It takes something to attend a conference. Arrangements must be made, decisions regarding travel are determined, cost figured in, and, invariably special events at home are missed. One must be committed to the perceived value of the conference in advance.
On October 21, 2017, I attended the state conference for NC NOW: women seeking positive change regarding women’s issues. Many of the women had traveled several hours, some had physical challenges and walked with canes, while young women had arranged for childcare to be able to attend. There were a variety of professions represented, including teachers, lawyers, life coaches, a doctor, a medical clinic manager, and an architect to name a few. Sessions and workshops were short, with carefully prepared presenters and lively engagement from the participants.
I returned with insights, new information, and impressions from the other women…increased awareness regarding women’s leadership. I felt comfortable in a safe space, the inspired energy from being around a strong team from the home chapter, and inspiration from the younger members who supported each other on their journeys as supportive women.
We provided an intimate audience for Elaine Marshall, our Secretary of State, to share the difficulties of her office during the current political climate in the General Assembly. We listened with compassion as she shared her loss of two husbands to cancer, and the challenge of grieving while in office. We celebrated her longtime commitment to women’s issues. We shook our heads in dismay at her need for funds to defend herself legally when ambushed with lies from legislators who wanted to impeach her, simultaneously impressed with and proud of her strong response to the attacks.
As an actress performed a piece from the Vagina monologues, we were reminded of our basic physical similarity as women, and our individual struggles to own our sexuality.
Now, days later, as I look back, I see the powerful impact from uniting with women who care, commit, and take action. I’m reminded of one of my own core beliefs: Leaders need to be with other leaders. I returned as a different person from the woman who attended. My perspective has widened, my compassion has deepened, and my vision for what’s possible has been enlivened. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
– Ana Tampanna
Ana Tampanna is the program committee chair in the Triad NOW chapter. She presented a workshop ‘Planning Programs that Pop’ at the NC NOW State Conference.