On Saturday, December 1, 2012, ten women gathered in the auditorium in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library to tell stories to over a hundred invited guests, mostly prominent women from Buffalo and Western New York. The event was TEDxBuffaloWomen, the first TEDxWomen event to be held in Buffalo and the third TEDx Buffalo event overall.
I've had the amazing, good fortune to attend all three TEDx Buffalo events, and I can confidently say that the inaugural TEDxBuffaloWomen event was as good as any TEDxBuffalo event.
The event was memorable because of the quality and diversity of the speakers. The women who spoke at TEDxBuffaloWomen had quite different stories, perspectives, and delivery styles, yet all were interesting and wove in the event theme of "the space between".
My purpose with this post is to provide brief summaries of all the talks and links to additional information, when available. I know many people in Buffalo were very excited about this event, and I hope this will provide a sense of the talks for those who were unable to attend in person or watch the live stream.
Cecily Rodriguez led off TEDxBuffaloWomen by challenging employers to do more to keep their talented female employees in the pipeline through all stages of their life and career and thus ensure that women are on track to assume leadership positions. Flexible work arrangements and models, Cecily suggested, will go a long way to keeping women in the pipeline. Citing local examples West Herr and Synacor, and national models Sun Microsystems and PNC, Cecily demonstrated that flex is a powerful tool of productivity, especially for women.
Terri Parsell Hilmey
Author, mom, wife, and Junior League Buffalo volunteer, Terri Parsell Hilmey delivered a humorous and affirming talk about the differences and space between single and married life. Directed primarily towards single women who worry that they're not married yet, Terri revealed some of the tradeoffs in married life, including the fact that her hair has "been in a ponytail for nine years" and what most mothers want on Mother's Day is time for themselves.
Gina Paigen brought the TEDxBuffaloWomen audience to its feet (and tears to many eyes) with an intensely honest story about physical and emotional abuse and her path to acceptance and recovery. Beginning with a recounting of physical abuse, Gina told how her abuse led to shame and continual need for validation and bad relationships. Only when she forgave herself for being human, Gina said, was she able to let go of the shame and move on and make better choices.
Peggy Brooks Bertram
You can't help but smile after listening to Peggy Brooks Bertram. Coming up on her 70th birthday, Peggy infused joy and humor to talk about the space between living and dying and aging gracefully into your seventh decade. Live well, Peggy. I know that all of us who heard you speak will live a little better after hearing your wisdom.
Karima Amin is a natural storyteller and has clearly been telling stories long before there ever was a TED. Sharing some wonderful anecdotes from her parents, Karima talked about self-love and the space between what we think we can do and others think we should do. Two of my favorite lines from Karima's talk were quotes from her parents. From her father: "There are no bad days. Only good days and better days." And her mother, which sums up the talk: "I love me some me!"
"What's your dash?" Maria Angelova asked the TEDxBuffaloWomen audience. The meaning of the question was revealed in Maria's story, as she told how as a young girl she fled with her family from Communist Bulgaria. The harrowing experiences drove Maria forward and inspired her to help those who are hurting. The dash, Maria explained, is literally what's on your tombstone -- your purpose and what you did during your life. Maria knows her dash, and her talk will no doubt inspire others to contemplate their own dash.
Marketer by profession, Renee Martinez took to the TEDxBuffaloWomen stage wearing a superhero cape. The gesture took on greater meaning as Renee presented about the significant space between women and men in the digital world. Essentially, women's innate attributes translate to ease of use and mastery of social media tools, especially emerging platforms like Pinterest and Twitter.
Amy Jo Lauber
Amy Jo Lauber probably pulled off the most difficult feat at TEDxBuffaloWomen. She managed not only to combine a discussion about the right and left brain with financial decisions, but make the subject really interesting.
Punctuating her talk with key facts revealing the under-representation of women in Congress (women make up only 20% of seats despite being over 50% of the population) and several video clips demonstrating the media bias against women in politics, Amber Small passionately made the case for women to unite for change and consider running for office in greater numbers to balance the representation.
The original TED is rightfully famous for rousing talks and "ideas worth spreading". Tamara McMillan's energized talk to close out the first TEDxBuffaloWomen was moving, inspiring, and the best of TED. Focusing on the space between "a rock and a hard place," Tamara reminded us all to not be so hasty to judge, and act with charity and compassion.
TEDxBuffaloWomen would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of many committed people. Thank you to the TEDxBuffalo Organizing Committee and members of TEDxBuffalo who volunteered at the event.
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