Burnadette Norris-Weeks launched a conference to empower women of color

Burnadette Norris-Weeks launched a conference to empower women of color

Burnadette Norris-Weeks is a major proponent of girl power. As co-founder of a successful empowerment conference, she’s driven to see women move into places dominated by men. “Women move the needle,” she said. “If we’re strong, America’s strong. When women succeed, America succeeds.”

Maybe she’s blazing a path similar to one set by one of her mentors, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black person to run for president and the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Over the last decade, Norris-Weeks has championed the cause of helping women break through glass ceilings and into leadership positions both on the civic and corporate side.

Eventually, she formed South Florida Women of Color as the vehicle to make things happen.
For the last six years, Norris-Weeks, an attorney, has been at the helm of the Women of Color Empowerment Conference, a venture she believes fills a void. The conference brings to South Florida female leaders from across the United States in politics, business and industry for two days of networking, workshops and dialogue.

Out of the conference comes the WOC Institute, the organization that trains women age 40 and younger from the tri-county area who want to move into leadership in an array of fields, including academia, law, health care, government and politics. In January, the institute opened its first office at 2219 Sistrunk Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale; it also has a quarterly magazine that is available on the WOC website.

Things are happening fast, and Norris-Weeks couldn’t be happier.

“It’s really very exciting it’s a movement. There are not a lot of support networks for women. We don’t grow up where we have role models in these powerful positions,” she said. “By the time we come through the path the path has closed up. We try to keep those pathways open.”

Norris-Weeks is excited about the mentorship program, which is designed to link young leaders with people who are leading organizations and corporations, higher education and other areas.
“We are able to support young leaders … to groom women of color by uniting leaders,” she said. “If we don’t know each other we can’t support each other.”

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