This year’s conference focuses on the importance of Black women having a place in the spaces and conversations where decisions are made.
Hardy is the Executive Editor of The Dallas Morning News. Prior to that, she was the Executive Editor of the IndyStar, where her newsroom won the Pulitzer Prize; and, the Midwest Regional Editor for the USA Today Network.
She joined the USA Today Network in 2016, where she started as the top editor of the Greenville News and then took on responsibilities as South Regional editor for the Network, overseeing news organizations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia. Previously, Hardy had worked at the Virginian-Pilot for 20 years, where she started as an intern and left as the managing editor. She also has been honored with an IRE Top medal for investigative journalism.
“I believe strongly that a news organization’s role is to shine a light on the wonderful people and organizations that are making a difference in our local communities, as well as it is to uncover the problems, ills, misuses, and abuses to help bring about positive change,” says Hardy.
Also taking the keynote stage is McKissack Daniel, President & CEO of McKissack & McKissack, the nation’s oldest Black- and woman-owned and -led design and construction firm.
With more than 30 years of experience in construction, she serves as Principal-in-Charge and Project Executive on numerous high-profile projects, including major work in the healthcare, education, transportation, and commercial sectors, and is actively involved in project oversight and management, ensuring that diversity is implemented during each project phase.
The family business was founded in 1905 by the first Black licensed architects in America, Moses McKissack III and Calvin McKissack. However, the family’s beginnings in the construction industry began two generations earlier when McKissack Daniel’s great-great-grandfather Moses McKissack, an enslaved man who was brought to America, learned the trade of brick making and building.
Today, the 118-year-old McKissack & McKissack is based in New York City with a portfolio including The New Terminal One at JFK International Airport; the World Trade Center Transportation Hub; LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Building Redevelopment; Coney Island Hospital Campus Renovation; Harlem Hospital Center New Patient Pavilion; Atlantic Yards (Barclays Center) LIRR Vanderbilt Yard Relocation; Columbia University Manhattanville Expansion; and Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital & Skilled Nursing Facility.
In Philadelphia, McKissack’s projects include Lincoln Financial Field football stadium, US Airways International Terminal, The School District of Philadelphia, and Wexford One uCity Square. Daniel’s company has contracted over $50 billion over the past decade.
“It is pertinent now more than ever to make sure that businesses owned by minorities and women have a seat at the table and remain a viable part of not only New York City’s economic growth, but the entire country’s,” said McKissack Daniel. “If we want to be in the room where deals are made and have the doors of opportunity open for us, we must be intentional about where we are headed.
“That is why, as an employer with a primary goal to strengthen, encourage, and make women financially secure, my current vision for McKissack is to foster and grow new opportunities for diversity and inclusion through employment, mentorship, and education.”
According to organizers, this year’s conference theme, “In the Room; At the Table,” highlights the importance of Black women having a place and power in the spaces and conversations where decisions are made. Being in the room means being present for important conversations, and seizing the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with other leaders.
The elevation of “in the room” is to have a seat “at the table” – ascending to the role of power and influence that shapes the future and the outcomes of entire organizations and the people impacted by those organizations.
Registration is now open for the Women’s Leadership Summit.
The Women’s Leadership Summit is the premier conference for Black women who are professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders in Dallas, with a mission to empower and uplift other professional Black women through education, networking, and mentorship. The WLS was founded by entrepreneur and former State Representative Helen Giddings in 2018 “to empower, strengthen and transform the lives of women through mentorship, and providing resources for personal and professional growth.”