The Women’s Conference is the nation’s premier forum for women, and its mission is to empower women to be Architects of Change in their homes, their workplaces, their communities and the world around them.
The Conference Event
The Women’s Conference event was originally established in 1985 by Governor George Deukmejian as The California Governor & First Lady’s Conference on Women, a non-partisan forum for women small business owners. At that time, women-owned businesses were failing at a high rate and the conference was created to provide support to this growing sector of the economy and help women access funding and resources.
Since 2004, under California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver’s leadership, the event has grown into the largest one-day conference for women in the nation and has become an iconic destination for world opinion leaders, entrepreneurs, visionaries, tastemakers, spiritual figures, authors, journalists, artists, and women from all walks of life to share perspectives, find common ground, undergo transformative experiences and create lasting legacies.
During this time, The Women’s Conference has featured such high-profile speakers as His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, Oprah Winfrey, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, Barbara Walters, Jane Fonda, Queen Noor of Jordan, Martha Stewart, Tyra Banks, Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, Queen Rania, Maureen Dowd, Sandra Day O’Connor, Thomas Friedman, Anna Quindlen, and Billie Jean King. These world-renowned speakers, and many others, have addressed the issues and concerns important to women today including family, work-life balance, entrepreneurship, politics, spirituality, health, aging and financial planning.
The annual event is held at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California.
The 14,000 women who attend The Women’s Conference come from all over California, but primarily Southern California. They range in age from 16 to over 65, and are diverse in terms of their occupations, income levels, race and ethnicity, and political affiliations.
The Conference Organization
A non-profit, non-partisan organization, The Women’s Conference is led by California First Lady Maria Shriver and her belief in the “power of WE.” The Women’s Conference is a “conference with a conscience” that has formed partnerships, developed programs, and supported initiatives — in California and beyond — to extend the inspiration of the conference beyond the day-long event and empower women everywhere.
WE Invest – Women’s Economic Empowerment Program
WE Invest is a women’s economic empowerment initiative, which supports organizations that provide women and families of the state with tools and resources needed to achieve financial self-sufficiency.
WE Care – Women’s Health Empowerment Program
WE Care is a women’s health empowerment initiative, which supports the work of CARE International, a leading humanitarian organization, to save the lives of thousands of pregnant women in Africa and Latin America.
The Minerva Awards – WE Honor
Named after the Roman goddess who graces the state’s seal, The Minerva Awards were founded in 2004 by First Lady Maria Shriver. Each year, five remarkable women are honored on the main stage of The Women’s Conference for stepping forward in the spirit of Minerva and changing their country with their courage, strength and wisdom.
The Minerva Leadership Program – WE Nurture
The Minerva Leadership Program seeks to inspire, educate and empower young women leaders between the ages of 16 and 22 who are civically oriented and socially conscious.
The Minerva Military Families Program – WE Support
The Military Families Initiative provides prepaid calling cards and other resources to deployed troops with families in California.
The Minerva Scholarship Program – WE Educate
The Minerva Scholarship Program recognizes and assists outstanding California women in their pursuit of higher education.
The Conference Leadership Team
Erin Mulcahy Stein is the current Executive Director of The Women’s Conference, which is headquartered in Los Angeles.
The Women’s Conference Board of Directors
* Jillian Manus
* Tanya Lopez Brooks
* Vicky Carlson
* Larry Dicke
* Cristina Ferrare Thomopolous
* Susan Froomer
* Lindy Dekoven
* Diane Jones Lowrey
* Donna Lucas
* Jan Miller
* Bonnie Reiss
* Amy Rosenberg – Ex Officio
* Michael Rourke
* Nadine Schiff
* Nicole Taylor
* Margita Thompson
The Conference Community
Every year, women leave The Women’s Conference feeling transformed – they are inspired to make change happen in their lives, empowered to serve their communities, and emboldened to reach goals that once seemed out of reach. CaliforniaWomen.org is a place with resouces, programs and tools to keep this feeling alive throughout the year, connect these women to many others around the world, and remind all women of their power to be “architects of change.”
We have incorporated the latest in design and technology to connect, educate, empower and inspire women in California and beyond. Please join our mailing list to get our newsletter and other important information. We also welcome you to join the conversation on our discussion boards and view and comment on our multimedia galleries.