"I HAVE A DREAM …" DR. Martin
Luther King's famous words could have been of great inspiration to Michelle J. Patterson
as she faced political opposition and boycotts while trying to realize her dream of supporting women everywhere by carrying on the tradition of The California Women's Conference (CWC) in 2012. For nearly three decades, women of all ages and backgrounds have found inspiration, networking and support for business, health and relationships at the California Women's Conference. Scroll below for snapshots from this year's conference, featuring Fran Dresher
, Marcia Cross
, Joanne Worley
, Tippi Hedren
, Melissa Manchester
, Helen Reddy
Often referred to as the "California Governor & First Lady's Conference for Women" for most of its 27 year history, this annual star-studded event has traditionally been hosted by California's First Ladies. With each successive administration, the size and scope of the event grew exponentially. When California's First Lady, Anne Gust Brown declined to pick up the torch held by every first Lady since Gloria Saatjian Deukmejian, a producer of successful 30,000 in-attendance events, Michelle J. Patterson (CEO of EventComplete, LLC), stepped into this void to ensure its rich legacy continued. Having first experienced the Conference herself at age 13th the year it began, she felt the need was too great to allow it to fade into history. However, picking up where the former First Ladies had left off proved to be an uphill battle.
Along the way, influential women joined her efforts by lending their names and their presence at the conference, including: Marcia Cross, Gloria Allred, Fran Dresher, Carol Channing, Mallika Chopra, Tippi Hedren, MariAnne Williamson, Geri Jewell, Donna Karan, Rose Marie and Joanne Worley. Among the record breaking 150 speakers and panelist were DR. Martin Luther King's goddaughter, Donzaleigh Abernathy.
"We began with our initial theme, Women's Economy Starts Here, but wound up taking a moment and turning into a movement," said Ms. Patterson, "I think those who attended, were inspired to go after their dreams and goals. I saw a variety of influential women, from powerhouses in corporate America to those who rock motherhood, communicating ideas and connecting on new and exciting levels. Programs and events designed to support women are being canceled, just when women need them most. I think this year's CWC returned to the roots of supplying what women need to become successful - an idea that began almost 30 years ago with Governor Deukmejian."
Many of the celebrated speakers and guests including Frances Fisher, Sharon Lawrence, Kate Linder, Erin Murphy, Lee Purcell and Ilene Graff, mentioned that despite the overwhelming statistics supporting the fact that women control both the purse strings and public opinion and have a growing presence within the business community, they still have poor numbers in comparison to men with regard to political voices.
Ms. Patterson offered her view from the main stage, saying "I think that we, as women, don't fully realize the power we actually posses. The glass ceiling has been cracked, but by sharing our experiences we can completely blow it out. Our influence in the home and corporate America has become solid, so are more influential positions in Congress and the White House be far behind?"
Patrons polled at the conference with regard to their favorite panels and speakers, glowingly referenced many of the same experiences, including "The Legendary Ladies of Stage and Screen" (featuring Carol Channing, Tippi Hedren, Rose Marie and Joanne Worley) as epic and historic moment for them. Others remarked on the performances by Grammy winners Melissa Manchester and Helen Reddy (Of "I Am Woman" fame) or the nostalgic moment when the women of "The Waltons" cast (Judy Norton, Mary McDonough and Kami Cotler) took the stage to discuss lessons they learned from "the mountain" and beyond to share with others. Many talked about being moved by Stedman Graham's and Fran Drescher's speeches on the main stage.
When asked for her most memorable moment, Ms. Patterson replied, "I think the most gratification I personally received from the conference came from my own family. Watching my daughter participate as a panelist on the "Be Your Own You" (BYOU) stage, as well as the devotion and support my son gave me every step of the event and my husband's own dedication and patience during this entire project has meant the world to me. I'm just so proud of them."
Ms. Patterson's company, EventComplete, is already making plans and accepting requests, from other noted and famous personalities, to participate in next year's conference. It is hoped that the conference will continue to provide a forum for building successful businesses, strengthening careers, and positively influencing the world around them.
Photo Credit: Bill Dow
The CWC Opens its doors.
CA Anchor women and CWC Speakers, Ana Garcia, Christine Devine, Wendy Burch and Dorothy Lucey posse with fellow speaker Stedman Graham.
CWC speaker Fran Dresher
CWC speakers Kami Cotler, Mary McDonough, Carol Lawrence, Judy Norton, Geri Jewell and Judy Carter gather in the greenroom
Speaker Marcia Cross addresses the Crowd
Joanne Worley, Erin Murphy, Tippi Hedren, Lee Purcell and Kate Linder
Women Influencing Legislation panel - Donzaleigh Abernathy, Tippi Hedren, Mary McDonough and The honorable Congresswoman, Diane Watson
Frances Fisher and MariAnne Williamson
Michelle J. Patterson thanks the Legend Ladies panel members, Rose Marie, Tippi Hedren, Carol Channing and Joanne Worley
Gloria Allred addresses the more than 5000 conference attendees
The CWC honors our Military Women
Comedy Panel- David Misch (Moderator), Judy Carter and Geri Jewell
Marcia Cross and Michelle J. Patterson
The Walton Women - Kami Cotler, Mary McDonough and Judy Norton
The Be Your Own You (BYOU) teen summit members - Emily Rehm, Cheyenne Hunt, Jordan Fagan, Jaclyn Patterson, and Brianna Benson
Melissa Manchester debuts "Beloved"
Backstage with Michelle J. Patterson and Melissa Manchester
CA News Anchor and Good News Foundation Founders - Ana Garcia, Doroty Lucey, Christine Devine, Wendy Burch
Mother Love joins authors David Misch, Judy Carter and Geri Jewell
Helen Reddy sing "I Am Woman"
Helen Reddy receives the "Woman of the Year" award from Michelle J. Patterson on behalf of the CA Womens Conference
CWC Closing ceremony with Lynn Rose, Michelle J. Patterson and CWC speakers
EventComplete CEO and CWC Executive Producer, Michelle J. Patterson, addresses the over 5,000 attendees