Monday night I did something I never imagined I’d be asked to do…I was part of a panel of women entrepreneurs at Albany’s University Club discussing the importance of peer support. How in the world did that happen? I’m still not certain, but what I can tell you is this – it was a remarkable evening in many surprising ways.
Here are the tangibles about the evening; the invitation for me to participate came from Colleen Ryan, the dynamo behind so many initiatives around town. The idea for the Leap Day event had actually been conceived at my own Ladies First Event back in November, an act of serendipity that I absolutely love. The panel consisted of three women, each of us in different and interesting fields. Joining me were Katie O’Malley Mallon, owner of Katie O Weddings and Events and Dr. Tobi Saulnier, founder of First Playable Productions. Coincidently (?) the entire panel rocked red hair – titian power at its finest.
Prior to the “formal” part of the evening, wine and tidbits were served, including a tasting table provided by Capital Wine & Spirits, my Lark Street neighbor. As I
chugged sipped courage in the form of thimbles of wine (I think I had 2), I looked around the room and was struck by how many women there were familiar to me. I felt the presence of my posse. My comfort level with the thought of speaking in front of this crowd of 60+ increased – and not from the wine, either, it was the realization that the women present were there to share – thoughts, experiences, advice and laughter. It was going to be fine.
The Times Union’s Tracey Ormsbee was the moderator and she posed questions that were general enough to give each of us an opportunity to respond. Katie and Tobi were so impressive with their insightful and intelligent answers and they were positively inspirational. Humor was also very present and the audience was wonderfully receptive, asking questions which were indicative of the degree of engagement which was present. It was a wonderful evening.
Bookending the panel were two encounters which were the perfect prelude and coda to my night. As I got out of my car, which I had parked on Washington Avenue near my very first apartment, I encountered one of my customers from the first Albany restaurant where I had worked. It just felt like such a sign from my past, almost as if it was evidence that the encounters one has over the years remain permanently with us. Incredibly enough, he was on his way to my event – can you imagine?!
As the event came to a close, I was reluctant to end the night. Knowing that my very first Albany friend, Mary Panza, was hosting an open mic poetry reading down at McGeary’s, I got in my car and headed downtown. Spending a little time with my oldest local peep seemed like the perfect way to bring the night, and my Albany life, full circle.