Local YWCA event empowers women, challenges status quo and brings up hard discussions

After welcoming their new executive director Moira Branigan this fall, the YWCA of the Great Lakes Bay Region kicked off the first large event under her belt last week.

The YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region’s 11th annual Women’s Empowerment Symposium wrapped up recently with the focus of bringing women in the community together under an empowered, focused and targeted mission to promote equality and peace for all.

Serving women from all backgrounds and walks of life, both the YWCA and its annual symposium offers unique educational opportunities, areas for professional development and a sense of community.

Women sat in a circle during one of the breakout sessions on yoga, breathing and reclaiming your peace with Amy Phoenix of the YWCA and Keri Kenny of Alignment 8 Yoga Cycle.

The event offered networking opportunities for local women, a various selection of unique pop-up shops, and a great night of perspectives from thought leaders and influential women in our region.

Local developer Jenifer Acosta kicked off the night with her perspective on being a changemaker in the land of status quo, sharing what she has learned from many years in commercial and community development.

Breakout sessions provided thoughtful dialogue that ranged from reclaiming your power through yoga, to managing to grow a healthy family… 80 percent of the time, to conversations about consent.

A stand-out theme and discussion topic of the night was the commentary and dialogue around women in leadership, the struggles everyone deals with in terms of combating personal bias and how women from all walks of life deal with stress, competing priorities and juggling professional dynamics with family demands.

Women of the Great Lakes Bay Region gather to hear different discussion topics.

Lisa Williams, Bulk Marine and Terminal Sourcing Director with Dow’s Global Purchasing Center gave the keynote on building others up and working to combat bias. 

“My thing, my superpower, is pouring into others. It comes naturally, I can do it from anywhere, and I always learn something from it, and that is the most important thing,” says Williams. “I am inspired by people because I fundamentally respect their stories, and this skill has come with much time and purposeful practice.”

Williams offered a very candid account of working through her biases and how it has helped her truly connect with and learn from others.

“I am biased. No doubt, I am human. And I battle with my biases on more occasions than I am proud of, but the point is I do battle. And I try very, very hard to win that war with myself, with information and education as my ammunition.”

“I do other things too, but this is my go-to because the true magic in my superpower, is that it is never one thing. Instead, that initial spark ripples out to places I will never know about and help people in ways I’d never dreamed of,” says Williams.

For more about the YWCA and local events, check out their website at https://www.ywcaglbr.org/.

Read more articles by Courtney Soule.

Courtney is a longtime Midland resident and enjoys telling the story of the community's evolution. As the Managing Editor of Catalyst Midland, her favorite topics are interesting people, change makers, outdoor recreation and design. Aside from Catalyst, her published work can be found various places including Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog and a number of other websites, papers, menus and the occasional one-liner. 
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