3rd Annual Women’s Conference & Expo

By Charlotte Libov….

Members of the morning panel, along with conference co-chairs Dona Zemo and Wendy Dougherty. Pictured are (l-r), Zemo, Ana Cecilia Valesco, Dougherty, Matti Bower, Leah Hutton and Michelle Gillen.

To be a leader, don’t be afraid to stand up to the men who are eager to intimidate you, a panel of female leaders, led by Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower told a packed house at the 3rd Annual Miami Beach Women’s Conference earlier this month.

In the conference’s morning session, Bower recalled the time that her opponents tried to intimidate her by threatening to publish some photographs of her campaigning, most notably one taken at Twist, the gay dance club, where she had posed for a picture playfully poking a dollar bill into the waistband of a male dancer’s bathing suit.

“Put it on a billboard. You’re only going to get me more votes,” she told the audience, with a laugh. “I always figure, if someone is going to talk about you, you say it first,” she added. That was her first campaign, and, even though Bower was the underdog, she won, becoming the city’s first female mayor.

The panel, titled “Women Leading Globally,” included Spain Consul General Maria Cristina Barrios Almazor; Adriana Sabino, co-founder and president of the Brazil-USA Cultural Center, and Leah Hutton Blumenfeld, assistant professor of political science at Barry University. Emmy Award-winning television investigative reporter Michelle Gillen served as the moderator, and Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer Ana Cecilia Velasco made the opening remarks.

The day of feminism is not over, the panelists agreed; in fact, it’s needed now more than ever, noted Blumenfeld. Years ago, when she was living in Connecticut when she received her acceptance into a doctoral program in Florida. “People asked me, ‘Is your husband coming with you?’ Nobody would ask that of a man, she said.

Sabino spoke of her excitement when she recently watched the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president. “When I watched her inauguration, that was more exciting to me than watching the Oscars,” she said.

The event also featured an Women’s Expo featuring local merchants, a fashion show, and “Lunch in the Garden,” an outdoor event which featured gourmet dishes prepared by women chefs served in the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

The afternoon session, moderated by Kimberly Mitchem-Rasmussen, of the Political Institute for Women, featured Politico’s National Political Reporter Kasie Hunt; Germany Counsel General Eva Alexandra Countess Kendeffy; Tasha Cole, Chief of Staff for Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Christina R. Farmer, president, University of Miami Student Government Association.

For more information: www.womensexhibit.com.

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