“When I dare to be powerful, it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid, dare to be powerful, dare to be afraid” – Chirlane McCray.
The CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference was held at Hunter College. It was the 10th annual Women’s Leadership Conference. The topic: “Leadership for the Next 10 Years: Advancing the Agenda.”
It would be my second time attending the conference.
The conference was a moving experience because of the speakers and the students. The key speaker was Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York City. When she came up to the auditorium to speak, she was soft-spoken. Her speech was motivating.
McCray studied English in the university. It was the field she felt passionate about.
“I wanted to use the power of language to create a better world. I knew that somehow, some way, I was going to make it” said McCray.
After college, she worked in a bookstore. She later worked at battered women’s shelters. McCray listened deeply to the women’s stories and learned much. She continued to pursue work that will enable her to write and help women.
“I was right to follow my heart and figure out what I want to do because that led to the path of happiness and success,” said McCray.
The theme of the conference was that women take ownership of their goals, their pursuits. That they not let fear and doubt cripple them.
After McCray spoke, the students broke out to different sessions, the New York City Government and New York State Legislators panel. Then, Joyce M. Roche, author and former President & CEO of “Girls Incorporated” discussed the necessity of speaking up.
“Learn how to validate and acknowledge yourself, that you do not stay silent,” said Roche.
Roche also placed emphasis that the fear of not speaking up or standing out has to do with the “imposter syndrome.” She said that this is what most women fear, that they are not good enough, that they do not deserve to be where they are.
Roche said that we feel this way when we’re different from the people we work with or the environment we find ourselves in. This often has to do with race and gender.
Roche says that women need to know that they deserve a seat at that “table,” that they deserve to be where their heart desires. She added, once we get to where we want to go, don’t forget to bring other women along.