SUMMARIES > PARTICIPANT DISCUSSION: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
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YVONNE GREEN, MSN
Director, Office of Womens Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
JAI LEE WONG
Senior Program Officer, The California Endowment, Woodland Hills, CA
During the conference, attendees made many new friends and shared difficult and sometimes humorous experiences. They found that they were no longer alone with some of the loneliest experiences of their educations and careers. The conference had been a place to network and to learn, and a support group as well.
"Being here has been energizing because this does reflect our values and our culture, and the relationships that we built in these brief 48 hours have been ones that have given me the strength to be sustained for a while," said Michelle Leverett. "Obviously that's going to run out, too... So I just wanted to add my... affirmation to the others who say that we need to continue this."
"We need, as a community of women leaders, a place to renew our spirits and refresh our souls," said another audience member. "...it's lonely out there on the West Coast."
To provide at least some of the benefits over the course of the year, she suggested establishing a listserve, a suggestion that was echoed by several others.
One audience member said that others needed to benefit from such gatherings even if it meant that some of this year's participants might be left out due to constraints of funding. "...although I want to see everyone every year, I want other people to have the opportunity," said Ms. Procello.
But sharing the benefits of the gathering could begin immediately, said Kimberly Wyche-Etheridge. "I think that we... all need to go home and sit down with someone who is younger than us or below us in our career... and do the same thing," she said.
Some women said that they had figured out what to jettison from their oft-overburdened lives. "One of the things that I'm not going to do is to think that everything depends on me," said Sheila Norris. "I have a problem with that. I want to be everything to everybody and I never want to leave the office without having everything on my list done... it seems I'm burning myself out... I think I could be better at prioritizing."
Harvard Medical School's Dr. Reede advised keeping one's eye on the big picture of the women's goals for public health in order to transcend the feeling of fear that so often plagues professionals. "You talk about feeling the fear," she said. "I think all of us have that. One of the ways you get beyond that is you understand that what you're doing is not about you. You're putting a cause, a purpose, a mission, something ahead of yourself."