The Women's Conference

The mission of The Women's Conference has been to educate, inspire and empower women to be Architects of Change. Hosted by First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2003 to 2010, the conference became the nation’s premier forum for women.

The Women's Conference was the destination for the world's greatest voices, hearts and minds. Past speakers under Shriver’s leadership included former former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cherie Blair, Bono, Sir Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Deepak Chopra, Katie Couric, Elizabeth Edwards, Thomas Friedman, Diane von Furstenberg, Dr. Jane Goodall, David Gregory, Caroline Kennedy, Alicia Keys, Heidi Klum, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Annie Leibovitz, Jennifer Lopez, Somaly Mam, Her Majesty Queen Noor, Indra Nooyi, First Lady Michelle Obama, Sandra Day O'Connor, Her Majesty Queen Rania, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Tim Russert, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, First Lady Maria Shriver, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters and Muhammad Yunus.

With six separate events covering three full days, The Women’s Conference 2010 was the largest and most dynamic conference for women in the world. More than 140 newsmakers and world opinion leaders gathered with more than 30,000 women from all walks of life to be educated, inspired and empowered to be Architects of Change in their own lives, within their communities and around the world.

The Women's Conference became a “must attend” event. Each year, tickets sell out in record-breaking time. Tickets for The Main Event sold out in less than one hour, beating 2009's record of two hours. All 2010 conference events were sold out.

In response to this surging demand, The Women's Conference grew the event to three full days in 2010 with the expansion of A Day of Health, Wellness and Transformation on Monday, October 25 and the addition of Maria Shriver’s March on Alzheimer’s and A Night at the Theater on Sunday, October 24. These events increased attendee capacity by 7,000, bringing the total conference attendance to more than 30,000.

The Women’s Conference 2010 was produced around the overarching theme of “It's Time," which was intended to inspire people from all walks of life to see this challenging moment in history as an opportunity to come together and transform ourselves and our communities as Architects of Change.

Prior to the conference event, The Women’s Conference partnered with health care companies, health clinics, medical groups and community-based organizations to present The Modern House Call for Women, a groundbreaking three-day event that provided more than 4,000 free medical, dental and financial services to more than 2,000 people in and around the Long Beach area. The Modern House Call For Women took place from Friday, October 22 – Sunday, October 24 at The Walter Pyramid at California State University at Long Beach. All services offered at the event – including supplies and equipment – were donated by generous professionals and organizations throughout California. The free clinic was the culmination of Maria Shriver’s work as California’s First Lady – bringing together all of the organizations she has worked with to serve women all at one time. Some of the free medical services included vision, dental, mammograms, bone density, immunizations, PAP smears and more.

The Women’s Conference 2010 kicked off with Maria Shriver’s March on Alzheimer’s on Sunday, October 24 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Rainbow Lagoon in Downtown Long Beach and along the waterfront. Joining Maria Shriver to help raise funds for and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease were march celebrity co-chairs Jane Fonda, Soleil Moon Frye, Peter Gallagher, Leeza Gibbons, Natalie Maines, Jake Steinfeld, Jane Lynch and others. Amber Riley from FOX's hit show Glee performed live during the candlelight vigil. A minimum donation of $25 was required to sign-up for the march and all participants were encouraged to raise additional funds to support the work of the Alzheimer's Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research.

The first day of The Women's Conference 2010 culminated with the presentation of the inaugural A Night at the Theater event on Sunday evening, October 24. Hosted by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, A Night at the Theater featured a star-studded live performance of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” the intimate collection of stories written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron based on the book by Ilene Beckerman. This special conference production featured acclaimed actresses Rita Wilson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Caroline Aaron, Natasha Lyone and Carol Kane. A portion of the proceeds from A Night at the Theater benefited the California Arts Council’s Minerva Arts Project and Million Plates Campaign.

