Female leaders from across industries united at the Warner Theatre for a women’s empowerment conference Thursday.
The Together Live conference featured acclaimed storytellers like bestselling authors Glennon Doyle and Luvvie Ajayi and two-time Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach. The speakers inspired the audience to find their greater purpose, build communities for success and take action through their storytelling and conversations.
Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, the head of the worldwide books department at WME Entertainment, launched the Together Live conference last year. After touring with Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg on their book tours, Walsh said she wanted to create an opportunity for women of diverse backgrounds to unite around storytelling.
Walsh then started these events around the country and sold tickets for $25 each.
“We realized that if we wanted a totally inclusive, intersectional experience at Together we need to eliminate the two biggest barriers: time and money,” Walsh said.
If you missed the D.C. event, there are four stops left on the nationwide tour in places like Chicago and Philadelphia this month. But if you can’t take a trip for an upcoming event, here are a few takeaways from Thursday night:
1. Finding your purpose
A common theme reiterated by speakers throughout the evening was purpose. The diverse group of women on stage shared stories of their darkest moments – though each instance of failure, heartbreak and disappointment led to opportunities that positively impacted their lives and helped them find their purpose.
A crucial aspect of their successes relied on the support of strong women in their lives, which is the community Walsh said she wants to build for others.
“We wanted to remind people that there’s a lot more that ties us together than divides us,” Walsh said. “Now more than ever, given the difficulties of our times, we want to have the opportunity to get together and grow together.”
2. Staying true to yourself
Abby Wambach, a retired U.S. women’s soccer player and two-time gold medalist, and Glennon Doyle, Wambach’s wife and a bestselling author, opened the event with their intertwined stories.
Wambach said she struggled with drugs and alcohol as well as accepting her gay identity, while Doyle grappled with a crumbling marriage. After crossing paths during last year’s Together Live tour, the pair found acceptance in each other.
Both women said being at a low point and meeting someone who can remedy that helped them learn to remain true to who they are and not settle for anything less.
“Every girl must decide to be true to herself or true to the world,” Doyle said. “Every girl must decide to either settle for adoration or fight for love.”
3. Facing discrimination
In addition to exploring self discovery, Together Live covered important issues like women’s inequality, racism, sexual assault and discrimination. Actor, comedian and disability advocate Maysoon Zayid joined the group onstage to discuss the challenges she overcame as a woman with cerebral palsy.
“My mission is to integrate children with disabilities into the school system worldwide,” Zayid said. “But I never thought I would have to fight for that right in America. I’m afraid we’re stepping into a time where we might have to fight for those rights for disabled children.”
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder of an online magazine for Muslim women called Muslim Girl, discussed the discrimination she faced as an Arab-Muslim American child following 9/11. Despite facing pressure to suppress her identity, Al-Khatahtbeh embraced her culture to address Islamophobia and women’s rights.
“All women talk back. Muslim Girl isn’t a voice for the voiceless, some women are just more systemically silent than others,” she said. “So, we need to use our resources and privileges to address the issues they’re facing.”