Women for Progress of Mississippi ‘The Shattered Glass Ceiling’ at Essence Festival of Culture 2022

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Women for Progress of MS panelists (left to right): Sabrina Short, Chief Executive Officer/Founder, Black Tech NOLA; Heather McTeer Toney, Environmental Defense Fund, VP of Community Engagement; Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge/Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish; and Lynnette White Colin, President of NOLA Business Alliance Small Business Growth & Ecosystem.

Women for Progress of Mississippi Radio Network took their show on the road to the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans.

President Willie Jones and a cohort of members from Women for Progress presented a livestream podcast that included  renowned African American women leaders discussing the topic “The Shattered Glass Ceiling.”

The panel moderator for the livestream discussion was Jackson attorney, Regina Quinn, who was introduced by Jones. Dillard University President Dr. Rochelle Ford welcomed Women for Progress and the audience as she offered opening remarks, “We all have gifts to give. We should use our curiosity to learn and grow together and bring our sister up together. We are beautiful, strong leaders.”

The panelists included:

• Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish/City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana

• Lynnette White Colin, NOLA Business Alliance, Sr. VP, Small Business Growth & Ecosystem

• Sabrina Short, Black Tech NOLA Collective/NOLAVATE Black

• Heather McTeer Toney, former mayor of Greenville, MS, and VP of Community Engagement, Environmental Defense Fund

Mayor-President Broome has never lost an election since she started her first political race 12 years ago. She states, “Leadership is my calling to public service. I offered myself up for service and now I get to serve others. Three women sowed a seed into me and a small voice inside me told me that I could do something about the problems in my community. Sow the seed of leadership into others; get connected. 

Broome continued, “I fell in love with the people and culture of Baton Rouge 43 years ago and have been in service to my community for 33 years. When I came into office as mayor I walked into a “Shadow Government” where folks behind the scenes ran the city. You get cut going through the glass ceiling. My career has always stood on the principles of equity and inclusion for everybody in Baton Rouge.” 

Lynette White Colin, a financial and economic development guru, told the audience that she is a recovering banker who was good at customer service, becoming a branch manager in her early twenties. She learned how to help women fix their credit and start businesses. She informed the audience, “When you are not in the room and/or not at the table, you are on the menu. We have got to think bigger; think globally. Entrepreneurship is the way to design your own future. I want to teach women how to leave a legacy of wealth by helping them start and grow their own businesses. My father was a serial entrepreneur. He started several small businesses, and I got the chance to make loans to people who looked like my dad.” 

The technology specialist, Sabrina Short of Black Tech NOLA, said, “My company bridges the path of Blacks into high-paying tech jobs. We teach Black men and women how to navigate white corporate spaces when they get their tech careers started and as they continue their careers in the tech field. We teach Blacks how to create a space for themselves. It’s important to me to teach Black techies how to walk into white spaces with courage and confidence.”

Heather McTeer Toney broke it down right off the bat telling the group, “When you shatter the glass ceiling, you get cut! Just think about getting cut as the first female mayor of Greenville, Mississippi and being only 27 years old. I had to go through a recount right out of the gate of my political journey. Now I’m a recovering politician. After I traded in my political career I was appointed as regional EPA director for the southern region. If you drink it, stand on it, and or breathe it, EPA regulates it. 

“I was raised in an agrarian environment surrounded by land and water in the Mississippi Delta. The way our culture connects is very different. I was raised by people who said you can do anything. Just think I’m grateful to my congressman, Bennie Thompson, who is leading the January 6th Committee and I get to sit here at the Essence Festival on a panel with these great women who are shattering the glass ceiling. We are interconnected as a web of Black people in breaking the glass ceiling, technology, economics, local government, and the environment for the safety of our Black men and women. 

“There are three things we as Black people need to do. #1. Give. I give to every woman I meet that is running for office. I ask for her contact information so I can give to her. #2. Encourage women in leadership roles; appoint other women of color; put each other in positions of policy influence. #3. Take care of yourself/health. Let us have a stress-free movement; get a foot massage.” McTeer Toney concluded by providing the audience with the names of two organizations that can be helpful – The Black Oak Collective and  the High Foundation. 

The panelists participated in a Q & A session with the audience at the end of the panel discussion. 

Panel moderator, Regina Quinn concluded the discussion, imploring everyone to vote. “We have got to change our policy makers because we have critical issues in our country.  We have great women here today.”

Women for Progress asked each woman to connect with at least four other women they don’t know before they leave the space to get and stay connected so they can continue to Shatter the Glass Ceiling!

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Women for Progress of Mississippi ‘The Shattered Glass Ceiling’ at Essence Festival of Culture 2022

By Brinda Fuller Willis
July 10, 2022