These are our staple, premier storytelling events. We organized the first WIELD in Fall 2017 anticipating it would be an annual thing, but it became so popular we now have a spring and a fall WIELD event! The format includes networking and interactive icebreakers at the bookends of the evening which showcases 4-6 speakers who share their professional journeys (all of which never seem to be linear!). Oh, and there's also an amazing DJ and good food and drink from local small, women-owned businesses. With each story, participants are inspired as leaders impart evident truths, setbacks, advice, and moments of resilience, opportunity, and courage. These events are the ones the WIELD community craves most because they let us know that we aren't alone in our struggles or our triumphs. We may fail at times, but we succeed by lifting up each other.
Although no longer a place to get an illicit drink or intend to remain under the radar, it was the spirit of the speakeasies of the prohibition era that inspired us to host more frequent casual gatherings. Historically, speakeasies would set a price for customers to witness an entertaining attraction and then serve a complimentary alcoholic beverage. These establishments fostered critical cultural shifts; they encouraged integration as places where people of all races could mingle and garnered more participation from women in their businesses as they grew in popularity. In a similar fashion, our version of the speakeasy features one industry-leader (the entertainment), who gives a presentation at their office in DC (the underground network of businesses) and whips up her favorite cocktail (the complimentary alcohol) with attendees.
Just your typical weekday night at the bar, made even better when spent with your WIELD community. The most informal and least intimidating of our events, strike up a conversation with someone new, and who knows, you may just meet your next mentor, collaborator, or friend! Our go-to happy hour spot is Red Bear Brewing Co. in NOMA, but we're always looking for recommendations.
presentations & workshops
More recently, we've also hosted educational events including presentations, panels, and workshops. One example is our Business 101 series to help individuals in our community start their own small, woman or minority-owned enterprise and navigate the technical aspects of running a successful company.
Most recently, we collaborated with DC NOMA and LA.IDEA to produce the first of many forums to create a safe space for transparent dialogues around sensitive issues. These events include informative presentations to frame the conversation, followed by small breakout groups where participants can actively listen, voice their opinions or ideas, and brainstorm. We hope the conversations continue, not only with like-minded committee members, but beyond into our own workplaces and communities. Stay tuned for more open forums to come!