Alignment embraced by D.C. C-Suite luncheon women 

By  Deborah BaileyAFRO Contributing Editor dbailey@afro.com The laughter and fellowship ebbing through a Washington, D.C. hotel ballroom on an afternoon in November conveyed the pleasure expressed by several hundred upscale Black […] The post Alignment embraced by D.C. C-Suite luncheon women  appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers.

Alignment embraced by D.C.                C-Suite luncheon women 

By  Deborah Bailey
AFRO Contributing Editor 
dbailey@afro.com

Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival founder, Stephanie Rance, hosts hundreds of Black women from corporate settings across the nation on Dec. 2 for the C-Suite Luncheon. Courtesy photo R.F Shanklin

The laughter and fellowship ebbing through a Washington, D.C. hotel ballroom on an afternoon in November conveyed the pleasure expressed by several hundred upscale Black women executives exchanging personal and professional stories, plans and dreams.  

These are Black women who have sacrificed to make it among the leadership ranks in U.S. politics, education, entertainment  and corporate institutions. 

That’s just who Stephanie Tavares-Rance wanted to attract for a three-hour gathering orchestrated in the lavish Black-woman owned hotel overlooking the D.C. waterfront sponsored by Meta.  Rance has designed an experience to support Black women executives who have done well in their organizations. 

 The C-Suite Luncheon series provides a safe setting allowing these women to close the door, take off their heels and authentically connect.  No superficial facades allowed.  

“What we all have in common is that we’re women, and we’re Black and we all have to find a way to navigate.”

“What we all have in common is that we’re women, and we’re Black and we all have to find a way to navigate,” said Rance, founder of the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. She spoke to the audience of some 300 women about success in all aspects of life.  

The Black women attending the Washington, D.C. C-Suite luncheon included  top level names from the White House, financial institutions like J.P. Morgan Chase,  entertainment giants at Disney, CNN and top administrators at Howard University in addition to other major universities.  

“The difference in this gathering is that many of us hold the bag. We’re the persons at our companies who are responsible for making things happen so we don’t have time to be pretentious,” said one participant. 

The theme for the D.C. C-Suite luncheon was alignment. 

Alexis McGill Johnson (left), Michelle Rice, Rahquel Purcell and Michelle Mitchell address the subject of alignment along with moderator Helena Andrews Dyer for Washington, D.C.’s C- Suite luncheon organized by Stephanie Rance. Photo courtesy R.F. Shanklin

Washington Post writer, Helena Andrews-Dyer, moderated a discussion that explored this theme with a panel that included Alexis McGill Johnson, C.E.O. of Planned Parenthood, Michelle Rice, president of TV-One and Cleo TV, Rahquel Purcell, a senior official at L’Oréal-North America and Michelle Mitchell, top content creator for We The Culture. 

“Are you connected and satisfied in your personal life; in your professional life?  Are you walking in your purpose and passion? Alignment is a moving target. That sounds counterintuitive, but it’s very real,” Purcell noted. 

McGill-Johnson, whose organization, Planned Parenthood, is in the midst of creating options for women in the wake of the U.S.  Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling overturning  the court’s ruling on abortion, added, “When I am truly aligned, I have full access to my power. It allows me to be authentic, unapologetic and unafraid.”  

Panelists continued the discussion with their own thoughts and experiences on the meaning of alignment.

“I think about harmony, finding that North Star.  For me, it’s spiritual and mental well being. It’s physical, take care of the body. But we need to talk about the social aspects as well. We’re always trying to learn as we get to that North Star,” Rice said. 

Others agreed their definition was along the same lines.

“I think when people are in balance across all the quadrants in their lives. Alignment is when you have enough oxygen for all the areas in your life,” Mitchell said.

The C-Suite Luncheon series is a movement geared to support Black and Brown women at top levels in U.S. public and private organizations, along with entrepreneurs and creatives.  The series of events, held in several locations since the inaugural C-Suite luncheon at the 2021 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film  Festival,  targets women of color who find themselves at the crossroads of leadership across a range of disciplines and offers guidance, inspiration and one of a kind experiences.   

“I believe in spoiling Black women,” Rance said, explaining that she became involved in such top-shelf gatherings when she successfully  organized the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival.  Rance “spoiled” the D.C. gathering by treating participants to an advanced screening of the 2023 musical drama, The Color Purple, produced by Steven Spielbrg and Quincy Jones. Similar gatherings have been held in Los Angeles, Denver and Atlanta. 

In 2024, Rance said she plans to broaden the concept of bringing successful women of color together into a three-day C-Suite summit in Denver for, “Black and Brown women who personify success, lead with integrity and find meaning in community and strong relationships.” 

“Stephanie is bringing us together to connect, support, remember,” said Gracie Lawson-Borders, dean of the Cathy Hughes School of Communication at Howard University. “This gathering has a different taste to it,” Lawson-Borders said about the unassuming ambiance of the event. “These are just phenomenal women from so many different backgrounds. These women too,  need support, friendship and a place to connect.”

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