POLITICO and Google have partnered to produce a series of panel discussion events to empower female professionals and confront current female social issues. Last Friday, October 11, 2013 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, a variety of professional women were invited to attend and participate in a conversation on the topic of female entrepreneurs and highlight their role in the growth of both the American and worldwide economies.
The first panel was moderated by POLITICO's Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen and featured discussion with Dina Habib Powell, President of the Goldman Sach's Foundation, Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder & CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, Karen Mills, Fmr. Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration and Julie T. Katzman, Executive Vice President, Inter-American Development Bank. The group discussed resources for female small business owners such as the "Give me 5" campaign to award more women-owned small businesses with government contracts. Noguera specifically commented on the power behind a good business pitch and explained that women sometimes shy from opportunities for fear of failure. Noguera explained that pitching "isn't a zero sum game" as one pitch can lead to critical feedback, new connections and new opportunities not always immediately visible.
Each table of attendees was curated to provide a mix of ages and professional backgrounds and included a a table Ambassador - such as one table led by Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino - who facilitated table discussions between panels. The idea was to absorb the information discussed to spur conversation with the new table of contacts. It was an effective way to network and most individuals left exchanging business cards and discussing potential future collaborations.
The second panel was moderated by Judy Woodruff, Co-Anchor and Managing Editor of the PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff and featured Tory Burch, CEO and designer of Tory Burch and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. Burch's connection to Women Rule comes in her formation of the Tory Burch Foundation set in place to support and encourage female entrepreneurs - a creation she insisted be a part of her namesake brand as she pitched mostly male investors to fund her company almost a decade ago.
Burch confronted the question of women being accused of having to choose between their family and their career by saying she approaches her company with the attitude that women can be great moms AND be great leaders. This commentary met to applause from the audience many of whom either currently juggle the two or expect to in the future. Burch, elegantly dressed in navy slacks, matching sweater and collared shirt with a spike and jeweled collar, went on to say that one need only to look at her company to see examples of the power mom and career woman in play.
POLITICO and Google will be continuing to facilitate high profile discussions through their Women Rule series bringing together top minds on the issues of female entrepreneurs, the importance of mentorship and women shaping public policy while encouraging attendees to connect and collaborate. Let's hope they all come with the complimentary Tory Burch tote bag and Georgetown cupcakes that attendees received last week.