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Keynote+speaker+Chandra+Brooks+addresses+audience+at+Evergreen+Community+College%27s+Strong+Women+Leadership+Conference%2C+Saturday+March+18.+
Keynote speaker Chandra Brooks addresses audience at Evergreen Community College's Strong Women Leadership Conference, Saturday March 18.

Keynote speaker Chandra Brooks addresses audience at Evergreen Community College's Strong Women Leadership Conference, Saturday March 18.

Jordan Elliott

Jordan Elliott

Keynote speaker Chandra Brooks addresses audience at Evergreen Community College's Strong Women Leadership Conference, Saturday March 18.

Jordan Elliott, Times Staff

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The Evergreen Valley College Strong Women Leadership Conference was held by The American Association of University Women at the EVC campus Saturday March 18 from 8:45 a.m.-2 p.m.

Guest speakers, a variety of ten different classes and a discussion panel were provided for student and guests to learn about effective female leadership and empowerment. The event also encompassed discussions about mental and physical health, LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights in the workplace.

“Get active, do something. We need more women at the decision making table,” said keynote speaker Chandra Brooks.

Brooks spoke during the opening of the event with a story about overcoming teen pregnancy, her career success despite facing adversity and introduced her three pieces of advice for the audience: ‘Success is disguised as hard work… be fearless… be your authentic self.’ She also added a fourth rule: ‘Get active,’ to the list, because she ‘doesn’t follow the rules.’

“These events are by women, for women,” AAUW’s new president elect Sharon Bouska said. “This is really advocacy for women.”

“I see the future of San Jose here, the future of California and more importantly the salvation of America,” vice mayor of San Jose Magdalena Carrasco said.

There were 320 registered guests and walk-ins that attended. English professor at EVC Yvette Abelow was ‘happily surprised by the turnout today,’ and hoped that this event would continue to occur every year.

“I think we’re seeing such a wonderful turnout since our administration is showing that women aren’t important to them,” said Brooks.

EVC president Henry Yong told the audience a story about his mother immigrating to the U.S. and how she inspired his support of female leaders.

“I know that you could have found other things to do this morning rather than coming to Evergreen Valley College for this conference, but your presence is very much appreciated because we still have work to do,” said Yong.

“Usually when women do things, we do them really well,” said Chandra Brooks.

Attendees were each able to take two of the offered classes before a panel of four guest speakers ended the event with a discussion about leadership and individual struggles.
“We’re here to inspire and motivate you,” said conference committee member Marjorie Clark, who wore a pink hat like supporters of the Women’s March promoted.

One of the classes available called ‘When Women Lead, Women Win!’ was led by Brooks. Other options for classes were about self-defense, yoga for students to focus and de-stress, healthy meals, body positivity, campus sexual assault, consent for healthy relationships and financing college.

“We (women) need to be powerful, but we also need to be humble because you know what they call us when we’re a little too powerful,” said Brooks before several audience members replied with “bitch.”

“First lesson of leadership as a woman: Lift other voices, open doors,” said Brooks. “

Brooks also asked the audience “What does a leader look like to you?” and collectively the room discussed words such as inspirational, compassionate, humble, powerful and effective.

“I don’t want to downplay men, because there are some great male leaders,” said Brooks. “But we (women) think with our hearts.”

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