MISSED OUR LATEST SHOW? Podcasts of The Women's Eye Radio Show are NOW available on iTunes. Check them out and if you like, leave us a review. Click Here

Stories by Pamela Burke

TOP 10: Twin Sisters in Opposing Parties Run for Office

Twins Sisters in Michican running for office/Photo: CBS News Screenshot

Twin Sisters in Opposing Parties Run for Office: Michelle Miller–cbsnews.com–7/26/18–Photo: CBS News Screenshot

Women’s Leadership Conference Will Tackle Timely Topics While Changing Lives

TWE contributor Stacey Gualandi reports on the upcoming Women’s Leadership Conference in Las Vegas as she talks with Phyllis A. James, Chief Diversity & Corporate Responsibility Officer for MGM Resorts International, about their theme of Women Inspiring Women and the powerful lineup of speakers.

TWE Story of the Week: Women’s Leadership Conference Will Tackle Timely Topics While Changing Lives

TWE Story of the Week: Women’s Leadership Conference Will Tackle Timely Topics While Changing Lives

Las Vegas Women's Leadership Conference Group Shot/Photo Courtesy WLC

2017 Women’s Leadership Conference attendees including Phyllis A. James (3rd from left)

By Stacey Gualandi/July, 2018

Photos: MGM Resorts Foundation

“It’s up to you to forge your path of success.”

This is the simple – yet strong – message Phyllis A. James hopes to instill in hundreds of women attending this year’s Women’s Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.

“I know a number of people who decided after they went to this conference … to get a higher degree. There were two in our own department – our corporate social responsibility department – who went back to school to get their master’s degree as a result of going to this conference,” says James, the Chief Diversity & Corporate Responsibility Officer for MGM Resorts International.

Women's Leadership Conference Logo/Photo Courtesy WLC

The 12th annual WLC, set for August 27 and 28 at the MGM Grand, gives women of diverse backgrounds, who strive to achieve, the opportunity and developmental tools they need to continuously advance their lives and careers.

The theme is “Women Inspiring Women,” and it welcomes professionals, entrepreneurs, upwardly mobile employees … and men too.

Phyllis A. James from the Women's Leadership Conference Las Vegas/Photo Courtesy WLC

Phyllis A. James, Chief Diversity & Corporate Responsibility Officer

“The need for special emphasis on opportunities for growth and development for women … continues to resonate. It’s open to ALL women and that’s what I believe has accounted for the steady growth of the conference,” says James.

The conference is expected to sell out for the fifth year in a row, and will include a powerful lineup of speakers, like financial expert Suze Orman, Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke.

“I took up the mantle from others, and hopefully have improved and expanded it.”

WLC began as the Women of Color Conference in 2007 by local female leaders and MGM Resorts’ Corporate Diversity team, but lawyer-by-profession James rebranded the non-profit in 2012 and added presenting sponsor MGM Resorts Foundation. She says this year the conference will be right on trend.

“In light of social developments, particularly in America, but around the world, in the last year or so with the #MeToo, and the Time’s Up movement, the issues that the conference addresses have already become more prominent,” adds James.

I have covered similar forums in the past (i.e. Lead On Conference in Silicon Valley) so it is with great pleasure to see Las Vegas and MGM Resorts emerge as one of the leaders in the increasingly popular women’s empowerment movement.

I was fortunate to sit down recently with Phyllis A. James to find out more about the WLC, how the organization gives back, her advice to young women and the speakers she would love to have next year!


THE WOMEN’S EYE: What is the ultimate goal for this year’s conference?

PHYLLIS A. JAMES: The most fundamental role or goal of this conference is to inspire and motivate the women who attend to become the best version of themselves that they can be. Only they as individuals can define that.

TWE: What will the conference offer this year?

PHYLLIS: It offers role models, very powerful accomplished women who have done so many incredible things in life, not just one type of thing, but who’ve done so many different things that can serve as an inspiration to other people, especially other women.

We also offer workshops that are meant to hone professional skills or to share particularized experiences. And then part of the benefits of this conference is the exposure to other women in the audience. The networking opportunities are tremendous here.

Groupshot Women's Leadership Conference/Las Vegas/Photo: Courtesy WLC

TWE: Has the demand increased for conferences like this?

