"Women Helping Women"
Networking in any city can be daunting but perhaps especially so in Washington, DC where everybody appears to be polished to the max, uber successful and terrifyingly confident about their skills and abilities. For us at Ladies DC it's very important to look beyond the intimidation factor and fully live up to our motto of 'women helping women'. Our monthly happy hours take place every third Tuesday of the month and are designed to inspire, not intimidate. 

At our happy hours, you'll meet ladies who may have just moved to the area mixing with seasoned DC 'veterans' who are happy to share any inside knowledge of the city. You might meet a fellow LDC member and arrange to have coffee to talk about job related opportunities, or you might find a kindred spirit and make a friend for life. 

 You just never know who you might meet at one of our happy hours (or at our upcoming summer brunch!) - we're not about intimidation, we're all about interacting, connecting, learning and growing together while supporting one another. This is exactly why it's so great to come across a blog post by two recent graduates who ventured out to our recent happy hour, far beyond their comfort zone 'bubble'. Below is an excerpt from their post. Thank you ladies for coming and for sharing your experience on the blog. We hope to see you next time- keep an eye out for more information in our newsletter, our website, our Facebook page and on Twitter

'Networking Beyond the Bubble with Ladies DC'

Being two recent graduates with freshly burst “collegiate bliss” bubbles, the world became that much more tangible for Nicole and I as we mixed and mingled with a room full of remarkably gifted women at the Ladies DC Happy Hour event last Tuesday.

As college students, we lived in an invisible bubble that shielded us from the “real world”. We were oblivious to the challenges of life happening all around us. That is, until graduation abruptly burst our utopic spheres and shoved us into adulthood.

While at the networking event, we eased our way into the newly renovated Melrose Hotel, grabbed a few hors’devours, ordered glasses of water and found our way to the nearest table, in the corner of course. We figured this would give us an opportunity to scope out the room and allow us some time to map out how we would go about approaching these seemingly intimidating ladies.

That plan was short lived.  Before we knew it, a steady line of put together, highly educated women began to gravitate towards us! Completely stunned that these women would even want to chat with the two most naïve looking faces in the room (us), we did what we do best - pretend we aren't afraid and talk till our jaws are tired.

We were first approached by Joanna Platt and her friend Victoria. Joanna shared with us her passion: working as a life coach of her own firm, Cup of Tea coaching....

Continue reading the original blog post here 

Kara writes about all things beauty and style on her blog, Politics of Pretty. By day, Kara is a marketing consultant for Vocus, a marketing and PR software company in Beltsville, Md., working with small and mid-market businesses on their digital marketing and PR strategy. Kara graduated from Towson University with a degree in journalism and new media. Prior to Vocus, Kara wrote for a bevy of lifestyle magazines in DC. 

1. Favorite place to relax in DC? 
The Georgetown Waterfront. Nothing beats happy hour by the water (and shopping on M Street after!). 

2. Best advice you ever received? 

It's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. 

3. Last meal?

 Brick oven white pizza

4. If your best friend could use one word to describe you, it would be: Ambitious. 

5. I'm never fully dressed without: A stack of bracelets and lip gloss. 

Sarah Waybright, owner/founder of WhyFoodWorks LLC, is a dietitian and enthusiast of real food, running, and pottery. She lives in Washington, DC, and provides healthy, interactive dinner parties for people who want to be inspired to know better, cook better, and eat better.  Check her out on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or her blog!

Favorite place to relax in DC?
There's something I find really calming and beautiful about watching airplanes, so Gravelly Point or Hains Point with a good picnic and good friends! 

Best advice you ever received?
 Surround yourself with positive people, talk to yourself in a positive voice, and write down your goals!  It sounds cheesy, but I do an infomercial workout (Turbofire!) and Chalene Johnson, the creator, drives those home while you're breaking a crazy sweat and perfecting roundhouse kicks.
Picture courtesy of www.fannetasticfood.com

Last meal?
An avocado omelet with provolone, whole wheat toast with butter, and Scottish black tea...I prioritize protein, fiber, and fruits & vegetables at every meal.  It's how I structure what I eat and how I teach people to make better choices!

If your best friend could use one word to describe you, it would be: 

Well, I don't know if it's the first word she'd think of, but the one I'm most happy she told me I was is "strong."  I had some tough personal breaks last year in the midst of launching WhyFoodWorks, and it helped to know that other people thought I could handle what life was throwing me. 

