Meeting for the 2020 annual InfoComm® AVIXA® Women’s Council Breakfast on a virtual platform may have been a first for many of us, but all members in attendance could unanimously agree on how particularly significant the event was for us this year. This indispensable virtual breakfast as well as all AVIXA Women’s Council (AWC) events around the world would not be possible without the support from our sponsors.
Council member and spokesperson for global sponsor AVI-SPL, Ericka Shumpert, reflected on the necessity of the breakfast and council, expressing that “right now community is more crucial than ever.” Althea Ricketts of Shure, also a member of the AWC, reminded us how proud Shure is to be a global sponsor and to continue supporting women in AV. Althea believes in the importance of the AWC mentoring program, as she has seen first-hand how CEO of Shure and last year’s AWC InfoComm Breakfast keynote speaker Christine Schyvinck directly benefited from a mentor relationship with Rose Shure, former Chairman of Shure Inc. She leaves us with the inspiring question “who is your mentor? Do you have a strong female role model? If you can’t find one, be one.”
Next, we heard from our title sponsors, Kramer, represented by Lauren Brodt and Jamie Best. Jaime, Director of Marketing at Kramer, thanked women for being so involved in the AV industry, “Women not only have been a key element to Kramer’s success, but to the AV industry as a whole. All of our thanks go to the AWC members who are dedicated to empowering and supporting women.” The principle of inclusion does not hit too far from home for our premier sponsor, Listen Technologies, which was founded on the basis of inclusion in the hearing loss community. Elizabeth Colins of premier sponsor Mediasite is not just proud to be a sponsor this year, but for also recording and streaming this year’s event that will be available on demand through August 21. Eighteen years ago, at Elizabeth’s first InfoComm, a Women’s Council would have sounded like a dream, but she feels “to see so many women enter the industry and changing how the industry works is very exciting.” We then heard from local leaders from around the world, reminding us why they volunteer and the importance of our 40 active local groups.
AWC Council Chair Brandy Alvarado addressed the over 400 members in attendance; “although we cannot be together in person, I love that we can maintain the same reach virtually.” For this year’s breakfast, Brandy highlighted the value we have added to the industry as a council. She shared with us testimonials that spoke to the success of the council, demonstrations of women who felt empowered by the council to become the first women in management at their respective companies, examples of the impact of the AWC career empowerment committee, and instances of large AV companies approaching the council with career opportunities as they seek to hire more women in executive roles. Brandy expressed “That’s what our council is all about; celebrating our successes, empowering women, and furthering our professional growth.” She stressed the important role that the 80+ local leaders hold in that it takes a village to raise a vision.’”
Brandy introduced us to the keynote speaker, Sara Potecha, author of West Point Woman, one of the first women to graduate from West Point. The weekend before the breakfast, West Point celebrated 40 years of women graduating from the academy. Suitably, her presentation was” leading through crisis with character, competence, and composure.” She started us off with a working title for crisis: “an intense time of difficulty, danger, and risk leading to a turning point requiring good judgement to seize an opportunity. She believes, that “all leaders should anticipate crisis, they are pretty common.” Sara confided with the council that she learned a lot about crisis while at West Point, and shares an anecdote of a time when she found herself in crisis during a West Point drill and was able to adapt and work through it. She realized at this time that you “figure things out as you fail, you learn what is not working and you are only getting closer to success.”
Sara continued with invaluable pieces of knowledge and guidance for navigating such turbulent times and believes in an insightful quote by American Author John C. Maxwell, “you are not made in crisis, you’re revealed.” In the end, Sara reminded us that in times of uncertainty, we are only learning when we are listening, and that to never give up hope because humans are more resilient than we know.
As you would assume, the chat box for the virtual event was flying off the page with expressions of gratitude and awe at how inspirational, motivational, and timely Sara’s presentation was to us as a council. Answering Althea’s opening question regarding mentors, I think we all gained a role model that morning.
The AVIXA Women's Council's mission is to provide a global community of AVIXA members and other professionals committed to supporting and empowering women who work in the technology and AV industry. For those interested in attending a local event or starting their own local group, visit www.avixa.org/womenscouncil. There are also opportunities to volunteer on a subcommittee. Contact Brandy Alvarado at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more info on volunteering for the Stem/Steam Subcommittee, or the Safety Committee.