Dress for Success Worldwide brought the 10th anniversary of its annual client leadership conference to the nation’s capital this summer. Success Summit took place this past weekend, at the Hotel Monaco Washington, D.C., and the Hotel Monaco Alexandria. With the theme “I Am…,” this year’s Success Summit represented the power that each woman has within herself to fulfill her own professional and personal destiny.
Success Summit is a conference for members of the Professional Women’s Group (PWG), an international networking association for Dress for Success clients that provides support, practical information and inspiration, all tailored to the unique needs of those women that have recently entered the workforce, as well as the Professional Women’s Group program leaders.
Inspired by her own experience attending a multitude of high-level leadership forums, Dress for Success Worldwide CEO, Joi Gordon, decided to create a forum for the women of Dress for Success—women who are not typically invited to events of this caliber. She quickly realized that the CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and politicians who are often invited to these conferences were not the only ones who had something gain from these powerful seminars—and so Success Summit was established. Over the past 10 years, Success Summit has grown into an innovative international forum for women who are on their way to becoming leaders and catalysts for change in their community.
Success Summit weekend kicked-off at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C., were the women began their evening with a masquerade networking mocktail hour, but not before stopping by the steps of the National Portrait Gallery across the street for a quick photo opp. Guests were then escorted to dinner through a long corridor, where the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant staff showcased inspirational signs that they created and showered the women with words of encouragements as they traveled into the ballroom.
They were then greeted by Ed Virtue, the General Manager of the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C., who had a special surprise for the Success Summit attendees: a dancer pranced through the crowd, showing off her go-go moves, a dance style unique to Washington, D.C. Crowd participation was encouraged and many of the women jumped at the chance to learn go-go.
Letitia Long, Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the first female head of a major U.S. intelligence agency, and Joi Gordon partook in a candid panel discussion about what it takes to be a phenomenal woman. They reflected and reminisced over the previous chapters of their lives and delved into the journey that lies ahead of them. The evening ended with a moonlight tour of the D.C. monuments.
Saturday evening was the pinnacle of the weekend, with Sarah Jakes, author of “Colliding with Destiny” and “Lost and Found” and daughter of famed bishop T.D. Jakes, delivered the keynote speech during dinner, sharing with the Dress for Success women the intimate details of her challenges and triumphs to become the successful woman that she is today. Joey Adler, the CEO of Diesel Canada and newest member to Dress for Success’ Board of Directors, didn’t leave a dry eye in the house when explaining her passion about philanthropy and the importance of an organization like Dress for Success.
In addition to above guest appearances, the 10th anniversary of Success Summit was a weekend packed with useful workshops for the women to gain real-life knowledge that they can apply to their own lives and communities. Interactive sessions provided opportunities for delegates to create action plans to pursue their professional passions and increase their economic awareness through curriculum that will help analyze their current employment choices; assess whether they are living their passion through their chosen field; identify what steps they can take while remaining employed to position themselves to work within their passion in the near future; and create an action plan to take the appropriate steps to achieve their employment goals and advance in their careers.
Success Summit offered two different tracts of programming for the women: the PWG program leaders focused on current recruitment and retention program trends, providing them with best practices to implement cutting edge employment retention and career advancement programming within their local Dress for Success affiliates. For the client delegates chosen exclusively from their affiliates, this weekend culminated with the assignment of a Community Action Project (CAP). These women were tasked with creating an initiative and utilizing resources within their community to bring awareness to a local issue. The CAP highlights the fact true success is about more than just being able to pay rent, it’s also about being able to pay it forward. In total, there were more than 70 Dress for Success affiliates represented from around the world.