Mindfulness the Key to Finding Female Speakers

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It’s late in another summer, and another thought “leader” has said that the blame for the lack of female speakers (or success) should be laid squarely on the shoulders of women. While there have been several great direct responses to this latest link frenzy, I felt that instead of participating directly (like I did last summer), the best commentary I could make is to outline how as a conference organizer I successfully garnered approximately 50% female speaker rates for all three BlogPotomacs.

First, I co-organized the first BlogPotomac with Debbie Weil, and together we set the precedence for the event series. We mindfully decided that at least three of the seven speakers will be women. This seemed like the right thing to do, especially considering that there are more women in communications than men. We wanted to represent our stakeholders with a group of speakers that at least came close to matching our audience.

Each of the three BlogPotomacs had predetermined topic areas, and speakers were matched to the topics. In almost every instance there were natural choices that made sense. A couple of times the would-be speaker was not available. So we found someone else! In one case, I held the spot for two months until my networking yielded the speaker.

But I didn’t give up. And when men asked for speaking spots (women rarely solicited a speaking spot, in fact I cannot remember one), I said no. I did not want the loudest chest beater. I wanted quality lady speakers, was committed to achieving that result, and would not be distracted.

We had some fantastic lady speakers including KD Paine, Maggie Fox, Kami Huyse, Shireen Mitchell, Liz Strauss, Amber Naslund, Jen McClure (emcee), Beth Kanter, Natalia Luckyanova, Jane Quigley, and Shonali Burke (emcee). Two of them are so great, they are now my business partners.

So, the morale of this story is as a conference organizer, it’s a conscious decision to either have women or not. As I told my friend Allyson Kapin, “If you spend time in a homogeneous social network like Silicon Valley’s VC community, then you will only get white, male venture backed candidates. It’s your job to go beyond the comfort zone. Victimization may be an easy out, but it won’t stop the criticism of your inability to break out of limited social circles.”

BTW, if you would like to hear some outstanding lady speakers sign up for some of the WomenWhoTech Telesummit on September 15. I’ll happen to be one of the few men participating, a refreshing change.

It’s Time to Reboot NonProfit 2.0

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After one hell of a blizzard and four months, Allyson Kapin, Shireen Mitchell and I are ready to finally host the first ever NonProfit 2.0 Unconference. This sold out Friday June 25th event will be held at SEIU in downtown DC. What better way to kick off the first Friday of summer then with fun wonky chats about change for our society with the people trying to improve it.

Beth Kanter (@kanter) and Allison Fine (@afine)

The event has already attracted some high caliber talent. Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, authors of The Networked Nonprofit (one of the bestselling books in America yesterday), will offer our first keynote. Our second keynote is The American Red Cross’s social media lead Wendy Harman.

The format melds the best of the BlogPotomac speaker and true Camp Unconference formats. Specifically, NonProfit 2.0 delivers the best of both worlds, offering great keynote sessions, but in an unconference way with no PowerPoint, 15 minute leads, and open questions and dialogue for fantastic conversations. Then from midmorning forward, NonProfit 2.0 shifts into a full-on Unconference.

The Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference (on Twitter at nonprofit20) will be DC’s only unconference dedicated to the social cause space. Why? Because this sector is special and unique. Using social media to create networked communities and movements is much different than selling products or services.

From volunteers and political action to cultivating donors and partners, social media for causes represents a mission. Often our communications impact society, benefiting Americans and citizens across the globe. Changing society for the better is a special, unique heart-felt activity. If you don’t have a ticket, join others like you for the social good keynotes on U-Stream via the NextGenWeb site.

Feel the love! See you on Friday.

Details on the NonProfit 2.0 Conference

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Updated November 9, 2009

It’s with great pleasure that I am joining Allyson Kapin and Shireen Mitchell in organizing the first ever NonProfit 2.0 Unconference.  The Friday, February 12 event will be held somewhere in Washington, DC. What better way to kick off Valentine’s Day Weekend then with some love for our society and the people trying to improve it.

The event has already attracted some high caliber talent. Twestival Founder Amanda Rose has agreed to be one of the two keynotes. Damien Basile and Jocelyn Harmon have already committed to attending and pitching unsessions.

The Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference (on Twitter at nonprofit20) will be DC’s only unconference dedicated to the social cause space. Why? Because this sector is special and unique. Using social media to create networked communities and movements is much different than selling products or services.

From volunteers and political action to cultivating donors and partners, social media for causes represents a mission. Often our communications impact society, benefiting Americans and citizens across the globe. Changing society for the better is a special, unique heart-felt activity. Join others like you for this very special unconference committed to doing social good.

The format will meld the best of the BlogPotomac speaker and true Camp Unconference formats. Specifically, NonProfit 2.0 delivers the best of both worlds, offering great keynote sessions, but in an unconference way with no PowerPoint, 15 minute leads, and open questions and dialogue for fantastic conversations. Then from midmorning forward, NonProfit 2.0 shifts into a full-on Unconference.

We are definitely looking for sponsors, too. Sponsorships range from $100 for individuals to $1000 for Rose sponsors. Details are here.

Register today and feel the love!