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TWE RADIO: CNN International Anchor Natalie Allen On the State of Journalism and Inspiring Women

The Women’s Eye Radio host Stacey Gualandi talks with Natalie Allen, the award-winning broadcast journalist for CNN International on the state of journalism and inspiring women.

TWE RADIO: CNN International Anchor Natalie Allen On the State of Journalism and Inspiring Women

Natalie Allen, a CNN International Anchor discusses living out her dream job reporting many of the world’s biggest news and environmental stories as an anchor for CNN, MSNBC, and The Weather Channel.

CNN International Anchor Natalie Allen/Photo: Elaine's selfie

Natalie Allen, CNN International Anchor

Stacey Gualandi, TWE Radio host with guest Natalie Allen, a CNN International Anchor/Photo: Selfie

Stacey Gualandi, TWE Radio Host

By Stacey Gualandi, August 24, 2018

Don’t miss a BRAND NEW episode of The Women’s Eye Radio with host Stacey Gualandi and my guest, Natalie Allen, the award-winning broadcast journalist for CNN International and host of the 12th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference on August 27th in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For over 25 years, Allen has been living out her dream job, reporting many of the world’s biggest news and environmental stories as an anchor for CNN, MSNBC, and The Weather Channel.

Natalie Allen at Women's Leadership Conference, Las Vegas/Photo Courtesy WLC | The Women's Eye Magazine and Radio ShowWhile she says she never intended to be on television, it was her perseverance and love of storytelling that kept her on the beat. She jokes, “On my deathbed, I’m going to say I just didn’t learn enough.”

As someone who has watched CNN since day one, I have always admired Allen’s career. She admits this is a difficult time to be in the media business with many journalists feeling “beat up,” but she explains how networks are keeping their integrity in check and conveying that through their reporting.

After shooting, writing, and producing a 3-part series of her own on child trafficking in 2011, Allen says what now “feeds her soul” is getting out in the real world with real people and doing stories herself.

Women's Leadership Conference Logo/Photo Courtesy WLC | The Women's Eye Magazine and Radio Show

What also feeds her soul is the opportunity to inspire other women. This year marks Allen’s fifth time as host for the Women’s Leadership Conference. It’s a chance to address a momentous year for women’s issues like #MeToo, pay equity and how to help women move ahead.

Be sure to tune as Allen gives advice to “Natalie wannabes,” describes overcoming insecurity and emphasizes the importance of a good eyeliner.

Stacy Escalante, pr for WLCLV, Natalie Allen CNNi, Stacey Gualandi, The Women's Eye/Photo Courtesy Stacey Gualandi

Stacey Escalante, Natalie Allen, Stacey Gualandi–The Women’s Leadership Conference/2018

TWITTER: Natalie Allen
TWITTER: Women’s Leadership Conference



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






Embracing Our Journey at the Women’s Leadership Conference

Women's Leadership Legacy Conference, Pasadena, 2012

Christine Schwab, Hope Edelman, Stacey Gualandi and Inger Miller

By Stacey Gualandi/Nov. 1, 2012
Photos by Stacey Gualandi and DPW Leadership Council

With this being a Presidential election year, we are all concerned with “who is the best leader for the job?”  Our leaders are often elected.  But, history has shown that many women have embraced and claimed leadership roles simply by electing to follow their own passion—from political activists like Susan B. Anthony and Lilly Ledbetter to Nobel prize winners Marie Curie and Leymah Gbowee.

Women's Legacy Leadership Conference, Pasadena, 2012

Well, there was no shortage of dynamic female leaders at the 3rd annual Women’s Leadership Legacy Conference held recently at the Pasadena Convention Center.

This year’s theme was “The Journey,” and one eloquent speaker after another—authors, entrepreneurs, Olympic athletes, motivational speakers, general managers and chief executives—shared their personal stories of triumphs, tragedies, and tributes to a sold-out crowd.

