2021 WISE Annual Meeting is a Success!
For a second year, the WISE annual meeting was held virtually. With 300 people registered, the WISE board was eager to reconnect with its members and partners. The new virtual platform used also allowed for networking opportunities prior to the start of the program.
“This year’s WISE annual meeting, although held virtually again this year, was another successful event. [Merryl Tengesdal] was passionate, funny and a true inspiration,” says Sheala Tierney, Catania Oils. “It was a great addition to have the speed networking opportunity at the start of the meeting. I was excited to have the chance to make some new connections!”
This year’s featured speaker Col. Merryl Tengesdal (ret.) captivated listeners with her story and insight. With extensive Airforce command and senior leadership experience, Merryl shared how her experiences as a black woman and a pioneer in the military and aviation shaped her. Among her accolades, she is the first and only African American woman to fly a U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. “As a woman being that trailblazer, … you had to make it work,” states Merryl. “When people are doing the first of something, it’s about how can I navigate these waters and what are the lessons learned so I can make it for the people behind me easier. Someone is going to have to be the first. So why not you?” During her presentation, she also stressed that every experience gives you new tools for your professional toolbelt, no one’s career path is linear and mentoring is incredibly valuable. Merryl imparted an early life lesson she learned from a mentor that she carries with her to this day. “You don’t want to let your perception of what people think about you get in your head and mess with your self worth,” she reflects. “You have to get out of your way about that and let your performance, let your professionalism, shine through.” To cap off her appearance, each annual meeting attendee was given a digital copy of Merryl’s newly released book “Shatter the Sky” courtesy of Daymon and RBI.
Of course, we cannot properly recap the WISE annual meeting without highlighting the recipients of the 2021 Top Women in Storebrands. Each year, WISE and StoreBrands reveal the names of nine outstanding women in the storebrands industry who have been nominated by their peers and selected for their outstanding contributions. This year, a very special Lifetime Achievement Award was given posthumously to Samantha Hein, Whole Foods. Samantha was represented by her family and her peers in a very moving tribute to her career. The full list of the 2021 Top Women in Storebrands winners can be found here.
WISE also announced the introduction of its new DEI Learning Series. Designed with DEI partner ExecuInsight, WISE is launching a series of tools for its partner members to use in bolstering their own DEI initiatives. The first webinar detailing the new programming is being offered on December 7, 2021. Registration is still open at the WISE website. Watch your email for more information on the DEI Learning Series.
"I am thrilled with the event we had this year!” notes Kara Miencier, Paramount Coffee and WISE Annual Meeting Chair. “It was exciting to host our event on a new streaming platform that allowed more opportunities for networking and connection. After almost two years of attending strictly virtual events, I was pleased with how our event still felt fresh.”
Thank you to all of our Annual Meeting sponsors and to everyone who attended. The WISE Board is very excited to roll out new programming in 2022 and to continue to build this incredible network based in advancing diversity and inclusion. Happy Holidays to all!