“And Suddenly I Realized My Liabilities Were My Assets” Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair of the California Arts Council, at The Women’s PowerStrategy Conference 2012

by Patricia V. Davis



In March, we held our first Women’s PowerStrategy Conference. For those who didn’t see last month’s post, The Women’s PowerStrategy Conference is “a gathering of leaders from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise who are joining forces to educate and inspire women of all ages to believe and invest in their own talents, skills and potential.

Womens Power Strategy Conference 2012It’s been a goal of mine for a while now to hold yearly conferences like this, and to sponsor the attendance of girls and women who for one reason or another might not be able to come otherwise. This year’s conference sponsored the delightful young women of Girls Inc. Alameda and Girls Inc. West Contra Costa County.   I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Tachiff and Mieasha Harris, two women who’ve worked very hard to make these two branches of this wonderful organization which encourages girls to be “Strong, Smart, and Bold” stand out in their achievements. (I hope you’ll to click on the links above to learn more about these groups. To say they have a passion for inspiring young women would actually be an understatement.)

In addition to the attending girls from Girls Inc., we also had over three dozen extraordinary speakers who made the day a day to remember, apart from the reason of how much it rained. (And rained and rained.)


But one of our most memorable speakers was Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, whose plan it was to fly up in the early morning from Las Angeles to San Francisco to deliver her keynote speech and then fly back home in the afternoon to be with her two small children.  The rain affected those plans, as did the fact that she forgot her wallet. She worried a great deal about the fact that we had to scramble around to change the scheduling to fit this mishap into the day. But she shouldn’t have worried. Not at all. In fact, as awful as this seems for me to say, I’m glad she forgot her wallet. That caused her to miss her plane, and when she rescheduled for a later flight, the rain delayed that second flight’s arrival. She was supposed to arrive at 9 a.m. give her talk at 10:30 a.m., fly back down to L.A. at 1:15 p.m.  Instead she arrived at noon, got to the conference and gave her talk at about 2:00 p.m., and then had to rush to catch her rescheduled flight at 4:00 p.m. These misadventures inspired a speech unlike any other I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing.

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver-Womens Power Strategy Conference 2012We expected a graceful, beautiful and privileged woman to talk to us about the dismal state of arts education in California schools, and why many educators feel it’s actually become a civil rights issue. We got what we expected from Malissa. She is beautiful, graceful and, as she stated, privileged to be part of the Kennedy family. (Although, after you hear her speech, I have a feeling you’ll agree with me that the Kennedys are also very privileged to have her as a member of their family.) She also did have the opportunity to talk a bit about some of the creative ways she and others have come up with to raise money to combat the loss of arts education in California schools.


But, Malissa gave us far more than that with her talk. Honestly? I’m tearing up just thinking about it again. People are never what you expect. Sometimes they are much, much more. Listen to her speech and then let me know if you agree.


Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair of the California Arts Council, Talks about “Vulnerablity” at The Women’s PowerStrategy Conference 2012Thank you, Malissa, for persevering in your promise to attend our conference, no matter that it cost you another plane ticket, (for which she would not let us reimburse her) and a fifteen hour day, most of which was spent at the airport. (After missing her first flight, Malissa also missed her return flight due to the weather, too, and then had to wait at the airport for the next flight to L.A. at 7:00 p.m. She did not reach home until 10 p.m!)  Thank you, for coming to speak your heart out to a bunch of men and women who were strangers to you, but who will now never forget you or the things you said.


To learn more about Malissa at: http://www.feruzzifineart.com/bio.htm and at the California Arts Council website.

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