Leading Women Defined: "Camp for Big Girls"

Powerful women gather in Washington, D.C., to share ideas.

Posted: 03/19/2012 04:00 PM EDT
Leading Women Defined, Debra Lee, National News

From L-R: Janelle Snowden, Dr. Michelle Callahan, guest, D.C. schools chancellor Kaya Henderson and Bishop Vashti McKenzie. (Photo: Phelan Marc/BET)

More than 100 Women from areas of politics, business and the arts gathered for Leading Women Defined’s Dorothy Height Luncheon at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C. The luncheon is named for the late civil rights pioneer (and millinery aficionado) and has become more of a reunion for some of the most dynamic and successful siblings of the family.


The luncheon is a part of the Leading Women Defined conference started by BET Networks' Chairman and CEO Debra Lee


"Women need to do for themselves, we have our own voice, we have our own power and we don’t need to be defined by anyone else. I wanted to get the most powerful women together to talk about Haiti, health care…to talk about ways we can help this president." Lee began Leading Women Defined three years ago by calling 100 of the most powerful women she knew.


It's an exclusive sisterhood, the crowd is invite only, and one can only imagine it is where deals are being made, ideas conceived, and mentoring opportunities abound. One attendee described it as "camp for big girls."


One woman getting her just due by receiving the LWD Butterfly Award is critically acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay. The founder of African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement and DVA, a movie media and marketing firm, DuVernay is the 2012 Sundance Film Festival best director recipient. Her film Middle of Nowhere made DuVernay the first African-American woman to win the prestigious honor.


Monday, DuVernay spoke about her plight as a filmmaker and how it was only her second feature film she directed that won her the coveted award.


DuVernay shared for the first time her view of the world, and how she shows gratitude daily. "I count the beauty before me, it's my private meditation to remind me I don’t walk alone in my journey. During the day, I literally count the beauty that’s presented to me and say, how great thou art. It starts when I open my eyes in the morning."


Beyond the luncheon, there were a host of discussions Monday including the arts and women entrepreneurs and business leaders. Attendees included iconic actress Cicely Tyson, Anika Noni Rose, India Arie and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama.


You can find more on the Leading Women Defined summit here: www.BET.com/lwd.


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