I'm never fully dressed without: 
A watch and the right scarf will pull together any look!

It's time to break out the cupcakes and bubbles! For the last six months, the Ladies DC Mentorship Committee has been meeting regularly to build a mentoring program, and they're now ready to unveil the details at this month's Ladies DC happy hour on Tuesday, June 25. We'll be at the historical Camden Roosevelt above U St., with an open bubbly/beer bar, and lots of cupcakes floating around. Even better, the Mentorship Committee (led by the formidable Yanire Brana) will be there in force, ready to answer questions and explain the process.

The Mentorship Committee is made up of a remarkable group of volunteers: intensely busy, successful women who manage to carve out a few hours a month to dedicate themselves to the motto, 'Women Helping Women.' After some initial planning sessions, a Ladies DC-wide survey on mentoring needs, and some more planning, they now have the structure in place for the program, and the summer will be dedicated to bringing it to life.

A few years ago, Ladies DC did a mentorship 'drive' that was actually more of a matchmaking exercise. This time, the Ladies DC Mentoring Program will be comprehensive, facilitated, and monitored. Each 'class' will have an orientation and a set number of meetings. Mentees will have a choice between group or individual mentoring. Group sessions will be structured around 'tracks' (I can reveal that one track will focus on negotiation - come to the happy hour to learn about the other tracks). The Mentorship Program will scale up to have national reach, making the mentor and resource pool that much richer -- we are, after all, a part of Ladies America! Over the summer, we plan to work with Ladies New York to have a mentoring group running concurrently with one here in DC - and then have each group share the lessons they've learned. 

Our Pinterest page will also be kicking off at this happy hour with a board devoted to mentoring - LDC Communications Officer Erica Glotfelty has been pinning like crazy, and would love to show you our new boards with a mentorship theme!

So join us on Tuesday for our monthly happy hour - you'll be able to register at the door, but I heart you if you register ahead of time -- it will make stocking the bar that much easier. 

See you Tuesday!



We're please to have you meet Amina Lillie Gilyard, Founder of A.G. Health Strategies, ORISE fellow at the FDA, Doctoral candidate at GWU, reigning Miss Exquisite International and tireless advocate and supporter of the Wellness Ambassadors program. 
Here's what a day in Amina's life looks like: 

 Amina, you sure keep busy in DC! Between directing a pageant and completing a fellowship at the FDA, how do you make time for it all?
 I don't overwhelm myself trying to do the impossible- you can't make the day longer than 24 hours. I set priorities for each day and try my best to get it all done. If I don't complete all my tasks by a certain time, I push it until the next day. Its important to realize you are not superwoman to avoid burnouts. Also, having the ability to focus on multiple tasks at once has helped me tremendously. However, my efficiency has been years in the making. After lots of practice I've learned to anticipate my weaknesses and tendencies. I can't foresee everything, but it helps knowing my common mistakes so I can be proactive. Saves time and energy! 

We hear you are going back to school! Tell us more about that!
 In the fall I will begin the doctoral program in Human and Organizational Learning (HOL) at George Washington University (GWU). I have always been focused on Public Health Education, which is why I earned a Master's degree in Health Education. But, as time went on I realized I had a passion for systematically solving problems, organizational culture and training. Not only that, I also realized I am great at it! 

It was by chance that I even applied to the HOL program at GWU. Many people don't know this, but I have been applying to doctoral programs since 2010 and have consistently been rejected. I was slightly discouraged but didn't give up because I knew one day I would find the perfect fit. Just days after receiving yet another rejection letter, I took to the internet to do more research. That is when I learned about the HOL program at GWU and realized it was what I had been looking for. I was so excited to be admitted, but even more excited to learn that I was awarded a Merit Fellowship. GW is paying my full tuition for the 2013-14 academic year. Everything works out when and how it is supposed to, just have faith!

As a female professional, what inspires and motivates you here in DC? 
I am inspired daily by what I see around me. I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with some very successful women. Not just successful in business or career either, but women that are loving and living life to the fullest. I believe in surrounding myself with women who are smarter and more ambitious than myself...I figure some of it will rub off! I am also motivated by the need for female mentoring. I feel that women have worked so hard for so long to get into positions we were previously shutout of, that we sometimes forget to reach back and help another sister up. I am so glad Ladies DC is starting a mentorship program. It is much needed and timely.

