GLAAACC Chariman Gene Hale and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (Courtesy images)



Entrepreneurs, executives, seasoned businesswomen and startups converged for an evening of empowerment, encouragement, and solidarity at the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce 5th Annual Women in the C-Suite.  “Women affecting change through policy,” was the theme for this year’s conference which took place on Nov. 22 at the Double Tree Hotel in Torrance. 

 This year’s annual women’s conference paid tribute to a living legend in national politics, U.S. Representative for the 43rd congressional district Maxine Waters.   

 GLAAACC intentionally scheduled the conference two weeks before the mid-term elections according to GLAAACC president Angela Gibson-Shaw.  

 “We see what is happening in this country. We know how to fight, we know how to win, we know how to transform, we know how to build power,” Gibson-Shaw said.  “We need to advocate for access to quality jobs, healthcare and education, healthy and safe communities, access to capital and creating generational wealth and a representative and fair democracy.” 

GLAAACC Staff and Panelist (courtesy image)


 Congresswoman Waters received GLAAACC’S Leadership Award for her five decades of public service, three of those on behalf of the 43rd congressional district, which includes a large part of South Los Angeles, and unincorporated areas of south Los Angeles County.  She is considered by many to be one of the most powerful women in American politics.   

 Congresswoman Waters made history as the first woman and first African American Chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee.  She is credited with sponsoring legislation that has brought billions of dollars into under-severed communities of color.  Her extensive congressional work includes memberships on the Steering & Policy Committee and the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chairing the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and chairing the Congressional Black Caucus 

 After GLAAACC Chairman Gene Hale’s presentation of the leadership award to Congresswoman Waters, she talked about her work on recent legislation and encouraged the women to be bold.  


 “Black women are on the move.  They’re on the move politically, they’re on the move on Wall Street and we’re gaining access to the C-Suite.  This has not been easy.  It’s been a long time coming.  But once Black women get started on an issue there is no stopping us,” Congresswoman Waters said.  “Sometimes they will say we are too competitive, that we are too bold, that we are too confrontational.  I welcome all of that.  Do not be afraid and do not be intimidated.” 

 Los Angeles County Supervisor, 2nd District, Holly Mitchell made a virtual appearance to congratulate Congresswoman Waters on receiving GLAAACC’s Leadership Award. Keynote speaker Tunua Thrash Ntu, The Center by Lendistry President and CEO, talked about having a seat at the table during the pandemic. She used her position to ensure that there were several rounds for grant funding and that the application information was available to all businesses and funds were distributed in an equitable manner. She encouraged women to tap into their unique “super power” and use it for good.   

 JKH Consulting and GLAAACC Co-Chair Jamarah Hayner moderated the conference panel discussion on policy, education, housing and employment and why it’s important for Black women to come together and work collectively. 

 Panelist Lily Otieno, Socal Gas Director, Supply Chain & Diverse Business Enterprises, spoke about her immigrant experience and arriving in the U.S. with $200 and one suitcase.  Otieno said opportunities are available for those who are willing to work hard.  “Where you come from does not define you. Today, I am the director of supply chain for SoCal Gas, managing over $2.4 billion in procurement,” she said.  “You have to know what you want; you have to be present, you have to be in the place that you need to be.” 

 Panelist Kellie Todd Griffin, California Black Women’s Collective Executive Leader, outlined the advocacy efforts it took to create a Black woman’s think tank at California State University, Dominquez Hills that specifically focuses on the issues of Black women. 

 “There will be efforts to divide us, but we have to learn how to stand together,” said panelist Jackie Dupont Walker, Ward Economic Development Corporation Founding President talking about defining issues for Black women. “We need to make sure that we’re connected and that an individual’s striving to get to the next level doesn’t overtake that connection.” 

GLAAACC’s 5th Annual Women in the C-Suite was presented by Southern California Edison. USBC, U.S. Small Business Administration, SoCalGas, Valero, Union Bank, Verizon, Golden State Water Company and C.W. Driver sponsored the event.  

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