PHYLLIS: I’ve gone out of my way to make it clear that this conference is open to men as well as women, but, let’s face it, we still have, in my opinion, a special need for development tools in outreach for women, because women are still in a deficit or unequal position vis-a-vis men in our society and the world.

I rebranded [WLC] because I felt that the issues the conference were trying to address – providing inspiration and motivation, skills or practical tools or professional development, and avenues for networking – are really issues ALL women face.

Tarana Burke promo for Women's Leadership Conference, Las Vegas, Aug. 2018/Photo: Courtesy WLC

TWE: You have lined up many high-profile speakers who will be tackling topical issues of the day. Do you try to outdo yourselves each year?

PHYLLIS: Yes, we’re proud of the fact that one of our speakers this year is going to be The #MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke, so that’s very timely.

There’s probably very few people in America who haven’t heard of our keynote speaker, money expert Suze Orman. She is going to talk about how to manage your personal financial life. That is an issue for all people, but is a big issue for women.

Genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza is a powerful reminder that whatever is going wrong in our lives, there are people in this world who are struggling for existence from minute to minute, hour to hour.

Xernona Clayton, speaker Women's Leadership Conference Las Vegas, 2018/Photo: Courtesy WLC

And Xernona Clayton is one of the few living survivors of the civil rights movement who actually worked side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King. I would like for people to hear her story and what her contribution was to the development of the civil rights movement. Most of the focus is on the men, of course, and they don’t know the unsung female heroes.

TWE: What do you think sets the WLC apart from other women’s conferences?

PHYLLIS: Well, I think that many women’s conferences focus on similar messages, etc., and we try to provide a combination of speakers for the entire conference audience, along with small skills workshops, and then the networking opportunities. This year we’re going to go a step further and provide some coaching opportunities on a smaller scale than the workshops.

But I think that we may be unique in that we are the only women’s conference which has a philanthropic component. We don’t do this for profit, and if there are proceeds after costs, we invest that in our local community serving non-profits for women and girls.

This year, the MGM Resorts Foundation gave $10 thousand dollars a piece to three organizations that provide services to victims of human trafficking: The Embracing Project/The Center 4 Peace, SEEDS of Hope and The Rape Crisis Center.

TWE: What do you think is the best tool to help women lead, succeed and proceed?

PHYLLIS: I think the best tool is the inspiration to become more and do more than perhaps you were or did before the conference.

TWE: How have women been inspired?

PHYLLIS: I’ve had so many attendees tell me that this conference made them want to do more in their jobs. I had other people say, “This conference motivated me to decide that I’m going to volunteer. I want to be active in doing something for other people.”

And I’ve just had other people say, “This really helped me in figuring out how to do X at work. For instance, maybe I should be thinking about a different job path,” or something like that.

That to me shows the success of this conference if it is making people think about where they are at whatever their stage is in their life trajectory, and deciding, am I satisfied where I am today, or do I think I should be doing more?

Natalie Allen at Women's Leadership Conference, Las Vegas/Photo Courtesy WLC

Natalie Allen, CNN anchor and host of the WLC

TWE: What advice do you give young women?

PHYLLIS: Most of us are not gifted with unique attributes (we’re not great singers, musicians, authors…) or a unique gift that will carry you through the world. Most of us have average or good intellects, and most of us are not born rich; we have to work for a living.

I first tell people that you have to decide for yourself, first and foremost, that you are going to become successful independently in your own right. Success, by and large, is not going to be handed to you. It’s something that you’re going to have to work for yourself and develop yourself.

I think sometimes, especially now, a lot of young people believe that success is something that magically gets bestowed upon them. And some people unfortunately think that because they show up after college, or graduate school, “I’m here  success; you need to be tapping me on my shoulder.” [But] that’s not how it works.

The other lesson is you have to develop skills. And you should strive to be the best at whatever the particular discipline or set of skills it is that you choose to devote yourself to.

TWE: Is there one person you would love to have at a future WLC?

PHYLLIS: That would be Oprah Winfrey! The other person I’d truly like to have is Hillary Clinton. We could never have her because she was either in office or running for office in one way or another.

Group Shot at Las Vegas Women's Leadership Conference 2017/Photo: Courtesy WLC

Attendees at 2017 Women’s Leadership Conference

TWE: What do you get personally from heading up this conference?

