Empowerment Is Focus of Women's Issues Conference

(Monday, September 18, 2006 11:02 AM EDT)
Women who enjoy the “damsels in distress” role would have felt out of place at U.S. Rep. Jim Moran's 15th annual Women's Issues Conference.

“You are your own knights in shining armor,” the conference's keynote speaker, Sheila Johnson-Newman, told audience members at the annual event, held Sept. 16 at Kenmore Middle School.

“Only we determine when we stop being victims, and when we become victors,” Johnson-Newman.

Women's empowerment was the resonating theme for the day's events, and Johnson-Newman's presence was fitting. As the owner of the Washington Mystics, part-owner the Washington Capitals and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, among many other business ventures and philanthropic efforts, Johnson-Newman has followed her own advice and set an example.

Using her life experiences and accomplishments as examples, Johnson-Newman encouraged women to empower themselves, so they could help other women do the same.

“Freedom starts with the self,” she said. “Education, knowledge and being proactive build our armor.”

She called on the audience to work together, and to make tough but necessary choices to ensure better and freer lives for women around the world.

“I made some hard and conscious choices. I chose to work hard, to surround myself with people better than I am. I sought out a mentor, I chose to read, I chose to take calculated risks. I chose to play by the rules, but always question authority. I chose success over all the other choices,” she said.

Particular issues Johnson-Newman wanted audience members to consider included women's education and job opportunities in the Third World, and the growing number women infected with HIV all over the globe.

Moran, D-8th, introduced Johnson-Newman, and presented his own list of five issues that affect women: Iraq, the deficit, education, health care and women in the Third World. He praised Johnson-Newman for her accomplishments.

Johnson-Newman, who has business interests and a home in the Middleburg area, recently became a part-time Arlingtonian when she married Circuit Court Judge William Newman Jr. The couple splits its time between Arlington and Virginia's Hunt Country.

Following Johnson-Newman's speech, participants at the conference had various seminars to attend, ranging from “What Every Woman Needs to Know When it Comes to Financial Planning” to “Self-Defense Techniques: Basics That Every Woman Should Know” to “Car Care Basics.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran with keynote speaker Sheila Johnson-Newman at the Women’s Issues Conference.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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