Contributed by Ebonye Stewart, Memphis Women’s Summit (MWS) Chair
When I heard about the JLM’s plans to launch a conference that would bring women together from across the Mid-South for a day-long experience, I was in! I was excited about the opportunity to be a part of what will be a new footprint for the Junior League of Memphis, and intrigued by JLM Leadership’s vision for the conference. What a dynamic and impactful event. As the chair, I thought, ‘I’ve attended conferences – this will be easy.’
Wow was I wrong!
Chairing an event – not to mention a new event – with no framework was definitely a challenging task. Our committee was formed, and so, last year, we began on a mission to create the wheel and develop a platform that could be built upon year after year. We think that we’ve done just that. We have a line-up of fabulous vendors, leaders from across the city hosting breakout sessions, a panel of female executives, and a key-note from award winning author and journalist Joan Lunden. Our committee was responsible for major decisions, such as the key note speaker, and very intricate details that would aid in our participants’ enjoyment.
So here we are, the event will be here before we know it, and as the time grows increasingly closer, I have found a moment to reflect on how this placement has impacted me. Signing up to take on such a huge endeavor can definitely prove both challenging and rewarding. Yes, it will consume a lot of your time between other competing priorities-professional and personal. This is where I really truly learned the value of time, balance and of having a strong team. I am thankful to be a part of such a solid group of women who definitely have each other’s backs and will do what it takes to get the job done! There is also an unwavering amount of flexibility that is required-you can plan, plan well, and plan ahead but something will occur to cause you to shift gears and adapt quickly. You must definitely learn to manage expectations, workloads, personalities and learn to find a balance in the differences in opinion and abundance of ideas.
Through all of the challenges and navigating through the unknown, it is so rewarding to see what was once someone’s vision coupled with the committee’s feedback and insight from others develop into an event that will bring women together with the mission of offering a platform to encourage learning from one another, inspiring one another, creating connections and impacting the community. I am proud to be a part of our first inaugural event!