Going the Distance in Event Planning | NAWBO
 

Plus, Pivoting With the COVID-19 Crisis

NAWBO-Silicon Valley hosted a Women in Sports conference with panel members, including Olympic Ice Skater Kristi Yamaguchi (second from the right). Photos: NBCBayArea.com

Determination, skill and endurance—they’re all necessities for both athletes and women-owned businesses alike. And like professional sports, great success begins with behind-the-scenes planning or “grit.”

Take, for example, the Women in Sports conference organized earlier this year by NAWBO-Silicon Valley (SV) at the home of the San Jose Sharks professional hockey team. Plans for the event kicked off when the Sharks’ director of events reached out. “They wanted to support a women’s group by providing space at the arena in addition to a hockey game,” says Flor Harris, president of NAWBO-SV. “We were thrilled they chose us.”  

Charged with helping secure speakers, Flor set her sights on Olympic Gold Medalist Ice Skater and “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity Kristi Yamaguchi. She explains, “We asked Kristi to speak at our annual gala last year, but she had prior commitments.” Flor persevered, and after meeting Kristi at a Sharks’ event, she reached out again. This time, she got a “yes” for an honorarium fee. “We didn’t have the money, but our Board of Directors pitched in, we offered Kristi a little less and she accepted!”

NAWBO-SV also scored big by securing three additional panelists free of charge. They included NAWBO-SV member, Fitness Expert and Sports Nutritionist Toni Julian, who markets healthy oatmeal and protein bars; Speaking Coach and Strategist Jill Wesley, who helps professional athletes hone their verbal skills; and renowned Podiatrist and Shoe Designer Dr. Joan Oloff, who creates and designs high fashion orthopedic shoes.

With everything in place, the countdown began. Then, just two weeks before the conference, another panelist confirmed: Olympic Gold Medalist and Women’s World Cup Champion Brandi Chastain. But she also came with an honorarium fee.

NAWBO-SV jumped into action to raise funds by creating a bronze, silver and gold sponsorship package. They offered incentives for large donations, such as free tickets to NAWBO-SV’s Annual Crystal Chair Awards gala and an opportunity for businesses to pitch at the event.

Big hitters stepped up, including Monika Miles, two-time past president of NAWBO-SV and president of Miles Consulting, and Cathy Smith, NAWBO member and president/owner of ELREPCO.

In less than two weeks, the Board secured a dozen sponsors and in-kind donations and raised over $6,000—surpassing their goal two times over.

At last, on February 10, 140 guests were treated to an inspiring evening at the “Women in Sports: Changing the Game” conference.

Brandi brought the same energy to the stage that she displays on the soccer field. “I believe in grit and determination,” she shared. “We must have courage and strength, and be determined to help future generations to succeed!”

Kristi underscored Brandi’s notion to inspire youth. They said parents often focus solely on one sport for their child, in hopes of a scholarship—something that is offered to only 1 percent of high school athletes. Better, they advised, to let children explore various activities to discover their passion and avoid burnout.

Panelists also stressed the importance of enjoying the journey and absorbing the lessons, even in the unknowing. The evening concluded with raffle prize giveaways that included signed books and sports memorabilia.

“The planning, organizing and execution of this event was a concerted effort among our Board of Directors and members who worked as a team to rally attendance, donations and speakers, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them,” says Flor. “It put us in the spotlight, and gives us an opportunity to leverage the event to grow our membership.”

Weathering the COVID-19 Crisis

NAWBO-SV was grateful the Women in Sports conference occurred just prior to the challenges we now face due to COVID-19. Flor says they are now pivoting to help one another weather the current storm. 

“We had an informal Zoom meeting on April 9 called Thirsty Thursday to get a pulse on how our members are doing,” she says. “We want to see how everyone is handling this crisis and provide tips and guidance to anyone who needs it.”

On April 21, Digital Marketing, a NAWBO-SV corporate partner, will host a webinar to teach businesses how to best utilize video and live streaming in our changing landscape. The webinar is open to members and guests for a nominal fee at www.nawbo-sv.org/events. NAWBO-SV is also planning to have its May 19 presenter convert to a webinar format.

“In the past, we never relied on virtual programs, so this is a first for us,” shares Flor. “It may be the way of the future, at least for a while.”