals, families and teams throughout the U.S., France, Ecuador, and China. Charryse shared a quote that, “speaks to the delicate balance of affirming your power and being intentional with your consistent efforts both personally and professionally.” She quoted entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.” 

Lindsay Beyak and Annie Wickham are co-founders of the Shift-Ed Network, dedicated to helping others rewrite the trajectory of their lives through successful transitioning. Their inspiration comes from a place of responsibility and control. They shared, “everyone is eventually a leader to someone, and some of us will lead many. It is our responsibility and obligation to take this role seriously. If we do not, we will lead away from the intended goal. Once you have a clear path, change direction as needed, but choose it on purpose and head there. Beyak and Wickham are inspired by this quote from Lao Tzu, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you’re going.” 

Staying on course and being true to oneself was also present in conversation with CEO and Trainer of Champions Latricia Clarissa Davis. The CEO of EMERGE, a national events management company, Latricia shared a quote from former first lady Michelle Obama. “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.” When asked, Davis explained, “this quote reminds me that powerfully standing on my story facilitates breakthroughs of other people.”

Not surprisingly these ASCEND experts each spoke of how leaders influence others through example and empathy. Entrepreneur and celebrity private baker Chef Barbara “Mama” Giglio spoke of the significance of purpose being the impetus for modeling behaviors. “You recognize your purpose, lead by example, and in this manner influence and develop others as leaders for the good of the team or the company.” Chef Mama Giglio shared a John Maxwell quote, “A dream worth pursuing is a picture and a blueprint of a peso’s purpose and potential.” 

Mentorship and networking expert John Sporing talked about seeking out purpose ashamedly and unafraid. “You have to keep growing, and that requires the ability to confront your fears and do something scary. Of course, scary is not stupid. You have to take risks and try new things. You may fail, but in trying new every day will pay off more often than not. John’s inspiration comes from another former first lady – Eleanor Roosevelt – who said, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.”

Third generation publisher, entrepreneur, and graphic designer Adria Jervay believes everyone should have access to success, whether they are on your team or someone else’s. She agrees with the other ASCEND presenters, the role of leaders is to develop the leadership potential of others. She is inspired by entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson who wrote, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” 

As publisher of The Carolinian, Jervay is proud to sponsor the ASCEND Conference alongside the Microsoft Corporation, the Alchemist Agency, WordSmithRapport, and A Life Well Drunk in doing just that – training leaders and executives to succeed without regard to labels but in response to competence.