Monday, April 08, 2019
by Patty Johnson • email@example.com
BJC | More than 200 women from across BJC (and one man) filled the BJC Learning Institute lower level auditorium March 8. The group’s purpose was two-fold — to celebrate International Women’s Day and to kick off BJC’s newest Connections group: BJC Women’s Connection.
June McAllister Fowler, BJC senior vice president of communications, marketing and public affairs, and the group’s executive sponsor, welcomed the capacity crowd to the BJC Learning Institute.
“I am overjoyed,” she said. “Welcome to the kickoff of what is already our largest Connections group ever.”
Fowler noted the “amazing” energy in the room, recognized the group co-leads, event planning team and BJC media services for their support, and thanked those who donated to the event’s Dress for Success clothing drive.
Fowler then introduced keynote speaker Pamela Meanes, a partner with St. Louis’ largest law firm, Thompson Coburn LLP. “I am beyond honored to introduce Pamela Meanes,” Fowler said. “Every time I hear her speak, I leave learning something I didn’t know before — not about her, but about myself.”
‘Never stop until you accomplish your goal’
Meanes thanked the committee for inviting her to speak and congratulated those in attendance for making a conscious decision to share in learning, to inspire each other, and to embrace a connection in sisterhood and fellowship. “We don’t celebrate each other enough,” she said.
She then shared with the group the lessons she’s learned over the years and the key principles that she says have contributed to her success.
“No matter how old you are, where you’re from or what you do for a living, we all share something in common — a desire to be successful,” she said.
She told her story — from growing up in East St. Louis to becoming the first African-American in the history of her firm to rise up the ranks from associate to partner. Some of her anecdotes brought the crowd to tears — and some brought roars of laughter.
She stressed the importance of mentorship and encouraged attendees to find a mentor who would challenge them, advocate for them, recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and help them devise a plan to enhance their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses.
“One rarely succeeds in life without support of family and friends,” Meanes said. “Find someone who inspires you, who allows you to excel, who will involve you.”
She also discussed the importance of belief in oneself. “You must possess an unwavering resolve to succeed,” Meanes said. “I’ve experienced failures, but I’ve never allowed them to define — or, more importantly, limit — what I could accomplish.
“Never give up, and always be confident in what you do,” she added. “You are who you believe you are, not who people say you are. Against the odds, you must believe you are capable of succeeding and never stop until you accomplish your goal.”
‘Face everything and rise’
After a rousing standing ovation, Meanes answered questions from the audience, once again sharing emotional anecdotes from her life — and again eliciting tears, laughter and several rounds of applause.
Following a final ovation, Fowler thanked her for her inspiring words and introduced the BJC Women’s Connection co-leads.
Co-lead Emily Brasel, BJC employee communications director, also thanked Meanes, noting that the talk brought to mind the importance of facing one’s fears. She described two different acronyms for the word fear. “One is ‘forget everything and run,’ and the other is ‘face everything and rise,’” she said. “And facing everything and rising fits with this group. This is what we’re here to do together — to rise together, to lift each other up.”
Brasel encouraged attendees to give their feedback in the morning’s gallery walk, which featured boards with questions where participants could share their thoughts about the future direction of the group. “We had a great kickoff and we have lots more to do together — and a lot of that will be determined by you,” she said. “Your feedback will help shape what it is that we do moving forward.”
In addition to the gallery walk, the event also included breakfast, networking, a just-for-fun photo booth and the opportunity to have a professional photograph taken.
A group to ‘lift up and inspire other ladies’
Attendees continued to talk about the inspiring program and their excitement about the new BJC Women’s Connection.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that BJC has created a group where ladies can lift up and inspire other ladies,” said Stephanie Kurtz, BJC legal services legal secretary. “I feel so privileged to be surrounded by such a fierce and intelligent group of women, and blessed to have the opportunity to learn from them.
“To say we started on a high note is an understatement,” Kurtz added. “Pamela Meanes moved me to actual tears with her stories of getting knocked down, but refusing to stay down. Her ferocious passion for success inspired me to work on being a better motivator to myself and those around me. I cannot wait for the next Women’s Connection get-together and finding the opportunity to work together with these women to achieve great success.”
Terrie Hart, BJC workforce diversity manager, said she and other leaders anticipated considerable interest in the BJC Women’s Connection, and she’s thrilled with the group’s first event.
“Most organizations lead with a women’s employee resource group. Often that’s because, typically, women may be an under-represented group in the organization,” Hart said. “We knew that wasn’t the case for BJC overall, and we knew that when we launched a women’s group we needed to be prepared for the volume of participation.
“The BJC Women’s Connection leadership team worked their magic to prepare for this kickoff event,” Hart added. “And it was over-the-top successful.”
To see a video celebrating women across BJC, click here.
More thoughts from attendees:
“Pam was a great speaker today! Such a powerful message to share.”
— Pamela Bolden, St. Louis Children’s Hospital children’s health advocacy and outreach communications and marketing coordinator
“Today was extraordinary! Looking forward to building great working relationships with extraordinary women!”
— Carmon Smith, BJC physician referral coordinator
More about BJC Women’s Connection
The BJC Women’s Connection group is for all women across BJC, along with all other team members who’d like to show their support. Group co-leads are:
For more information about Women’s Connection, visit www.bjc.org/WomensConnection or contact one of the group co-leads.
Diversity and inclusion are a big part of BJC’s identity, and an important step to inclusiveness is connecting with and understanding one another. To learn more about BJC Connections groups and how to get involved, visit https://www.bjc.org/Connections.
Event includes Dress for Success clothing drive
To help serve the community, the kickoff event featured a professional clothing drive to benefit Dress for Success Midwest, a program of Connections to Success. BJC Women’s Connection participants were invited to donate interview-appropriate, nearly new or gently used professional clothing, such as men’s and women’s suits and separates, accessories and coats. Personal checks and gift cards were also accepted.
Attendees donated eight wardrobe boxes full of clothing items, including women and men’s clothes, shoes, and accessories, and more than $450. Several participants also collected information so they could later make a donation directly to the charity.
Number of views (714)/Comments (2)
4/8/2019 7:17 AM
I was so glad that I was in attendance at this great event. Just listening to Mrs. Meanes made me tear up a few times during her speech. She is just amazing. It's a testament to the God we serve. I can't wait for more events with The Women's Connection Group here at BJC, it was just a great feeling to be among great career minded women all in one room.
4/12/2019 11:41 AM
LOVE her words of Wisdom! Behind every Woman, There is a story.