The 13th Annual A. G. Gaston Conference kicks off on Tuesday, Feb. 14 in the East Meeting Rooms of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex with the focus on women and their professional opportunities, accomplishments and challenges as they ascend corporate and entrepreneurial ladders to success.
According to conference co- founder, Gaynelle Adams- Jackson, owner of Advanced Planning Services, this is the first time the event, named for the iconic Birmingham businessman, has assembled this many powerful and influential women to speak to topics unique to them.
Recent national as well as worldwide demonstrations, spearheaded by women and referred to as women’s marches, speak to the growing influence of women. The business leaders appearing at this conference is evidence of that.
“This is also an opportunity be inclusive, to hear different voices and demonstrate our support for diversity”, Jackson said. “I usually work behind the scenes and often miss the discussions held during the conference, but I’ll be sure I get the chance to hear from this outstanding lineup of female professionals.”
Headlining the group is Janice Mathis, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, an organization founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune. The Council is an affiliated with other national black women’s groups including Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sororities.
Under Mathis’ leadership, NCNW has initiated “Lead, Advocate, and Empower”, a mission designed to enhance opportunities for women and others in areas of health, education, entrepreneurship and values.
Mathis, who formerly served as vice president for Legal Affairs at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition where she spearheaded civil rights and diversity initiatives for the organization started by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who described Mathis as a “brilliant lawyer and social activist”.
Local business leaders will share their experiences and advice throughout the afternoon as two groups of executives and entrepreneurs fill out the afternoon’s program. Panelists will include representatives of large financial institutions, human resources professionals will join accountants, architects and other professionals and business owners.
Brasfield & Gorrie’s Deborah Nelson will facilitate two panels featuring Lajuana Bradford, Leigh Collier and Rosilyn Houston representatives of Regions Bank, Wells Fargo and BBVA Compass respectively. They will be joined by UAB’s Alesia Jones. Afterwards, business owners Darlene Wilson, Annie Allen, Nolanda Hatcher, Monique Henley and Dr. Carol Jefferson Ratcliffe wrap up the afternoon.
That doesn’t complete the day’s conference activity, however. The venue shifts to the historic Carver Theatre and Birmingham’s 4th Avenue Business District as playwright and director Alicia Johnson-Williams’ Make It Happen Performing Ensemble present “A. G. Gaston: The Man, The Mogul and His Mission”, a production featuring young performers depicting the life of the late Birmingham millionaire for whom the Conference is named. A. G. Gaston Conference organizers have opened this event to the public.
The conference runs through Wednesday when it will feature two keynote messages from Ramon Ray and Dennis Kimbro. Both are best-selling authors and Kimbro, back by overwhelming and popular demand, is well known to Birmingham audiences and has always delivered intellectual, thought provoking and motivational messages. Ramon Ray, editor and founder of Smart Hustle Magazine will wrap up the conference with a high energy, massively informative address in his first speaking engagement in Birmingham.