On Monday, October 25, the second day of the conference began with A Day of Health, Wellness & Transformation, which ran from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Due to popular demand, the second-annual event was doubled in size to more than 3,200 attendees. Hosted by Maria Shriver and organized around the theme of “It's Time...To Take Action,” the event featured more than 20 world-class issue experts leading interactive sessions packed with practical tips, tools and takeaways for how attendees can transform themselves personally and professionally and become Architects of Change in their lives. Session topics included “how-to's” such as Take Action in Your Own Life, Lead Like A Woman, Negotiate Effectively at Work and Home, Leverage the Web to Get Ahead, Tips for a Successful Love Life, and Find Your Frank and Fearless Voice, among others. Confirmed speakers for the event included Martha Beck, Deepak Chopra, Giselle Fernandez, Sally Field, Tory Johnson, Donna Karan, Elizabeth Lesser, Tony Robbins, Dr. Marie Savard, Author Gail Sheehy, and Dr. Robert Epstein, among others.

The conference's second day was capped off with the third-annual Night at The Village. Night at The Village transformed the Long Beach Convention Center’s exhibit hall into an over 160,000 square foot women’s village for more than 10,000 attendees. Hosted by Maria Shriver and organized around the theme of “It's Time...To Experience the Best,” the event featured: stage conversations with prominent speakers, notable personalities and women entrepreneurs such as Paula Deen, Jessica Simpson, Jane Fonda, Donna Karan, Giada De Laurentiis, Ali Wentworth and “The Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro; stage interviews and book signings with more than 20 best-selling authors such as Martha Beck, Deepak Chopra, Caroline Kennedy, Meghan McCain, Kim Barnouin, Cat Cora, “The Biggest Loser's” Bob Harper, The Happiness Project Author Gretchen Rubin, Holly Robinson Peete & Rodney Peete and Katherine Schwarzenegger; a make-over style session hosted by Jeannie Mai; a fashion show session hosted by Lloyd Boston; cooking exhibitions; live entertainment and interactive shopping experiences with women-focused products, services and information from more than 330 exhibitors.

The Main Event on Tuesday, October 26 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. featured its signature news-making moments and “once-in-a-lifetime conversations” that combine the world’s most authentic and influential voices with engaging discussions about the issues that matter most to women's lives. The forum's main stage conversations and fourteen breakout conversations addressed a diverse range of topics such as It's Time to Talk About What Happens When Women Lead, It’s Time to Learn How to Build Self-Esteem and Leadership in Young Women, It’s Time to Talk About Your Happiness, It’s Time to Hear From Fearless Women Who Use Their Voices to Change the World, It’s Time to Create Your Own Business and It’s Time to Talk About Marriage and Relationships: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. The lineup of speakers and participants for The Main Event included: Laila Ali, Carol Bartz, Erin Brockovich, Jerry Brown, former First Lady Laura Bush, Deepak Chopra, Rosario Dawson, Goldie Hawn, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Billie Jean King, Gayle King, Phil Knight, Nicholas Kristof, Matt Lauer, Laura Ling and Lisa Ling, Jillian Michaels, First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, Poet Mary Oliver, Suze Orman, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Robert Redford, Diane Sawyer, Howard Schultz, Jessica Simpson, Meg Whitman, Brian Williams, Oprah Winfrey and many others.

At the end of the day, The Women's Conference continued its tradition of honoring “Remarkable Women, Remarkable Legacies” during The Grand Finale featuring the always inspirational and moving presentation of The Minerva Awards. Held during the afternoon main stage session, the special ceremony was hosted by Maria Shriver and featured remarks by Mary J. Blige and by the five 2010 Minerva Award honorees: Oprah Winfrey, The Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, Oral Lee Brown, Sister Terry Dodge and Carolyn Blashek. The Grand Finale ended with a special musical performance by Sarah McLachlan.

Due to overwhelming demand, The Women’s Conference invited organizations around the country that share its mission to freely access the live satellite feed or live Webcast of The Main Event to create “Satellite Summits” on Tuesday, October 26 – self-organized, live viewing events that educated and inspired their own local community members. The Women’s Conference presented Satellite Summit New York City at New York University in partnership with The White House Project. More than 400 people gathered together to watch a live simulcast of the conference and engage in a multi-generational conversation spanning both coasts on the topic of women’s leadership. All in all, hundreds of thousands of women attended The Women’s Conference 2010 via live Webcast and at Satellite Summits throughout California and across the country. Women leave The Women's Conference transformed, inside and out. The conference encourages women to pass on their stories, wisdom, inspirational life-lessons and practical tools to empower other women to see themselves as capable of making a difference in the world.