Give us your inside scoop on DC- what are your favorite thing to do in the city?
 I am a metro girl! I rely heavily on public transportation, so when I have some down time I make a game out of it. I ride the metro rail to a station I have never exited before. After exiting the station, I take a little tour of the area and sometimes sit at a cafe or restaurant and relax. Its a fun way to explore and learn DC!

What advice would you give to other carieer oriented ladies in DC? 
Three major pieces of advice 1) The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it 2) Leave no stone unturned 3) Restrategize before you quit (multiple times if necessary). I've faced many challenges in my professional development and in every instance I leaned on at least one of these principles to get me through!

GM! Amina Lillie Gilyard here at work. I'm in month 8 of my Fellowship :). Took me a while to find someone to take this pic bc everyone's SO BUSY!#careerwomen

Its Amina here! After morning meetings I like to hit the employee gym! Most days I run on the treddy then visit the weight room. But, I also LOVE the Zumba & Yoga classes they offer here.#womenshealth #stayactive #balance

Amina again! Training & Ed. Fellow by day-Queen & health advocate by night. At the Arthritis Foundation Purses with Power event. I live for a good evening gown! #janeofalltrades #womenleadinheels

Its your DC Diva Amina! :) Having a blast at Purses with Power! Here I am with Miss Wheelchair America 2006!! Isn't she GORGE??!?!? And the nicest woman too! #superwoman #womenmakeadifference

Its Amina, of course ;). The evening is winding down & its been a FULL day. No better way to end it then meeting legendary news anchor J.C. Hayward! She is beautiful, welcoming and generous! Ahhhh what a wonderful day. Until next time ladies...STAY AMAZING!  
#makeherstory #ladiesdc #womenempowerment


On May 19, 2013, 100 people from around the country crowded into a ballroom at the DoubleTree Hilton to witness the crowning of the first ever DC and Mid-Atlantic Exquisite Queens. Each woman was crowned, doted on, and then put to work! Long-time Ladies DC member Cassandra Bratcher was crowned Mrs. DC Exquisite - congrats, lady! As a proud military wife to an over-achieving Marine, she has made Luke's Wings her platform and cause of choice. She is joined by Sieva Floyd (Miss DC Exquisite), Kirin Kennedy (Miss Mid-Atlantic Exquisite), LaToya Grant (Ms. DC Exquisite), and Amina Gilyard (Miss Exquisite International).

Over the past month, the DC and Mid-Atlantic Queens have made major strides in promoting their platforms and preparing for the grand finale: the Exquisite International Pageant, which will be held August 3 in Baltimore. These vibrant, gorgeous go-getters serve as daily reminders of what woman can achieve with passion, heart and intellect.  

Check out how your Queens have been rocking the District!

Miss District of Columbia Exquisite: Sieva Floyd

Sieva has a passion for leadership development to build young women ages 18-25 into future leaders the DMV. She’s been busy creating partnerships with two groups committed to empowering women and girls in the DC Metro area: Bond INC and Divine Gems (where she is a current board member). Sieva will use her crown to forge a lasting connection between women community leaders and young women who have the potential to become the leaders of tomorrow. She also plans to use her skills as a professional makeup artist to provide free makeovers to unemployed women in the DC area who are pursuing job opportunities. 

Miss Mid-Atlantic Exquisite: Kirin Kennedy 

Kirin had the opportunity to attend the local premiere for AfterEarth, which she adored since the movie was a direct connection to her pageant platform: “Our Choice, Our Environment”.  She also bumped into Fox 5 movie critic Kevin McCarthy (pictured with Kirin here). Kirin has attended many events during her first month as Queen, but her favorite was Fusion De Filanthropia & Fashon Show held at Fitness Together Georgetown. This event was co-sponsored by Girls Health Ed., an organization dedicated to helping girls and young women make healthy, informed choices throughout their lives. As a Queen, Kirin is thrilled to be around great fashion while helping raise money for awesome causes!  

Ms. DC Exquisite: LaToya Grant

LaToya is an advocate for the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which holds the African Wellness Fete hosted by the DC Mayor's Office on African Affairs. She shared information with the community regarding the cycles and signs of domestic violence, provided available resources for women and men who are affected by domestic violence, and spoke about ways to overcome abusive situations. Later this year, LaToya plans to host a Violence Against Women Act event in conjunction with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.  This event will be a panel discussion highlighting the issues women face. The panel will feature organizations - both domestic and international - that assist women and men who are victims of violence. 

