I was recently asked to photograph at the Virginia Women’s Business Conference at the Sheraton Tyson’s Corner Hotel. I’ve photographed many events before and have been to countless conferences in my past life…but I was not prepared for a WOMEN’S Conference! It was tenth year of this conference and organized by the exceptional Tina Johnson of JP Events and it was DONE RIGHT! There were even awards for “Stellar Woman of the Year” and Young Stellar Entrepreneurs, high school students who were mentored and highlighted at the lunch presentation.
From the many inspiring keynote speakers, Michelle Poler of Hello Fears, author, Fawn Germer, and entrepreneur Cindy Munroe of 31Gifts, to the choice of nine different tracks (from Business 101, Power, Personal Development and Wellness) with back-to-back presentations in all of them from successful and inspiring businesswomen.
There were details that I noticed that made me aware that this was distinctly a women’s conference, for women, and planned by women. First of all, one track that solely focused on WELLNESS included topics such as self care, managing menopause, and reversing diabetes naturally; personal development presentations that emphasized ideas such as empowerment and building a positive attitude and planning for abundance. This is NOT a conference that I was used to attending back when I was in the corporate world.
Other little details, such as bottomless coffee and tea, fruit, nuts and healthy munchies throughout the day; a breastfeeding station right front and center among the conference rooms (no more being sent down the long corridor to the small, dark office); chocolate breaks at just the right time in the late afternoon, plus exhibitors that offered an opportunity to get a little shopping done (multi-tasking of a woman). All were distinctly female touches.
And the EMPOWERMENT speeches on the main stage, inspiring entrepreneurs and corporate woman speaking about their weaknesses and how they strive to overcome them, a level of vulnerability that was allowed because – hey – we’re all women and we get it! Things aren’t always easy.
Oh, and did I mention the dancing? Main stage speaker of Hello Fears that spoke about overcoming her fear of dancing in public, and got the whole audience up and dancing with her.? And at the closing session, instead of a coffee break to wake everyone up – it was a dancing break, to Justin Timberlake (and it worked!).
Only at a Women’s Conference.