Proceeds from The Main Event, Night at The Village, A Day of Health, Wellness and Transformation, A Night at the Theater, and the Shop With a Purpose (SWAP) Conference Store directly supported the conference's WE Programs.

 

THE CONFERENCE’S WE PROGRAMS


Commonly referred to as “the conference with a conscience,” the annual event has been produced by a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has also formed strategic partnerships with organizations to develop far-reaching programs and initiatives that seek to directly empower women all year round. We have strived to make lasting change through the ongoing work of our programs.

The Women's Conference community has been a global network of women from all walks of life who gathered every year for three days at the nation's premier forum for women in Long Beach, CA. We also came together throughout the year at events that serve, support and strengthen our larger community. And we met daily on the web at WomensConference.org, the home for Architects of Change.

As a community, we've worked together 24/7 on the frontlines of humanity to finance dreams and invest in entrepreneurs, lift people out of poverty, help end the cycle of violence, send young women to college, honor courage, wisdom and strength, and inspire people by the remarkable history of their state. We also have worked to build community centers, playgrounds and gardens.

The WE Programs, created by Maria Shriver, include:

WE Educate invests in young women by providing scholarships to enable promising students to expand their educational pursuits. Since 2005, the conference has awarded 48 Minerva Scholarships totaling $350,000.

WE Invest in women entrepreneurs. We have worked with organizations across the country to provide training, mentoring, support networks and microloans to empower more than 1,200 women to launch or grow their businesses. In June 2009, we expanded our program nationally through a partnership with Kiva.org. Together, we launched the first-ever online peer-to-peer microlending program in the U.S. Since the launch of our web-based partnership with Kiva.org, 179 entrepreneurs in 17 states have received 30,800 micro-loans, totaling more than $1 million.

WE Connect has been a groundbreaking program that connects poor working families to money-saving programs and services they may be eligible for but are unaware through our WEConnect.net web tool. We have partnered with organizations across the state to reach more than 26 million families in both English and Spanish. With our partners, we have opened three permanent WE Connect Neighborhood Centers in Santa Ana, Fresno and Irvine that serve thousands more and help add to the more than $110 million in savings already realized by struggling California families. In 2010, we made a donation to food banks across the state to provide more than one million meals to families in need and put on WE Connect Weekend events in Fresno and Los Angeles where we connected more than 65,000 families to these vital resources and nearly 300,000 pounds of food. Our WE Connect program has been modeled by 20 other states.

WE Act to end violence against women by investing in domestic violence organizations across the state — funding shelters, counseling, education programs, emergency hotlines, and other lifesaving programs. Since 2008, The Women’s Conference has awarded $240,000 in grants to help thousands of women and their families.

WE Inspire women to make their own mark on history by investing in exhibits, programs and events at The California Museum in Sacramento that educate people about the contributions of remarkable women and men to California's rich history. The Women’s Conference has been the single largest contributor to the museum, funding more than $1.4 million of special exhibits and activities. In March 2010, The Women's Conference presented a special “Day at The Museum” event in honor of Women's History Month that drew more than 10,000 attendees – a museum record.

WE Honor recognizes and rewards remarkable women who have stepped forward and changed the world with their courage, wisdom, and strength with the prestigious Minerva Awards. The awards were created by Shriver in 2004 and named after the Roman goddess, Minerva, who graces the California state seal. The Minerva Award winners also received a cash Minerva Prize from the conference to further their life-changing work. Since 2004, the conference has granted more than $500,000 and honored 33 remarkable women. Past Minerva Award winners have included Oprah Winfrey, The Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, Dr. Helene Brown, Betty Chinn, former First Lady Betty Ford, Dr. Jane Goodall, Billie Jean King, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Dr. Sally Ride, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Gloria Steinem.

Through its annual forum, ongoing WE Programs and online community, The Women's Conference has impacted – and continues to impact – the lives of tens of millions of women around the world.