The conference is the brainchild of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Leadership Council.  Their sole mission is to foster the growth and leadership skills of their employees through educational and networking opportunities.  And with over 600 people in attendance, their mission appears to be working.

Stacey Gualandi and Gail Farber, Dir. of LA County Public Works at Women's Leadership Conference, 2012

Stacey Gualandi and Gail Farber, Dir. of Public Works, LA County

Gail Farber, the first female Director of the Department of Public Works in the history of the country’s largest Public Works Department, said this conference was meant to inspire, to encourage creativity, and to help us all learn from everyone’s journey.

I recently interviewed Gail for the local public affairs’ program “My County.” It must have gone well, because I was invited to speak about my own personal journey at the conference!  Normally, I just cover events like these, but this was a new experience on my journey, and I was certainly honored to be in such good company…

One of the outstanding speakers was author and motivational speaker Angella Nazarian, who emphasized we can all learn to be leaders at any age.  In her book “Pioneers of the Possible,” she profiled 20 of the world’s most inspiring women of the last century.

She says we can all learn leadership lessons from Amma, “the hugging Saint;” or the “Mother Theresa of the Far East,” Master Cheng Yen; or the artist Frida Kahlo.  All we have to do is build a life around our strengths.  Everyone’s personal story has power – now we just need to amplify our voices.

Angella Nazarian, author of "Pioneers of the Possible" at Leadership Conference/2012

Angella Nazarian, author of “Pioneers of the Possible”

Professional athlete and entrepreneur Inger Miller spoke of enduring injuries from a car crash only to persevere and claim a gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1996.  She says the grit and determination that helped her win gold has made her a successful event planner.  Her motto?  “Don’t worry, we will.”

Christine Schwab is a successful author, TV personality and fashion guru, but when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 20 years ago, she feared her career would be over.  “Designer dresses didn’t go with arthritis,” she said.

But Christine discovered changing lanes in life can be a good thing.  She is now an Ambassador for the National Arthritis Foundation and says advocacy work has become her life’s work.

Hope Edelman, the prolific author, whose best-selling books have helped families deal with the loss of their mother, recounts in her memoir how we are all capable of believing in the “The Possibility of Everything.”

And Phyllis Currie, the general manager of Pasadena Water and Power, says leadership takes education, experience, mentors, setbacks and also some luck.  She says the key to rising to the top is by defining yourself for yourself or “Doing it our way!”

Martha de la Torre/Women's Legacy Leadership Conference/Pasadena-2012

Martha de la Torre,
co-founder of El Clasificado

Martha de la Torre knows that all too well.  As the chief executive and co-founder of El Clasificado, a Spanish-language weekly “penny saver,” she was an “accidental entrepreneur” who overcame a recession, near-bankruptcy and reinvention to emerge a role model, and a huge success. There were so many more amazing speakers, so when it came time for me to discuss my topic, “Leadership Through the Media,” I was a little nervous, but definitely energized.

I chose to describe my journey as the three R’s:  the Rise, the Rejection, and the Reinvention. I’ve had success, and I’ve had failure, and I’ve been able to rise again.  I quoted Gail Farber in my speech, and I’ll quote her again here:  “Leaders need to see adversity as an opportunity and that failure is an opportunity to try again and succeed.”  These are words I now live by.

Stacey Gualandi speaking at the Women's Leadership Conference/Pasadena 2012

Stacey Gualandi, host of TWE Radio, speaking

It was actually kind of enjoyable to write about my journey…I encourage everyone to do that.  And while I don’t necessarily always feel like a leader, I do believe I can inspire everyone’s “inner leader” by covering events like this conference through The Women’s Eye.

I’d like to thank to Rossana D’Antonio and Christie Smith for inviting me to be a part of this conference.  Each year this event has grown, and that shows there is a never-ending supply of stories from women who lead, make change, and succeed, which is terrific news.  And who knows? Maybe someday soon, we will elect a female to lead our country.