Apr 6, 2006    #030
Contact: Wandra Brooks Green

UMKC Women’s Center Hosts Inaugural Black Women Leaders Conference

Lawyer, nationally-recognized author, TV host and motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant will welcome attendees at The University of Missouri–Kansas City’s (UMKC) Women’s Center inaugural leadership conference for black women in the Kansas City area, “Opening Minds, Opening Doors.” The two-day conference will take place on Thursday, April 6 at 6:00 p.m. and Friday, April 7, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Co-sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center, the event is funded in part by the SkillBuilders Fund and the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau.

Vanzant will be the keynote speaker on Thursday evening, with an introduction by UMKC’s Chancellor Guy Bailey. Locally- and regionally-prominent black women will address leaders who are at various stages in their leadership – emerging, embracing and established leaders – through workshops on Friday. The keynote speaker on Friday is Melanie Campbell, executive director of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. All conference events will take place at the UMKC University Center, located at 50th and Rockhill Road.

Workshop facilitators include Linda Key, president of Lifting You Higher; Bridgette Williams, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO; Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City; Phyllis Henderson, president of Visions2000, Inc.; Honorable Sharon Sanders Brooks, State Representative (Missouri House of Representative); Honorable Yvonne S. Wilson, State Senator (Missouri State Senate); and Angela Bennett, president of the University of Missouri Board of Curators.

Reservations are required for this event. The deadline for the early bird registration fee of $149 for both Thursday evening and Friday is March 6, 2006. For more information about conference fees and registration, please visit For questions about the conference, please call the Women’s Center at 816-235-1638.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban affairs.

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


Keynote Speakers


Once a teenage welfare mother, an abused and battered wife, Iyanla (pronounced Ee-Yon-La) Vanzant transformed her life and is now a best-selling author, lawyer, and nationally recognized motivational speaker. She is hailed as one of the “most dynamic African-American speakers in the country” by “Emerge” magazine.

Vanzant became a household name to the daytime TV audience as a regular contributor on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” As a nationally renowned speaker, Vanzant has sold out such prestigious venues as New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, Atlanta’s Civic Center and the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. “Newsweek” recently included her as one of the “Women of the New Century.” In 1999, Vanzant was listed among the 100 Most Influential African-Americans by Ebony magazine.

According to Vanzant, her greatest desire is to help people know themselves “from the inside out and to use that knowledge as a tool of empowerment and love.” As founder of Inner Visions Spiritual Life Maintenance Network, she conducts ongoing workshops around the country.

Currently, Vanzant is the host of the TV program, “Starting Over.”


Campbell is the Executive Director/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and has over 20 years of experience as a civic leader. One of her most rewarding accomplishments at the NCBCP has been creating an innovative, youth-focused leadership development program, Black Youth Vote! Campbell was featured in the July 2003 Black Enterprise Magazine article on Black Leadership: The Next Generation.

She is a nationally-recognized expert on black civic participation, election reform, voting rights and coalition building. Highly successful coalition projects enacted under her leadership include the VOTE Election Reform Task Force in 2001 and most recently, the ReBuild Hope NOW coalition to assist survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in rebuilding their lives in the Gulf Coast. (

Campbell was a resident fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University in 2003 and is a contributing writer in the 2004 Harvard University Journal on African Americans in Public Policy, The Paradox of Loyalty: An African American Response to the War on Terrorism; the American Bar Association, Insights on Law & Society Magazine. She serves on the board of the Black Leadership Forum.


Bookmark and Share