Concord symposium champions the many roles of women

CONCORD, N.C. -- N.C. Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker had words of affirmation for women business and community leaders during a women’s symposium at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord on Friday.
Eighth District U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson and his wife, Renee, hosted the First Annual Women’s Symposium as “an opportunity to bring women together,” he said. His staff organized the event.
Leaders from Cabarrus County District Attorney Roxann Vaneekhoven to Novant Health executive Marimartha Matthews attended the meeting and led workshops about business perspectives, health care, nuts and bolts business practices and self-defense.
The overall purpose of the event was “to celebrate the tremendously positive impact that women have on our economy and our communities and focus on ways that our region can advance opportunities and grow our economy and return decision making-power back to our families and away from Washington,” said Renee Hudson, who opened the program.
Richard Hudson said he wanted to “recognize the role that women play in our society in terms of leadership in our communities, in the business world, in the political world and give you a chance to network and share ideas.”
“The economy is beginning to recover, in great part because of women,” said Decker, the keynote speaker at the forum. “Your role in this is incredibly important.”
She chose to share her personal philosophy with the women in attendance, focusing on personal improvement and well-being, which she said is necessary for success.
“I want you for the next 20 or so minutes to think about yourself,” she said. “When was the last time somebody gave you permission to do that? Because, as women, you are wives, moms, you are daughters, you are aunts, you are volunteers, you are professional women, you are advocates, you are child-care givers to children who aren’t your own. You are a lot of things every day.”
Decker said there are four rules she lives by: being open, making time to be still, being thankful and seeing life as a dance instead of struggling to juggle everything.
“We walk such a precarious balance that if one leg falls off the table, we’re in trouble,” she said.
The most important rule is stillness, she said. In the past, she felt the need to always be in motion, and “I lost my sense of self and what is important to me.”
Learn how to say “no,” she told the crowd, either by delegating tasks to a younger woman who could use an opportunity or by making the “no” temporary and nailing down a time to say “yes.”
“If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s not enough of you to give away,” she said.
Judith Marsh, legal administrative specialist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, came to the symposium from Winston-Salem to offer literature to participants.
She said she appreciated Decker’s talk, especially how it pointed out the “merry-go-round” of work, family and other commitments that women have to deal with.
“I really thought it was a good talk, no matter if you’re a businesswoman or an advocate or a mother who volunteers ,” Marsh said.
Concord City Councilwoman Jennifer Parsley praised Decker for her “down-to-earth example of leadership.”
“We get so caught up in life, and it’s very easy to go away from those basic principles,” she said. “And it’s really nice to sit in a room and have someone remind you of that, to kind of bring you back to that.”
Parsley said she wants to see more events like the Women’s Symposium, because women “look at life a little differently.”
“It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different,” she said. “I think women have a different look on life and a different approach to life as men, and so I think that it just brings another perspective to the table.”
Concord Independent Tribune, By: Tim Reaves
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