Forget the “lean in” grind, ladies. It’s time to thrive up. On a crisp day at Eko House in Rockville, Maryland, witnessed a paradigm shift. Empowering Initiatives’ “Career Growth & Leadership” event wasn’t just another networking mixer; it was a clarion call for professional women to ascend without self-sacrifice.
Gone are the days of juggling career aspirations with burnout. Dr. Adebola Ajao, PhD, author of Empowered Woman: Five Principles for Living Your Best Life, and convener of The Empowerment Bazaar Fostering Sisterhood, set the tone for a day of reclaiming professional ownership. Introducing a stellar lineup of diverse voices who brought more than just expertise; they shared their stories, vulnerabilities, and hard-won wisdom. Fatmata Barrie, Esq., a legal eagle with razor-sharp insights; Dr. Catherine Pilgrim-Grayson, a maestro of reinvention, urged women to embrace their inner conductor and orchestrate their own rise. Efe Eworuke, Ph.D., a maestro of influence, offered a masterclass on building networks and leveraging relationships. Martina Fongyen, M.A., the zen master of self-advocacy, reminded us to celebrate our achievements and use them as fuel for the journey ahead. And Candace Mukendi, Ph.D., LCPC, the gentle yet firm therapist, guided us through the labyrinth of self-reflection, ensuring we knew our starting point before charting our course.
These women weren’t just sharing knowledge; they were sharing battle scars and hard-won victories. They shared a common but clear theme for the day: advancement with introspection, not annihilation. We need to understand where we stand, what we control, and most importantly, who we truly are. Ms. Barrie’s “Positive No” became a mantra, a tool to shield ourselves from soul-sucking expectations—a powerful tool for setting boundaries and protecting one’s well-being. Candace Mukendi’s Values Bullseye Worksheet transformed into a personal compass, guiding us toward fulfilling careers; a reminder that advocacy can be a collaborative dance, not a solo war cry.
Leadership, they proclaimed, wasn’t about climbing a pre-built ladder; it was about crafting your own, brick by brick. Dr. Pilgrim-Grayson urged the women to reinvent themselves, to use their unique skills to paint the leadership canvas in bold, unexpected strokes. Like a chameleon, they should shine in leadership roles. Her call for advocating for oneself and their teams resonated with every ambitious woman in the room.
Efe Eworuke revealed the secret of navigating influence and relationships: the power of authenticity and diplomacy, two weapons that can disarm even the most entrenched gatekeepers. The same was echoed by Barrie, who added that collaboration and diplomacy are key in finding environments that nurture their growth. “Let your strengths shine through volunteerism,” she said.
As the day drew to a close, it was evident that these weren’t just theories; they were blueprints for action. Women networked, shared stories, and offered support, creating a safe space for vulnerability and growth. This wasn’t just a one-day event; and with TANTV Studios, Isowa Gallery, MBA Growth Partners, and Oye Collection cheering us on, Ajao, also known for organizing her “Women’s Brunch with a Menu of Resources,” is confident that this was more than an event; it was a movement. It was a spark, a declaration that women are ready to lead, thrive, and change the game, all while staying true to themselves—and with partners.
It’s time to rewrite your story. Head to Empowering Initiatives’ website or grab a copy of Empowered Woman: Five Principles for Living Your Best Life.