When is it appropriate to take risks? How do you overcome barriers? And, as a leader, how do you find balance?
Those were among questions directed to a panel of high profile black women at a Congressional Black Caucus on Women and Girls forum Saturday at the Flossmoor Community House. The event, presented by Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, a caucus co-chair, said the goal was to help other African-American women achieve success. The panel included leaders in health, education and business.
The caucus is the first and only one of 430 registered congressional caucuses and member organizations, devoted to making issues facing black women and girls a priority shaping public policy. It was formed by Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J.; Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y. and Kelly. Coleman and Clarke also serve as co-chairs. The caucus has presented 14 events across the country dealing with a variety of topics, including gender diversity in STEM, mental health, maternal mortality and missing black women and girls. Kelly said she expects the caucus to release a report within the next year.
The event Saturday was the first caucus event hosted by Kelly in the south suburbs. Her office has hosted several smaller forums and two symposiums in Chicago, including one focusing on health care challenges and global economic power of black women. It also dealt with discrimination and stereotypes black women face in media.
In Flossmoor, some stories centered on overcoming adversity.
Britney Robbins, founder and CEO of The Gray Matter Experience, a Chicago-based nonprofit that teaches black high school students about entrepreneurship, shared a story of a barrier she faced while working at another organization, where she thought she had a great mentor.
“I had a boss that immediately recognized my talent and potential, and I think initially he wanted to foster that,” she said. “He put me in positions to learn and grow very quickly.”
But things changed.