Jessica Muroff Shines At Athena Society’s Wit, Wisdom & Women

   More than 130 attendees gathered at The Portico in downtown Tampa on April 18 for the Athena Society’s Wit, Wisdom & Women. Sixteen women delivered Ted Talk-type presentations on subjects ranging from the historical fight for women’s rights to managing ambition to equal pay and cultivating a workplace culture.

The event left the audience engaged, inspired and awed.

   The agenda included our own Jessica Muroff, Athena’s incoming president. The United Way Suncoast CEO spoke to the audience on how to inspire impact and create community change. Drawing from UWS’ work, Jessica shared how data, storytelling and strategic planning have all aided her organization’s effort, including its use of its R.I.S.E. funding.

   She then shared how community members can utilize the United Way Suncoast tenet of “People, Place, Policy and Practice” as a blueprint for community impact.

  • People: Who are you working with? Who do you need to work with?​ Who is missing from the table?
  • Place: Are you showing up in the right places?​ Are you reaching those who are hard to reach?
  • Policy: Are you advocating, educating and connecting on issues?​ What policy issues are impacting your mission?
  • Practice: Are you collaborating?​ How do you assess change and challenges?​ How are you removing barriers to progress?
Words To Live By

   Jessica’s presentation provided just one dose of inspiration at the Wit, Wisdom and Women event. All of the 16 speakers delivered a-ha moments, salient points and big takeaways. 

   Fentrice Driskell, Florida’s minority house leader, encouraged the group not to grow disillusioned with politics. Tampa International Airport communications vice president Veronica Cintron, recent emcee at UWS’ R.I.S.E. and Shine Breakfast, showcased how communications can help you succeed in the workplace.

   Former State Sen. Arthenia Joyner shared how saying seizing uncertain opportunities propelled her from teen-aged civil rights activist to lawyer to elected official.

   “Let us have the courage to say ‘yes,’ to the unknown,” Joyner said. “For in the act of surrender lies the greatest adventure of all: the journey of self-discovery and boundless growth.”

   Premier Eye Care’s Lorna Taylor spelled out how social entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool for business success. She explained that it doesn’t require sacrificing profit. It actually enhances it.

‘Be Nakedly Honest’

   Brand strategist turned life strategist Bonnie Wan served as the keynote speaker. Touting advice from her latest book, The Life Brief, Bonnie encouraged the audience to navigate life’s decisions, crossroads and curve balls by distilling complexities down to what you want and then making declarations.

   “Start with questions, not answers,” Bonnie said. “Be nakedly honest. The answers we seek lie in the questions we avoid.”

   United Way Suncoast board member and Athena member Candy Olson closed the event with words of encouragement.

   “Sometimes you don’t know where you’re going until you take a moment and look back at where you’ve been,” Candy said. “Maybe then you see a path. So take a moment to think about what you’ve heard here today. I hope as you look back and forward, you’ll think about something the people have said today and use it to help you set your direction.

   “It all takes courage. We’ve all faced challenges and we’ve all met them. We have so many stories to tell, and so many challenges to face. I hope the time you’ve spent here today will help you move forward and think about how you take your steps. What now? I can’t wait to hear your stories.”

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