Women’s history month began with a jam-packed women’s networking breakfast Monday, as more than 300 attendees filled Le Meridien Delfina’s penthouse-level ballroom for a morning of inspirational speakers, awards, and camaraderie.
Organized by Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women, and Organization of Women Leaders (OWL), the annual inspirational networking breakfast honored both International Women’s Day, March 8, and Women’s History Month.
With the venue’s entry foyers brimming with displays of local women’s businesses, the early-morning start saw many keen to mingle with Santa Monica’s movers and shakers.
The annual event continues to be a success and a real reason to celebrate, according to Kathleen Rawson, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc CEO.
“It is always a great event,” Rawson said. “It’s great to be surrounded by really great friends, but it really shows the depth of women’s impact in Santa Monica…and it’s just a great moment in time to do that.”
The motivational and fun morning was aimed at gathering the top women business leaders from around Santa Monica, according to organizers.
This year the breakfast honored author, blogger, and founder of Intent.com, Mallika Chopra and VP of External Affairs for SOCAL Gas/SEMPRA, Denita Willoughby.
Both Chopra and Willoughby accepted Owlie awards and shared their journeys with attendees.
This year, the theme of International Women Day is “Weaving Women’s Stories”. Each year the Santa Monica breakfast presents an Owlie award in relation to the theme and for nominees’ commitment to the community.
“I love that women are celebrating each other at events like the International Women’s Day breakfast,” Chopra said. “We have so much to learn from each other, and networks of support give us hope, confidence, and inspiration.”
The event originally began four years ago with 50 people, the present-day 300 attendees is indicative of the broad range of women who contribute to Santa Monica, said Councilwoman Pam O’Connor.
“Women hold jobs, women do community service, women do politics. Women are involved in all aspects of life at a high level and this brings women of this community together,” O’Connor said, adding that it is vitally important to hold such celebratory women’s events to, “inspire us and to remind us of the work that we are doing and the importance of the work that we are doing.”
Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce President Laurel Rosen agreed. She said that too often, women don’t take the time to honor their achievements and those of women around them.
“Women are a force to be reckoned with,” Rosen said. “Especially in the business community.”
While businesswomen were a strong contingent at the breakfast, the event reflected a range of Santa Monicans, from younger middle school students, to retirees and volunteers.
“What’s really great about it is that we see women of all ages here,” O’Connor commented. “Women from all walks of life who contribute to the community.”
The former mayor of Santa Monica also said that it is important to recognize stay-at-home moms at this time of year, and that their role in the local community is as important as business leaders and working women.
Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women has a full lineup of events on their calendar to celebrate Women’s History Month.
With a Living History Tour of Notable Women, Free Breast Cancer Screening and Legends of Irish Witches events, there is plenty to do. Find details at: www.facebook.com/smcosw.