From left to right: Christina Unkel, Sheba Matheu, Shannon Rohrer-Phillips, Abby Wambach, Nely Galán, Ingrid Harb, Aisha Nyandaro and Natasha Chen.

Image: Cliff Roles

The Voice + Visibility Women's Summit, a one-day event created to empower, expand and elevate women leaders of Southwest Florida, was held this week at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.

The day began with a performance from Sarasota Contemporary Dance and continued with a roster of keynote speakers that included American soccer player, Olympian and author Abby Wambach, entrepreneur and former Telemundo president Nely Galán and CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen, among others. Speech topics ranged from women in business, workplace inequality, solving the gender pay gap and how to become an independent female entrepreneur.

A booth at the Voice + Visibility Women's Summit.

Wambach spoke about her career since her retirement from the U.S. women's soccer team and how her book Wolfpack has led to motivational speaking opportunities and the creation of a new leadership program, Wolfpack Endeavor. While telling a story about getting benched during a game in her career, Wambach explained that most of her leadership skills have not been learned out on the field, but on the bench, supporting her teammates. "Don't miss an opportunity to lead, no matter where you are in life," Wambach said.

She also encouraged the crowd to define their own success, use failure as motivation and find their "wolf pack," or group of fellow supportive women. Women, like members of a pack, need one another in order to survive and succeed, she said. "Suffering and joy is always better shared," Wambach said.

Galán recounted her story of immigrating from Cuba to the United States in the 1960s and how she became one of the most influential Latina women in TV production history. Her book, Self Made, encourages women to become financially independent. According to Galán, risky decisions to speak up early in her career changed her life. "We want to be the good girls all the time, but sometimes we have to change how we behave to succeed," Galán said. Galán added that she built her career by embracing her heritage and ethnicity, and she encouraged other women to do the same.

In the final panel of the day, FIFA referee, Women's Sports Museum director and Sarasota attorney Christina Unkel joined Wambach to discuss equal pay in sports and beyond, embracing diversity in the workplace and balancing parenthood with a career. "Instead of morphing to become someone else, women should be authentically themselves in the workplace," Wambach added. "As women, gratitude is often the only emotion we are allowed to have. But sometimes you truly just deserve what you've worked for."

The Voice + Visibility Women's Summit will return to Sarasota on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. For more details, click here. 

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