DFS Phoenix Success Ambassador, Monique Harris, Talks Trailblazing and Speaking Your Truth at the 2017 Success Summit

My mentor and the Director of Dress for Success Phoenix, Mary Crawford, is an Oprah Winfrey fan, and while Ms. Mary has inspired and supported me on my journey, she was also the one that peaked my interest to start reading the “O” magazine. Oprah Winfrey has a section in her magazine entitled What I Know for Sure… When I read these words, they sound so unambiguous and confident.  After attending the 2017 Success Summit, I can declare the same mighty statement that what I know for sure is that passion, will-power, and excitement is contagious.

The kaleidoscope of love and truth was evident at every event beginning with the networking hour where we danced and played games. The carnival themed poolapalooza event solidified that this conference would be like nothing I have ever attended. I could feel the power and inspiration radiating in each session. It was remarkable that even among strangers how we quickly became sisters on a mission. Our desire to learn more, to grow, and to give back became the theme of our conversations. We shared our truth and our wisdom with each other such as DeNeice Brewster (Boston Delegate) encouraging quote: “My past is my past and my future is spotless”.

The speakers at the event were phenomenal. Each one of them delivered passionate messages including Paulette Bazerman who taught us about branding and that when you are great they will remember your name. Linda Clemons taught us that when you speak to speak with passion and move with purpose and that low vocal tones show strength. Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale taught us to speak our truth and write in our own voice. She reminded us that putting your truth on paper allows room inside of you to accept the good. It was quite a surprise to have Holly Robinson Peete as our guest speaker on Sunday morning. She was inspirational as she spoke of her mission to educate others regarding autism. She is living proof that you can be a powerful woman, mother, wife, and still have an impact on your community.

As the weekend progressed, I understood that we were evolving into Pow“H”er Influencers.  I had an “ah ha” moment while having a conversation with my roommate De’Orsie Kenyatta when I realize that the attendees were really ambassadors for Dress for Success. By the end of the conference, we possessed the tools to act as the official envoys appointed to serve our communities. Recently, one of my fellow Phoenix PWG members and friend, Catalina DeLaRocha, stated that we are the success stories.  While so many women are still striving and seeking success, we have achieved success and we are on our way to manifesting even greater success in the future.

Many Success Summit attendees may have remembered that I spoke up to recognize my friend, Frances Morano, as a Pow“H”er Influencer. It is women like Frances that leads us to realize the greatest gift you can give a woman, who is lost in her life journey and seeking her life purpose, is the gift of hope. Every woman that attended the 2017 Success Summit is tasked with sharing that hope through a community action project. We are torchbearers to obliterate poverty among women and children. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines torchbearer as “someone in the forefront of a campaign, crusade, or movement” (2017).  Undeniably, we are torchbearers. As Joi Gordon, the CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide, so eloquently described women that shaped the world such as Florence Nightingale, Julia Gillard, Susan B. Anthony, Kate Sheppard, and Rosa Parks, we, my beautiful sisters, possess the same tenacity as these amazing women. Indeed, we are torchbearers.

After attending the conference, I can now understand why my Phoenix predecessor delegates such as Leticia Rios, Lizz Pulido, Maria Cadena, and Sandy Orosca would say that I would have to attend the conference to understand the true impact. They could never put it into words.  From the moment I walked into the lobby of the beautiful Camby Hotel, I was greeted by Dress for Success’ members and staff. They hugged me and gave me information. I immediately connected with Nancy Schrantz (Cincinnati Delegate) and we walked around the hotel and toured the fine décor of the hotel including the rooftop pool. While the association was remarkable, I could not leave out an unexpected gift received by way of the fine cuisine including the filet of beef with potato gratin, grilled asparagus, and bordelaise sauce served at Saturday’s night dinner courtesy of the amazing Camby Hotel’s chefs. I parted Sunday afternoon, with so many gifts from sponsors including a Coach purse, ring, and bracelet along with a Pandora necklace and so many more gifts that I felt like I had been on a shopping spree.

For those reading this that have never attended a Dress for Success conference before, please believe me when I tell you, words do not exist that can truly describe how you will feel at this event.  However, what I can tell you is that the ambiance of truth and the atmosphere of sisterhood will leave a lasting impression. I have met and continue to connect with many of the attendees including Angie Westwick (Sioux Falls Delegate), A’Bonni Anthony (Triangle Delegate), Donna Makapela (Columbus Delegate), and Kara Burns (Team Grand Prize Winner from Denver).  It is an amazing feeling to be supported by such an extraordinary group of women. Lastly, what I know for sure is that this event will rejuvenate your spirit, foster altruism, and transform your life forever!

Your sister and fellow torchbearer,

Monique Harris
Dress for Success Phoenix

* The 2017 Success Summit would not have been possible without the generosity of our partners: FedEx, Talbots, Walmart, Pandora Jewelry, QBE, Rona Jaffe, Southwest Airlines and Robert Half.


Torchbearer. (2017). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torchbearer

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