Between today and Sunday, nearly 500 professional women will converge on Oklahoma City, seeking inspiration and ideas they can use for the benefit of their communities.
The Links Inc., a not-for-profit organization for professional women of color, will hold its regional, annual conference in the metro, and members say it's the first time they can remember OKC hosting The Links Central Area conference.
Hosting the conference here makes it easier for local Links members to be there, said Chalon Anderson, OKC chapter president, including senior members. She said more than 50 metro-area Links members plan to attend the event, held at the Cox Convention Center.
The conference has a strong educational component.
"We have workshops on leadership and volunteerism, and how to manage that, and just an array of things that maybe we wouldn't have here in our Oklahoma City area, but that might be something that we would be interested in doing," Anderson said.
Workshops play an important role in the conference, said Brenda Griggs, co-chair for the area conference.
"They can learn about different strategies that they can take back to their own communities and chapters and maybe improve on their own programs," she said.
The conference is also an opportunity for chapters to share their successes and learn what has and hasn't worked for other groups.
"We talk about educational programs that support the arts, we talk about what we might be doing, and some of the things we might need to do," Griggs said. "We talk about "¦ some of the most critical needs in our community."
In addition to the workshops, the conference also includes several social events, including the Civic Luncheon. At this year's luncheon, the organization will honor several local individuals and groups, including Integris Health, with whom The Links has partnered on the Women's Health Forum. The luncheon will honor civil rights activist Clara Luper, as well.
The conference is also an opportunity to showcase all that Oklahoma City has to offer, Griggs said.
"We think from an economic standpoint, it's going to give us a chance to put maybe close to a million dollars into our economy," she said.
At the event, The Links OKC chapter will also spotlight KIPP, one of its many community service projects. KIPP, or the "Knowledge Is Power Program" is a national network of college prep schools focused on strengthening math and science skills. Links Kids, another of the local chapter's community service initiatives, will also be spotlighted. Participants from the program, which provides dance lessons to local girls through the high school level, will perform at the conference.
Member Gloria Griffin said the conference is also a valuable way to raise awareness of the organization's work and its role in the community.
"I think it's important for these women coming in from mainly the north central part of the United States to see the support we have in our community for our various endeavors, and also for our community to know more about the Oklahoma City chapter of The Links, and the wonderful service that it is providing," Griffin said. "Lea Terry