Gaining Insight and Wisdom at the Young Women’s Leadership Conference

The 2016 Young Women’s Leadership Conference brought together nearly 200 Jewish women from across the United States to network with and learn from JWI’s inspiring Women to Watch honorees. Alyce Blum attended the event and wrote about her experience for JW magazine. 

by Alyce R. Blum

Photo by Michael Bennett Kress Members of the Young Women's Leadership Network pose for a photo at the 2016 Women to Watch gala.

Photo by Michael Bennett Kress

Members of the Young Women's Leadership Network pose for a photo at the 2016 Women to Watch gala.

We become more confident when we work together, when we lift each other up and when we're not afraid enough to use our voices for the common good. 

- Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, JWI Woman to Watch Honoree

(L to R) Alyce Blum, JWI CEO Lori Weinstein, and N.Y. Young Women's Leadership Network board members Erika Berger, Sara Wiesenfeld, and Hannah Deoul were all smiles at the 2016 Young Women's Leadership Conference. 

(L to R) Alyce Blum, JWI CEO Lori Weinstein, and N.Y. Young Women's Leadership Network board members Erika Berger, Sara Wiesenfeld, and Hannah Deoul were all smiles at the 2016 Young Women's Leadership Conference. 

It's incredible how one afternoon can change your life for the better. That's how I felt after attending the Young Women's Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. This was not your average women's conference. This was five hours that opened my eyes to endless opportunities not only for myself, but also for all the Jewish women around me. 
 
JWI and its Young Women’s Leadership Network have only been part of my life for a few months, so this was my first time attending the annual conference. I didn't know what to expect. Truth be told, I was blown away by the organization of the conference and more importantly by the quality of speakers and sessions that were made available to me. 

Members of JWI's Young Women's Leadership Network enjoy a coffee break at the 2016 Young Women's Leadership Conference.

Members of JWI's Young Women's Leadership Network enjoy a coffee break at the 2016 Young Women's Leadership Conference.

Speakers, all of whom were 2016 Women to Watch honorees, included CEOs of major foundations, Fortune 500 companies, world renowned doctors, serial and seriously successful entrepreneurs, educators, community organizers, activists, and of one of the most inspiring rabbis I've ever met. Each was incredibly passionate and well-educated, a thriving leader in her field. And each engaged with the young women in the room and answered our questions honestly. 

Unlike other conferences I’ve attended, the speakers weren't there only to be heard. Rather, their intention was to share tips, tools, and strategies they wish they had known earlier in their personal and professional lives. They shared these learned insights with us, hoping to make our paths to success a little less bumpy. 
 
Perhaps my favorite part of the day came toward the end, when we broke into small groups for a speed networking session. Now, I get it, most people cringe at the word, 'networking', but the energy in the room during this activity was infectious in the best way possible. 

The small groups were each facilitated by two current or past Women to Watch honorees. Their openness and ability to create meaningful conversation and connect with all the women gathered at their tables was noteworthy. One participant in my group even said, "I've never felt confident enough to ask this question, but I'm going to ask it today because I feel like I'm in a safe, supportive group and I'm excited to hear your ideas." For me, witnessing this young woman's transformational experience made this conference stand out from all others. 
 
JWI’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference is an incredible opportunity for Jewish women millennials who are looking to build connections and make a difference in both their personal lives and in the world. I can say with complete certainty that I'll be back next year. I hope sharing my experience will inspire others to join me so that we can continue to become the best versions of ourselves, while simultaneously growing this beautiful community of powerful Jewish women. 

Alyce R. Blum is a certified professional coach and a founding member of the Young Women’s Leadership Network’s Denver board.