NYC Women’s Empowerment Summit Electrifies The Big Apple

L-R Abby Ellin, Abiola Abrams, Valerie Smaldone, Alycia Kaback, Judith King, Pat Addiss, Laura Fredricks

The release of Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” this April seemed to be a felicitous occurrence that conceivably set the tone for the summer’s activities; imagine my surprise when I was invited to cover The 1st Annual NYC Women’s Empowerment Summit, set to take place in the summer, a month later.  The brainchild of Alycia Kaback, a powerhouse and owner of six businesses including Kaback Models and VIP Talent Connect, the NYC Women’s Empowerment Summit is a comprehensive one-day event aimed at creating networking opportunities and bringing awareness to causes that are imperative to women.  Intimate, exclusive and extremely affordable, the summit was capped at 100 attendees and the proceeds from the $45.00 ticket price went to Make a Wish Foundation.

Alycia Kaback and Vivica A. Fox

 Summer weekends in Manhattan generally consist of trips to the Hampton’s for NYC’s social elite and Coney Island and Rockaway Beach for everyone else.  The humidity hit-parade smacks us with sweltering temperatures and tourists are allowed to take possession of the city.   Saturday is generally the day of the week to kick back, but on July 16 NYC was all about business.  As I walked to Bennett Media Studios, located on 723 Washington Street, I had no idea what to expect.  At the most I thought I would hand out a few business cards and gain more awareness for F.A.M.E NYC.  I had no suspicion of the reward that was waiting beyond the doors of this building.  The summit surpassed my greatest expectations.  Along with the chance to meet women from various professions, The NYC Women’s Empowerment Summit provided a rock star panel of guest speakers from a variety of business fields.  Each of these women injected the attendees with doses of hope, determination and lessons the audience could take with them as they conquer or change their career path.

 What first impressed me as I looked for an open chair was the wide range of

Fran Kirmser

women that were present.  Women representing diverse age groups and ethnicities (and even a few good men) eagerly found open seats in anticipation for the presentations from the speakers.  The summit began with a few words from Alycia Kaback then radio personality Valerie Smaldone took the mic.  A five-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) spokeswoman, Valerie recommended women to find the people around them that they wanted to connect to, be a maverick and back up their natural talents by furthering their education in their desired career.  Chelsea Krost, media personality and author of the book NINETEEN: A Reflection of My Teenage Experience in an Extraordinary Life. What I Have Learned and What I Have to Share, was the youngest speaker on the panel.  At 20, she is well on her way to becoming the voice for the Millennial Generation by bringing a new demographic to AM radio, covering President Obama’s Inauguration and documenting the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri.  Her heartfelt message stressed persistence, turning dreams into reality and that age should never be a factor in pursuing one’s dreams.  Chelsea’s exuberance served as an inspiration to the panel as most of the women following her chose to speak from the hearts as well.  Pat Addiss ran a promotions company for 30 years before switching careers to become a theatre producer.  She produced The Fantasticks, the longest running musical of all time.  By joking that the panel shifted from the youngest member its oldest, Pat reminded the attendees that it is alright to have more than one dream.  “If you find out your dream is not your calling…change,” she said.   

The subject of change flowed into the message of Fran Kirmser, the next speaker.  Fran’s theatre production company produced Lombardi, the longest running play of the 2010 season.  Starting out as a professional dancer, she like Pat also transitioned into another career, but her message was not about career changes.  Instead, she focused on attitude changes.  Women are conditioned to think of everyone else, especially when taking on the roles of wife and mother.  Fran advised women that it is okay to put self first and to make time for one’s passion, even if that passion is not business related.  The thread of self was woven into the uproarious commentary of Judith King.  She is the lead partner and co-principal of The Morris + King Company (MKC).  Through laughter Judith drove home the points of staying true to one’s self, being fearless without being reckless and losing the fear of failure.  Subsequently, she also may have discovered a new career path as a stand up comic. 

