Women of Achievement Lunch

Some Zoom’s are better than others and today’s Women of Achievement lunch zoom was almost better than the in person event. Every year for many, many years, Chapel Hill, Durham and Chatham Magazines have honored women doing great things in our communities. I was lucky enough to be an honoree due to my work for the Food Bank in 2014 and so I get invited to come to the lunch every year. The lunch gets bigger and the honorees are always interesting.

Ellen Shannon

This year the in person lunch, which normally happens in May had to be canceled, and they pivoted to this virtual event, but still gave us lunch. So I drove down to Southpoint Subaru and picked up my yummy fall chicken salad and goody bag from my magazine friends who were set up in a tent in the pouring rain. They made it easy by just making the whole thing drive through.

Once I was home I enjoyed my lunch and joined the Zoom. Ellen Shannon and Rory Gillis, the fearless women leaders ran a great show. We had two inspiring speakers. The first was Alex Zagbayou, the executive director of Student U. I first got to know Alex when she was the number two at Studentt U and I was writing a story on her. She was remarkable then as a twenty something inspiring the youth of Durham to higher Achievement, but it is no surprise that she has gone on to quadruple the impact Student U has in our community. Now she didn’t tell us any of that. She did talk about the need for self care and pacing ourselves during this time of Covid.

Rory Gillis
Alex Zagbayou

Our second speaker Esther Campi, who is a crisis communications expert who advises Health Care companies. She focused us on how to pivot in a crisis, and all of this year can be seen as a Crisis.

One theme both Alex and Esther shared in their talks were that you have to have both your head and your heart involved when you are a leader. These things are true all the time, but the heart is especially critical in 2020.

After their talks we had break out groups and that was the most fun part. We were randomly put into 2 groups and in both of mine I had friends I was happy to get to see. In my first group was one of the honorees of the day I know well, Jessica Bottesch, who along with her business partner Rhonda Williams own Empower Fitness. Congratulations to them as they are making a difference in our community.p, even as they have had to be closed for the last six months.

The part of the Zoom that made the event so fun was the chat function. I was able to have side conversations with friends that was so much easier than passing notes at the real luncheon. I know that getting to hug friends in real life is better, but since we can’t hug now, the chat was a great substitute.

So thanks to Shannon Media for producing a great event and making it feel so special. Congratulations to all the winners this year. You are in a wonderful club of diverse and smart women now. Can’t wait to see you at next year’s lunch.



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