The ELC Commemorates 15th Anniversary of the Women’s Leadership Forum


August 3rd, 2018


The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) hosted the 2018 Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) on July 19 at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown. This year’s event marked The ELC’s 15th Anniversary of hosting this unique professional and career development program for black women executives. The ELC convened its first-ever women’s leadership conference in 2003 in Washington, D.C. This year, we returned to the nation’s capital to host our 15th Anniversary event.

The ELC hosts a Welcome Reception at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown prior to the Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF)

More than 150 women members of The ELC and their guests enjoyed a full day of programming featuring energetic speakers and thought-provoking panel discussions focused on the theme, “Owning Our Power: Our Value, Our Voice, Our Vote.” The program featured black women leaders across business, politics, media and more who have successfully broken through the glass ceiling and shown us what it means to leverage their power.


ELC members and guests from 2018 WLF Leading Sponsor Capital One

The day got underway with welcome remarks from ELC President and CEO Skip Spriggs. He introduced Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03) who brought greetings on behalf of the United States Congress. Representative Beatty delivered a rousing speech reminding the women in the room that they must have the courage and confidence, and must practice collaboration to own their power. “It is not enough to say that you are the first black CEO or senior vice president, if there is not a second, a third, or a fourth behind you,” emphasized Beatty. Her advice and words of encouragement were truly inspirational and well received by our members and guests.

l to r: ELC President & CEO Skip Spriggs with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03)
l to r: ELC President & CEO Skip Spriggs with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03)

The opening introductions continued with Jennifer Jackson who delivered remarks on behalf of Capital One as our Leading Sponsor of WLF for the third consecutive year. As President of Capital One Canada, Ms. Jackson shared an inspiring story of her personal journey to becoming a powerful black woman in business.


Jennifer Jackson delivers remarks on behalf of Capital One as our 2018 WLF Leading Sponsor

The WLF women were then treated to a Motivational Moment titled, “Who You Are Is Non-Negotiable,” featuring ELC Member Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity Officer and VP, Human Resources at the Target Corporation. During her presentation, Ms. Wanga offered advice to women for both leveraging and maintaining your power as black women business leaders in corporate America stating, “who you are is who you are, and if where you are doesn’t work with who you are then you must change where you are, and not who you are.”

ELC Board Member Leilani Brown, SVP, Strategy at K12, Inc., served as our WLF emcee.She kept the crowd engaged throughout the day while generating excitement for each of the day’s sessions. Ms. Brown also had the honor of moderating a one-on-one conversation with our keynote speaker Valerie Jarrett for the session titled, “Power Moves: A Lesson from Valerie Jarrett.” Ms. Jarrett was the longest serving Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama.She is currently Senior Advisor for the Obama Foundation. “You have to give people permission to disagree with you. When someone does disagree, lean in and listen,” she advised during the panel discussion.


l to r: ELC Board Member Leilani Brown moderates panel discussion with keynote speaker Valerie Jarrett

Participants then engaged in a group discussion led by Dr. Addie Perkins Williamson, VP/Chief Learning Officer for The ELC’s Institute for Leadership Development and Research. This interactive session titled, “This is America: A Discussion of Our Reality,” was designed to foster engagement among the group and create an opportunity for networking and discussion amongst peers.

Following lunch, attendees had the opportunity to participate in one of two concurrent breakout sessions. The first session, “Balance for the Super ‘Shero’,” was intended for ELC members and other senior-level executives. The session offered perspective for how to balance and manage the various nuances and expectations that come with being powerful women in business. The second session, “Standing in Your Truth: Own Your Power,” provided invaluable insights for how rising black women professionals can position themselves and leverage their power in the workplace.


The women members of The ELC at the 2018 WLF event

The WLF program concluded with a session titled, “A Conversation with Cornell Belcher and Charlie Cook.” The political panel focused on the power of black women in the upcoming elections, both on the ballots and in the voting booth. Cook, a renowned election expert and non-partisan political analyst, and Belcher, an award-winning pollster and campaign data guru, teamed up to their share insights and personal perspectives on the 2018 midterm elections.


l to r: Cornell Belcher, ELC Member and panel moderator Gina Adams (FedEx Corporation), and Charlie Cook

A special thanks to our 2018 WLF sponsors for their generous contributions in support of our 15th Anniversary event, including Leading Sponsor: Capital One; Contributing Sponsor: Target Corporation; Partner Sponsors: Bloomberg and Turner; and Gift Bag Sponsors: Hallmark, Lbrands, Mary Kay and Under Armour.

Please visit The ELC’s Twitter page featuring top tweets and photos from WLF.

You can also visit our photo gallery on Flickr to view additional images from the event. For more details about the 2018 WLF sessions and panelists, download our 2018 WLF Program Book.

Also, check out these video testimonials from ELC members Tara Jaye Frank and Nicole Lewis, as well as WLF participant Antoinette Wright, who share thoughts on their 2018 WLF experience.



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