PHYLLIS: I think that, for me personally, I feel very strongly that this conference provides MGM Resorts an opportunity to do something more that it should be doing as a company to develop women talent in our company.

I am in a privileged position where I have the opportunity to promote and develop and expand – providing to hopefully a larger and larger group of women – the opportunity to get inspiration to be better that they wouldn’t have gotten someplace else.

TWE: I like to think of it as a huge two-day ladies happy hour. 🙂

PHYLLIS: Ha. You could say that!

TWE: Thank you for your time and can’t wait to see you in August!

For more info: WLC






TWE RADIO: Authors Sharlee Jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis On Unleashing “the Stuff” Within Us

TWE Radio host Stacey Gualandi talks to authors Sharlee Jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis about “The Stuff,” their first book collaboration.

TWE RADIO: Sharlee Jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis On Unleashing “the Stuff” Within Us

The STUFF–Unlock Your Power To Overcome Challenges, Soar and Succeed by Sharlee Jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis

Sharlee Jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis, authors of "The Stuff"/Photo: Sam Maller

Dr. Sampson Davis and Sharlee Jeter/Photo: Sam Maller

By Stacey Gualandi/July, 2018

Don’t miss a BRAND NEW episode of The Women’s Eye Radio with Stacey Gualandi! Authors Sharlee Jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis talk about their first collaboration, The STUFF–Unlock Your Power To Overcome Challenges, Soar and Succeed.

Sharlee Jeter is the President of the Turn 2 Foundation, a non-profit formed by her brother, Yankee baseball legend Derek Jeter, that helps young people turn away from drugs and turn toward healthy lifestyles. Dr. Sampson Davis is the New York Times bestselling author, philanthropist, speaker and ER physician. Together, they have created The STUFF Movement to help us discover the hidden strengths within.

“The stuff” is an inner fortitude, and both authors know of what they speak. They’ve lived it. Jeter was diagnosed with cancer at 21 while attending college. Instead of giving up, she stayed in school and got treatment.

Fifteen years later, she is surviving and thriving. And Dr. Davis grew up in a crime-ridden New Jersey city, and faced time behind bars, yet went on to become a successful doctor and internationally-known motivational speaker and the founder of The Three Doctors Foundation. Oprah even dubbed him “the premiere role model of the world!”

"The Stuff" by Sharlee jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis/Cover provided by Gallery BooksThis interview couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I’ve been tackling several difficult issues with my family, dog and health, seemingly all at once. Both Jeter and Dr. Davis certainly offer pathways to answers on how not to give in to life’s nasty curve balls.

In the STUFF, Jeter and Dr. Davis take readers through 11 elements (i.e. “push limits,” “choose to hope,” “forge a motivation statement”) that will highlight how to overcome any obstacle. The authors say finding the Stuff can be learned, but it can’t be hurried…all you have to do is turn it on.

To find out more about The STUFF and how to unleash it, join the movement at www.thestuffmovement.com

Quote from cover of The Stuff by Sharlee jeter and Dr. Sampson Davis/Photo Courtesy Gallery Books

Instagram: @theSTUFFmovement
Facebook:  the STUFF movement
Twitter: @STUFFmovement


TOP 10: Oprah Winfrey Covers August British Vogue

Oprah Winfrey Cover on Vogue, Aug. 2018/Photo: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott

Oprah Winfrey Covers August British Vogue: D. Aitkenhead–7/2/18–Photo: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott

TWE RADIO: Fashion Designer-Turned-Author Sigrid Olsen On Redesigning Her Life

Fashion Designer-Turned-Author Sigrid Olsen On Redesigning Her Life

My Life Redesigned: Embracing Change, Aging Gracefully, and Finding Magic in the Simple Things

Sigrid Olsen on her book My Life Redesigned: Embracing Change, Aging Gracefully, and Finding Magic in the Simple Things and her Inspiration Yoga Retreats

Sigrid Olsen, author My Life Redesigned/Photo: Courtesy Sigrid

Sigrid Olsen holding one of her creative designs

By Stacey Gualandi/June 29, 2018

Don’t miss a BRAND NEW interview with author Sigrid Olsen on The Women’s Eye Radio with Stacey Gualandi. Olsen talks about her one-time fashion empire, her Inspiration Yoga Retreats and her new memoir “My Life Redesigned: Embracing Change, Aging Gracefully, and Finding Magic in the Simple Things.”

