Imagine Sally Field, Darlene Love, and Arianna Huffington– all in the same place at the same time!!! That was the scene at the 36th Annual Simmons Leadership Conference this year, which was my honor to emcee! 3300 women at the Seaport World Trade Center plus a global online audience spent all day Thursday April 2 being inspired and informed by some of the most dynamic women leaders/pundits/movers and shakers in the world.
Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer DARLENE LOVE, highlighted in the Oscar-winning doc “20 Feet From Stardom,” and the mother of all back up singers to the likes of Elvis, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen, belted out some Gospel at the end of her rousing presentation!
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON dazzled us with data (and her deadpan delivery) as she detailed the data on the need for napping “sleep” being one of the pillars necessary to THRIVE– the title of her 14th book!
And then there was the powerfully winning SALLY FIELD in the closing keynote presentation of the day–a conversation with me in front of 3500 in the main hall. She described the astounding trajectory of her career from TV’s “Gidget” and “The Flying Nun,” through two Best Actress Oscars (1979’s “Norma Rae” and 1984’s “Places In The Heart”) to having to audition and convince Steven Spielberg that she was THE actress for the role which would eventually earn her the most recent Oscar nomination in 2012 as Mary Todd Lincoln opposite Daniel Day Lewis in LINCOLN.
Sally talked candidly about overcoming a difficult childhood, the professional hurdles, the sexism and stereotyping, studying with Lee Strasberg, the way she crafts a character, always working through her intense fear but somehow retaining fresh access to her emotions. She spoke of her real life activism on behalf of women around the world through VITAL VOICES, and her advocacy for gay rights brought home by proudly parenting her openly gay youngest son. Her moving journey as an artist/activist in which she continues to “dare to compete” — the theme of this year’s conference– had Sally and all of us in tears and on our feet cheering at the end of an incredibly inspiring day. Here’s a link to a great article recapping some of the highlights of Sally’s talk in PEOPLE !
Can’t wait for next year’s conference already scheduled for March 29, 2016!