JVS Women's Leadership Network Sell Out 3rd Annual Conference

Guest speakers, left to right: Heather Thomson, Dr. Kristi Funk, Emcee - Kiki Elrod, Ethel McGuire and Anita Mann

Guest speakers, left to right: Heather Thomson, Dr. Kristi Funk, Emcee - Kiki Elrod, Ethel McGuire and Anita Mann

With more than 500 attendees, this year’s sold-out conference was the largest to date and delivered on its promise to inspire, motivate and move attendees.

The conference featured four highly accomplished women who shared their personal and professional journeys to success. Opening speaker Dr. Kristi Funk, a renowned surgeon and co-founder of the Pink Lotus Breast Center, delivered an electrifying presentation, empowering women to make the choices that can positively impact their health. Assistant Chief of Airport Police Ethel McGuire shared her struggle to balance the demands of her distinguished 23-year career in the FBI while maintaining her marriage and raising her two young daughters long distance. She reminded attendees, “Strength doesn’t come from what you do; it comes from overcoming what you couldn’t do.” She received a standing ovation as her two daughters, one an FBI agent and the other an attorney, joined her onstage.

Emmy-Award winning choreographer Anita Mann, shared the behind the scenes story of her journey in the male-dominated entertainment industry. She was joined by veteran dancer Cooley Jaxson, whose performance brought the crowd to their feet. Heather Thomson, designer and founder of the popular Yummie fashion brand and cast member of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York,” concluded with her own words of wisdom: “Without risk there is no reward, so when given an opportunity you have to take the chance.”

In a short presentation about the work of JVS, the audience was deeply moved by Paula Stern, whose daughter, an Army veteran, benefited from the JVS Veterans First and WoMentoring programs, which helped her transition back to civilian life; Felicia Cates, a JVS HealthWorks® graduate who was raised in foster care and now works at Cedars Sinai; and Deborah Smith, a domestic abuse survivor, who received the support she needed from multiple JVS job training and mentoring programs to land her dream job at Wells Fargo. Her words resonated with the audience when she said, “Success happens when opportunity meets preparation and because of JVS, I was ready when my moment came.”

The mission of nonprofit JVS Los Angeles is to help lift people out of poverty and assist them to overcome obstacles to employment with the goal of achieving economic self-sufficiency. The goal of The JVS Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) is to support JVS programs for women in need, with a special focus on WoMentoring – the agency’s innovative career mentoring program, matching women in career transition with mentors who are accomplished professionals. Each year, the WLN hosts its Annual Woman to Woman Conference to inspire and encourage professional and philanthropic women to become involved and to provide WLN members and guests with meaningful networking opportunities.

The 2015 Conference was co-chaired by Debbie Powell and Judy F. Rosenberg with vice chair Lucille Shalometh-Goldin, who will take the lead next year for the 4th Annual Conference.

September 25, 2015