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MCC conference March 10 will fund scholarships for women entering male-dominated fields

February 24, 2021
By Mary Beth Hope

In celebration of Women's History Month, the Metropolitan Community College Foundation and Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion are hosting a women's personal and professional development conference Wednesday, March 10, from noon to 5 p.m. The event, "She Is: A Woman in Action," will be held virtually and raises funds for women entering male-dominated career programs at MCC.

The public is invited to attend, and planners hope individuals from diverse backgrounds will feel welcome to participate and learn, network and grow together. Breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics will provide opportunities for conference participants to focus on their unique wellness, personal or professional goals or other areas of interest.

To purchase sponsorships or tickets, visit mcckc.edu/SheIs.

Bridgette Williams, executive director of the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City

Headlining the event will be Bridgette Williams, executive director of the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City. With more than 30 years' experience in all facets of the field, Williams is a respected force in the region's construction industry. She is the first female and first African American to lead the 68-year-old HCAGKC (aka "the Heavies") and among the first in the country to lead a major contractors association. The Heavies includes some 150 contractors and product and service suppliers responsible for constructing the region's critical public and private infrastructure, having built most of the highways, bridges, streets, airports, dams, utilities and clean water and wastewater systems in Kansas and Missouri.

Attendees will hear from a distinguished panel of women who are passionate about supporting and empowering femme lives through diversity, equity and inclusion.

Speakers at the She Is event, all of whom are local residents, include:

  • Judge Lisa White Hardwick from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, who will be a panelist for a session on "Women in Male-Dominated Fields"
  • Joni Wickham, former chief of staff for Kansas City Mayor Sly James, will lend her storied grit, grace and Southern accent to provide a motivational boost at the end of the day.
  • Nicole Jacobs Silvey, president and founder of Connection Coach KC, will facilitate a discussion on "Post-Election Unity Among Women."
  • Counselor and meditative scientist Diane Breneman will lead a session on "Cultivating Feminine Power."
  • Negotiation and body-language expert Mary Redmond will host a session called "FearLess Negotiators Ask for It."

For a full list of sessions, visit mcckc.edu/SheIs.

MCC Foundation Executive Director Jessica Ramirez emphasizes that, at just $100 per ticket, the conference is an extremely cost-effective event for those seeking to advance themselves personally or professionally.

"This is professional development," Ramirez says. "It's coaching you create for yourself, because you get to choose your sessions. You may be able to do that elsewhere, but because the event is virtual, it will be more intimate. You will have a front-row seat, and that's not always possible at in-person events."

For a donation of $25, conference-goers can purchase a ticket to sponsor attendance for an MCC student. Ramirez says that creating networking and growth opportunities for the next generation of leaders was an important priority for the event committee.

"The conference is a great way for participants to get connected with other women — to build relationships with women from right here in Kansas City," Ramirez says, "and continue these connections long after the conference is over."

While 2021's She Is event will be MCC's inaugural women's conference, Ramirez says the plan is to make it an annual affair. Each year's event will be called She Is but will have a different theme to reflect current issues.

Two MCC Board of Trustees members, Barbara Anne Washington and Ellen Forrest Martin, will be honored at the event.

The Barbara Anne Washington Women Making History Award will be given at each year's She Is women's conference. The award recognizes Washington's history-making accomplishments, including her commitment to public service, advancement of educational causes and advocacy for her constituents. Before being sworn in as a Missouri state senator in January, Washington served as a state representative for the 23rd District for three years (2018-2020). She has served on MCC's Board of Trustees, representing Subdistrict 3, since 2016.

In recognition of MCC Board of Trustees member Ellen Forrest Martin, MCC and the She Is planning committee are establishing a day named in her honor to be held each March starting next year. On Ellen Forrest Martin Day, a selected student will shadow a female mentor who is excelling in a traditionally male-dominated career field. Martin has served as an MCC trustee representing Subdistrict 5 since 2018 and is a retired, longtime MCC faculty member and administrator.

Everyone is welcome to attend the She Is conference, regardless of gender identity or background.