More than 300 business women gathered at the MGM National Harbor last week for the first annual Women’s Excellence & Leadership Luncheon, hosted by the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
Under the theme of “Yes! You Can Have It All,” the June 8 networking event brought out the best and the brightest in the Washington metropolitan area to be inspired and charged up by powerhouse women from across the region who shared tips for having it all.
“We are extremely proud to be able to provide a platform where successful business women can share the secrets of success that have made them the dynamic, powerful warriors that they are today,” said EDC President and CEO Jim Coleman. “Prince George’s County is fortunate to boast that five out of nine of its council members are powerhouse women. Part of the inspiration that brought the EDC to celebrate women making things happen is my very own dear mother, a driven, hardworking woman who was the biggest inspiration in my life.
“Our panelists and honorees are fantastic role models for all women,” he said. “Today was an amazing day in Prince George’s County.”
Coleman welcomed event co-chairs Muriel Garr, senior vice president of SunTrust Bank, and Monique Anderson Walker, principal broker with Fleur De Lis, LLC, as well as luncheon attendees as the Economic Development Corporation dedicated this event to inspiring everyday business women while honoring five phenomenal women for outstanding accomplishments, contributions and dedication to Prince George’s County.
The primary focus for Women’s Excellence and Leadership Luncheon was to provide a platform for women to learn from others who are breaking the glass ceiling in male-dominated careers.
WUSA’s “Great Day Washington” host Markette Sheppard emceed the event and moderated the panel discussion.
“I am so honored to take part in such a phenomenal event,” Sheppard said. “Prince George’s County is where I started my TV career, so I’m always excited to come back to the community and give back. It was very encouraging to see women inspiring other women in my community.”
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, one of a number of dignitaries in attendance, along his daughter Quinci accepted an award honoring the county’s first lady, Christa Beverly Baker.
Panelists included Tammi Thomas, vice president of Marketing, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO); Shawn M. Wright, partner, Blank Rome LLP; Sharon Lockwood, hotel general manager, Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center; Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Quality and Mission Success, Lockheed Martin Corporation; and Carla Reid, general manager and CEO, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
Attendees were also encouraged to always move forward, take the time to learn the skills needed to get ready for their next role and to take the time to say something nice to three women every week.
Gloria Mayfield Banks, a motivational success strategist, international speaker and sales trainer, gave the keynote address.
Mayfield Banks told the ladies that everybody’s journey is unique, but that their ability to make good decisions, to sacrifice for long term success and to use kindness as their strength can move them from being number three to number one.
“Today was truly one of the most inspirational, educational and motivational experiences that I have encountered,” she said. “As I think about how excellence means so many different things to different people, I was delighted to walk into this room filled with women who get it; that excellence is required to succeed. The EDC gave a gift to Prince George’s County with this Women’s Excellence and Leadership Luncheon, just as Prince George’s County has given a gift in the opportunity to give so many powerful women the opportunity to succeed. It is OK to compete because iron sharpens iron.”
In addition to the panel discussion, the luncheon concluded by honoring five phenomenal “wonder women” who have made remarkable contributions in Prince George’s County.
The Excellence in Partnership Award was given to Angela Franco, former president and CEO of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for her advocacy and relationship building between the Hispanic business community and Prince George’s County.
The Excellence in Leadership Award was given to Julie Lenzer, associate vice president of Innovation and Economic Development at the University of Maryland for her collaboration and promotion of startup ventures in College Park and at other colleges and universities around the region.
The award for Excellence in Community Service was given to Lisa Liu, founder and manager, Long River Realty, for her service as the Asian business advisor to Prince George’s County EDC and her cooperation in creating mutually beneficial partnerships between the county and local Asian business community.
The fifth award was given to Sara Bahethi, corporate secretary/treasurer of Science Systems and Applications, for Excellence in Entrepreneurship. Through her leadership, SSAI, founded in 1977 with a small contract from NASA is now a multimillion-dollar science and technology company with more than 800 employees worldwide.
The Excellence in Education Award was given to Dr. Debra Mahone, director of state and federal programs for the Prince George’s County Public School System, for her role in school reform and leadership development.
“I am honored to have received the Excellence in Education Award today at the inaugural Women’s Excellence & Leadership Luncheon,” Mahone said. “It is a misnomer that it is impossible for women to have a career, family and full personal life. It is important that all women understand that it is not all our responsibility to carry the load; we have a network of resources, like the ones in this room, which we can utilize to help us. [This] event was an opportunity to bring that fact to the forefront again.”