Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief of ESSENCE, was one of several high-profile guest speakers at an inspirational women’s symposium in Atlanta over the weekend.
Now in its second year, the 2015 Women 2 Women Conference (W2W) brought multi-generations of distinguished speakers together under the same roof to inspire, empower, and enlighten attendees to live more fulfilling lives.
Veteran journalist and author, Ms. Taylor, shared personal anecdotes and fascinating insights into her unconventional journey to the top: from joining ESSENCE without a college degree to becoming one of the most influential women in publishing.
Testament to her unflappable spirit, during the 1980s, Taylor attended night school and earned a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University. After nearly 40 years at ESSENCE, in 2005 she founded the National CARES Mentoring Movement, dedicated to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty among African-Americans.
“The village is on fire, and what we see on the nightly news, and read about its bad behavior, is our children’s cry for help,” said Taylor during her impassioned keynote address. “It’s our responsibility, able, stable black folk, to reach out.”
“Mentoring is all about caring,” she adds. “Caring enough to commit just one hour a week to guide a vulnerable person.”
A diverse roster of speakers, from of all ages and walks of life, also took to the podium to share on topics ranging from spirituality, career progression, health & wellness, and giving back to the community.
Producer/actress Lynn Whitfield; clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry L. Blake; Microsoft Principal Strategy Architect Trice Johnson; and playwright and best-selling author Pearl Cleage; were just some of the hand-picked speakers.
Alongside the more public sessions, this year’s conference also featured Wisdom Circles that provided an intimate and safe gathering space for women to come together to share their life stories on issues such as finance, self-love, and juggling work with motherhood.
“We are bringing the young and seasoned together to learn from each other,” said Sonjia Young, a dedicated mentor, educational counselor and accomplished businesswoman, who spearheaded the W2W event held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. “When we connect and share with each other we learn and share more.”
“This conference is very spiritual,” she adds. “What it does is try to get you to look into your own personal, intuitive self. If you don’t do that you can’t have the confidence to go out into the world of work and know that you can achieve, and you can accomplish certain things.”
“A lot of women have passion and ideas. Then they’ll say, when I finish raising my babies, after I get married, before they deal with what they really have. You’ve to have faith and step out your comfort zone.”
Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector, a network advocating STEM education, was also an honoree at the W2W conference. She spoke to UrbanGeekz ahead of Saturday’s conference.
“We cover the whole pipeline,” she said. “Our goal is to get America to recognize what the hot jobs are, with 5 million jobs open in STEM careers.”
“That technology is leading the way, with the skills in technology and computer science, driving 73 percent of all jobs,” she adds. “And that the diversity of the new America is what we’ve got to propel into the student pipeline, up the system, into the career pathway for successful careers.”
Proceeds from the conference benefits teenagers at the Dr. Maya Angelou Teen Center located at the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA in Atlanta, Georgia.
MAIN PHOTO: ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 14: Author/journalist Susan L. Taylor speaks onstage at the 2015 Women 2 Women Conference at Marriott Marquis Hotel on March 14, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia (photo credit: to Susan Ross)
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