The pandemic wiped out plans for a powerhouse Women's Leadership Summit in Dallas this year, but the 2021 event is already on the books for next April.
"We cannot afford anymore just to use a portion of our talent. The kind of problems we're facing today in our community, in our country and in our world requires the talent of all of us and why would we shut out these extraordinary women who can make contributions to create a better world for all of us," said Helen Giddings, a former state representative. She left office in 2018 after representing Southern Dallas in the Texas House of Representatives for 13 terms and more than 25 years.
She vowed that her efforts after public office would include working to empower women in leadership. In 2018, she launched the Women's Leadership Summit in partnership with the University of North Texas Dallas Foundation. She pulled in a committee of 14 other women committed to helping Black women get onto boards and in the rooms where decisions are made.
"We are underrepresented in those rooms where decisions are made that effect our very lives," Giddings said.
"It's time for change. Let us in. Look at what we've done. Look at what we're doing but most importantly, look at what we will do for you. That's the message," said Faith Johnson, a committee member and former Dallas County District Attorney.
The women have long records of serving on nonprofit and governmental boards. In many cases, they were breaking barriers.
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"Faith and I have been the first on so many boards and the only so and so on many boards and all of that is fine and well, but we want to make sure that we're not the only; we're not the first and there are people who come in after us," Gidding said, "Because, the talent african american women have, Black women have, is so much needed. and there are so many women out there who are just as talented as we are, and we want to make sure they have an opportunity to get in that door and in that room because we are underrepresented in those rooms where decisions are made that effect our very lives."
"We want to be able to inspire them and support them and to cheer them on and say, 'You can do this. whatever interest you have, you can do it. We're gonna be your fall guy. We're gonna be right here to catch you if you fall. That's what I love about what we're doing with this organization. And we are making a difference because we have women who are able, willing, ready to serve and make a difference in teh lives of our community.our community needs them," Johnson added.
The 2021 Women's Leadership Summit is scheduled for April 9-10, 2021 at The Statler in Dallas.