Mrs. DC Exquisite: Cassandra Bratcher

Cassandra tackled her role as an Ambassador for Luke’s Wings head on by meeting with the Commandant of the Marine Corps wife, Mrs. Bonnie Amos (pictured with Cassandra here), to discuss the vision of the Marine Corps and to find ways to provide better spousal support at Marine Barracks Washington. She had her first public appearance at the 8th and I St. Marine evening parade during Memorial Day weekend to support her husband and our veterans, and to talk with members of Rolling Thunder as well as high ranking officials. Cassandra recently volunteered on behalf of Luke's Wings for the Women Leading the Future conference, hosted by Ladies America. Next up for Cassandra is co-hosting a Completely Yours Event to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation being held this August.

Amina Gilyard, Miss Exquisite International and Angel McCoy

A Crowning Affair would not have been possible without District of Columbia Exquisite Pageants Co-Directors Amina L. Gilyard and Angel M. McCoy. Things have not slowed down for these two since the event either!  Amina has been granted a one-year extension to her ORISE Fellowship at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and will return to school this Fall as a first year doctoral student in GWU’s Human and Organizational Learning program. Angel officially launched McCoy Environmental Group, which specializes in state and federal environmental compliance, environmental education and outreach, and weather consulting services. Angel just returned from a much-deserved two-week European vacation with her husband.

It seems like yesterday that I put on my hot pink heels and trudged through the early morning to help set up the very first Women Leading the Future conference, held at the Navy Memorial Center in Penn Quarter in 2011. I carried in trays of Costco croissants that others drove over (YAY Cassandra and Marlene!), ran around looking for light dimmers, and bonded with some incredible women. What we lacked in conference experience, we made up for with smarts, bright smiles, and brutal determination. We were blessed to have the support and involvement of the UN Foundation, the marvelous Joan Amble, and so many others. It was an exciting day, full of learning, connections, and potential.

And that potential really blossomed. One conference co-chair from that first year went on to launch a high-flying career with an international consultancy (YAY Kimberly!), and the other built directly on that conference experience and launched her own conference organizing company (YAY Julie, and thank you for all your hard work this year!). And the conference itself is now in its THIRD year. While I'd like to think that by now we know what we're doing, I also hope that we never lose that "learner's edge" that was so powerful that first year: that openness to outside input, that realization that we can always do better. and that grit and determination to master anything thrown our way.

I know those traits will be in the air for us to absorb at the 2013 Women Leading the Future conference, to be held this Saturday (June 15), at the Microsoft corporate space above the Friendship Heights metro station. Our opening keynote will be given by the dynamic Sam Horn ("the premiere expert on the art and business of intrigue"), there will be a panel on 'Nutrition & Exercise Needs for Greater Professional Success," another panel on Salary Negotiation, more dynamic speakers, and a BRAG-SESSION. New this year, participants will be selected by lottery to share for one minute (yes, you will be timed) something they accomplished, are working towards, anything…. Did you write a book? Learn something at the conference last year that you want to share? Did you start a new job, get a new degree, make a new friend? Tell us!! Sharing your progress is part of the learning process -- both for the sharers, and for those listening. And as usual, we'll close out with a reception. (You won't see me at many events that don't put a glass of wine in my hand at some point.)

None of this would have happened without the vision, determination, and dynamism of our founder and fearless leader, Lindsey Mask. She is seemingly everywhere, knows almost everyone, and at 3am is always sending emails. To paraphrase the great historian Charles Beard, she is a perpetual student so that she can be a perpetual expert. 

So if you haven't already, register for Saturday's conference, and come prepared to learn -- and to be encouraged. Oh, and I should warn you: a member of our Communications Committee might grab you for a quote, insight, or flipcam interview. The Ladies DC Mentorship Committee will be dying to tell you about their no-longer Top Secret project, the Events Committee will be everywhere, and our Membership and Partnerships Directors can answer your questions about volunteer activities. 

And gentlemen (yes, I italicized that): you are our colleagues, sometimes our competitors, and always our friends. You are always welcome to join us to network, exchange stories from the trenches, and share your insights and knowledge. 

See you Saturday!

To register for the Conference, visit: http://www.womenleadingthefuture.org

  • Jean Schindler is approaching her one-year anniversary as Director of Ladies DC. In her day job, she works in communications for an international, civil society-focused grant maker. If you see her at the Conference, introduce yourself!