Innovation was the theme for speakers Sibrena Stowe, Gala Darlin and Vikki

Valerie Smaldone, Sibrena Stowe, Judith King, Gala Darlin

Ziegler.  Sibrena, having virtually no experience, became one of the leading media buyers in the urban music market working with Jive Records, Kedar Entertainment and Universal Music.  She is the founder of La Chic Media and a proud mother.  In fact, one of her career goals was to do something her daughter could be proud of.  Along with having pride in one’s work, Sibrena emphasized the importance of associating with positive people, visualizing goals and learning new things.  Gala Darlin’s unique approach to blogging, fashion and the power of practicing radical self-love has given her a cult following.   Creating a strong, identifiable brand from scratch, she did so by having faith and the desire to write and work for herself.  Gala’s distinct methodology for life also resonated in her speech suggesting that audience members write down every compliment, start a bible filled with feel good paraphernalia and occasionally take yourself on a date.  A child of divorce, Vikki Ziegler transformed a painful chapter in her life into a lucrative career.  Although she has carved a niche as a successful divorce lawyer and television personality, Vikki also offers her wisdom to help couples overcome their issues and stay in their marriages.  She shared with the audience one of her favorite quotes, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.”  She also stressed the significance of knowing your worth and learning from personal experiences.

Prevailing over one’s shadow presented itself as the motif for Abiola Abrams,

Abiola Abrams

Lubna Dajani and Wendi Caplan-Carroll.  Abiola is the go to girl when it comes to sex, love, dating, lifestyle and pop culture news.  She is BBC Radio’s Entertainment Correspondent, blogger and editor of Abiola’s Passionista Playbook and host/producer of her own award-winning web series.  Abiola’s message was, “How we do anything is how we do everything.”   Her spirited speech specified the need to let go of old excuses, take risks and trust.  Lubna Dajani was named as one of Mobile Marketer’s “Mobile Women to Watch” in 2010.  A pioneer in digital and mobile media and technology, Lubna has held positions as a consultant, senior manager and new business developer for multi-national companies and non-profits.  Accentuating the concept that everyone is a brand, Lubna suggested that at times we are our worst enemies and sometimes we must step out of our own way, find the good residing inside you and follow it.  Wendi Caplan-Carroll is a social media and digital marketing guru.  After working with companies such as CBS Radio, Infinity Broadcasting and Emmis Broadcasting, she is currently the Development Director for Constant Contact.  She implored everyone to be what you meant to be, never abandon your dreams and stay focus on what your business and customer should be like.  Most importantly, she left the audience with the theory of the red thread stating that we are all connected.

Finance, energy and freelance were the topics that ended the summit as

Laura Fredricks

speakers Laura Fredricks, Judith Glaser and Abby Ellin took the stage.   Any artistic or business endeavor requires money; Laura Fredricks has raised millions for several organizations.  A bestselling author, she runs a boutique consulting business that trains and coaches non-profits and companies on how to ask for funds and get it.  Her tips for raising funds are: tell your story, create a business plan and organizational structure, quantify and follow up.  Judith Glaser thinks of herself as Organizational Anthropologist.  An author of three bestselling business books on leadership; she is the Founder of Benchmark Communications, Inc., the Co-founder, Chairman of Creating WE Institute and founding partner of Creating WE, LLC.  The story of who Judith is today started with a homeless man.  She left the audience with the knowledge that energy connects and binds us when it is positive.  Abby Ellin is a freelance subject-matter expert crafting a career as a writer without ever accepting a position in a company or publication.  Her pieces have been published in The New York Times, Self, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Sassy, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and Glamour.  In 2005, Abby published Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs in on Living Large, Losing Weight and How Parents Can (and Can’t) Help.  Her witty and keen observations about her 20-year career educated the audience on how not to worry about things that are beyond the scope of their control, to stand still if you are unsure where to go and to find out what works for you.  “There’s no recipe for success,” she advised.  Keynote speaker Vivica A. Fox eloquently summarized the points offered by the guest speakers.

Inspirational, exhilarating, engaging and extremely time worthy, The 1st Annual NYC Women’s Empowerment Summit left me well fed.  Not only was the lunch provided by BBQ’s tempting, but the thought-provoking speeches given by the panelists gave me much to chew on.  It was refreshing to be around women that were willing to share their knowledge, become connectors and seemed genuinely concerned about helping other women achieve their career goals.  The intimacy of the venue and the size of the attendees made networking less intimidating.  I doubt that any woman left the summit feeling anything less than enriched for the experience.  Hats off to Alycia Kaback for organizing such a wonderful event, go Girl Power!

 To learn more about Alycia Kaback or The Women’s Empowerment Summit, click

 Photos courtesy of Touch of Menel Photography