Sigrid Olsen came to our attention thanks to Sue Podbielski, a TWE contributor, who had the opportunity to attend one of Olsen’s Inspiration Retreats recently in Tulum, Mexico. Podbielski says it was so life-changing, she wanted everyone to know about Sigrid!

Sigrid Olsen's book, My Life Redesigned/Photo Courtesy Sigrid OlsenOlsen is the nationally known woman behind the successful fashion design empire SIGRID OLSEN for nearly three decades. But after multiple life upheavals: the demise of her fashion line, a breast cancer diagnosis and the death of her husband, Olsen had to face midlife head-on. She wasn’t “forced into retirement,” says her good friend broadcaster Jane Pauley, but “forced into reinvention.”

Now, through her personal story, Olsen writes about reconnecting with a long dormant yoga practice and how she “lost herself in meditation until the layers of stress peeled away and she could breathe again.” Her book offers an 8-step happiness checklist, and “inspiration for anyone seeking to find … balance and beauty in the world.”

Sigrid Olsen, author My Life Redesigned, Embracing Change/Photo Courtesy Sigrid Olsen

To find out more about her book My Life Redesigned, her retreats and her new business Designs For Living, you can check out www.sigridolsen.com

Sigrid Olsen, author My Life Redesigned/Photo Courtesy Sigrid Olsen

TWITTER: @sigridolsenart
FACEBOOK: sigridolsenart


TOP 10: Kate Spade, Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood, Is Dead at 55

Kate Spade, Handbag Entrepreneur/Dead at 55/Photo: Marilyn K. Yee/The New York Times

Kate Spade, Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood, Is Dead at 55: nytimes.com/6-5-18–Photo: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

TWE INTERVIEW–Katie Blomquist Is Going Places with Joy and Bikes for Kids

Katie Blomquist – Going Places Non Profit

Going Places Non Profit – Bikes for Kids

The Women’s Eye contributor Patricia Caso talks to Katie Blomquist, founder of Going Places, an innovative nonprofit supplying bikes to children in Charleston, S.C. area Title 1 schools. The bikes are for kids who never had the chance to own one. Katie explains how she started GP and what a difference it’s making.

Katie Blomquist, founder Going Places supplying bikes to kids in Charleston, S. Carolina/Photo Courtesy Katie Blomquist

Katie Blomquist, founder of Going Places/La Tasha Bellamy Photography

By Patricia Caso/June 5, 2018

Thanks to former teacher Katie Blomquist and her foundation Going Places, 1,000 kids and counting in the Charleston, South Carolina area, get joy in the form of a bike. Ninety percent of the families in Title 1 schools there live at or below the poverty line and can’t afford this childhood pleasure.

 “A child doesn’t choose their walk of life, parents or situations. Yet, if there is a little bit of joy, I believe it can change the outcome of a person’s life.”  Katie Blomquist

When I read about Katie’s inspiring efforts, I thought of my own adventures on a bike as a kid. We all had so many exciting places to go. Katie is determined that her Going Places Foundation will be an investment for improving lives of a future generation.

I spoke by phone with Katie so I could find out more about her and her ingenious idea based on joy and bikes… [Read more…]

TWE RADIO: Ben’s Bells Founder Jeannette Maré Changes the World with Kindness and a Wind Chime

Jeannette Maré, Founder of Ben’s Bells.

Ben’s Bells, changing the world with kindness and a wind chime

Jeannette Maré, Founder of Ben’s Bells.

Jeannette Maré, founder Ben's Bells, Tuscon/Photo: Courtesy Jeannette Maré | The Women's Eye Magazine and Radio Station

Jeannette Maré, founder of Ben’s Bells

By Stacey Gualandi/May 17, 2018

Don’t miss a BRAND NEW interview on The Women’s Eye Radio as Stacey Gualandi catches up with Jeannette Maré, the founder of the Ben’s Bells Project in Tucson, Arizona.

In 2002, Jeannette’s Ben died suddenly before his third birthday. As a way to deal with her devastating grief, this teacher-by-trade began making clay wind chimes that contained bells and tiny messages of kindness. [Read more…]