I just spent 3 amazing days in Silicon Valley at our first ever "Alley to the Valley" Summit. The purpose was to connect some of the female movers and shakers from the East Coast with their female counterparts on the West Coast. The Summit was held at the Rosewood Hotel & Spa on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park -- home to Stanford University and many of the heaviest hitters in the VC industry -- a power zip code if there ever was one.
I learned a ton from the women who attended the Summit as I have only a passing knowledge (if that) of the world of private equity and venture capital investing. Some of the luminaries who attended the Summit: Maria Cirino, Co-Founder of .406 Ventures; Stephanie Hanbury-Brown, Founder of Golden Seeds; Christina Brodbeck, part of the founding team at YouTube; Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain; Emily Melton, Mayfield Fund Partner, Kathi Lutton, Global Head of Litigation at Fish & Richardson; Cindy Padnos, founder of Illuminate Ventures; Theresia Ranzetta, Partner at Accel Partners; Amanda Reed, Partner at Palomar Ventures; Barbara Byrne, Vice-Chair of Barclays Capital; Jennifer Sargent, CEO of HitFix; Sue Siegel, Partner at Mohr Davidow; Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia; and Karen White, private equity investor.
Unfortunately, Moira Forbes was grounded from flying due to an ear problem -- she was greatly missed. We are hoping to continue the Summit conversation over the coming months on ForbesWoman.com.
One of the biggest highlights of the Summit for me was hearing Sheryl Sandberg speak - this woman is as bright as she is beautiful - she spoke eloquently on a variety of topics and had the great honor of introducing Somaly Mam, brilliant author and passionate human rights advocate. A moment I will never forget -- when Somaly said that she didn't actually know how old she was. Named one of Time magazine's Top 100 Most Powerful People in 2009, Somaly is a force of nature. On behalf of 85 Broads, I was delighted to give Somaly a check for $15,000 to help her in her global fight to save more girls from sex trafficking.
I am hugely grateful to Deborah Perry Piscione and Linda Law who were my co-collaborators for the Summit. How amazing is this? The three of us had never met before. I think that speaks volumes about women investing in women.
Lastly, here's what Amanda C., a new member of 85 Broads, wrote in her application for membership:
"I read the New York Times every day on my way from my apartment in the West Village to my office in Midtown East. Today, as the E train barreled into 23rd Street Station, I fortuitously stumbled across the business section article, “The Risk-Taking Edge of West Coast Women" by Pamela Ryckman which mentions 85 Broads. I find all things having to do with the professional advancement of women to be inherently fascinating and motivating. I read every last word of that article, and immediately began my application to your organization when I sat down at my desk. (OK, I admit that I got a large black coffee first...)
I am a first year associate at a major New York law firm and, much to the shock of many people I talk to, I’m loving it. I cannot wait to advance here and elsewhere professionally and my ambitions include increasing the number of female partners on law firm executive committees by becoming one myself and then mentoring other women to do the same. I think the law is a great career path for me and for many women. It requires intelligence, hard work, composure and lots of thinking on your feet. But even more importantly I think, it requires connections. This is where women are at a severe disadvantage in my field today. I think that 85 Broads sounds like a wonderful way for me to meet other women, to make connections, and to find mentors and eventually mentees. I would be thrilled and honored if you would allow me to become a member."
What a thrill and honor it is to be the founder & CEO of 85 Broads! :)