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"We need to be better equipped to move up that corporate ladder, which means attaining positions that require line responsibilities and budgetary experiences—big-picture roles that reflect the increasing complexity of the music business."
——Elektra President Sylvia Rhone
NABFEME KICKS OFF SUMMIT
IN TORONTO
Black Female Execs to Discuss Career, Family Demands and Why They’re Doing This in Canada
The National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment (NABFEME) is hosting the 2001 International Leadership Summit Aug. 23-26 in Toronto, bringing together African American female executives from radio, records, film and television to discuss career, family and community demands specific to in the lives of black women. There’s no irony in the fact that the event is taking place in Canada.

Universal Records EVP/GM Jean Riggins, who serves as a summit chairperson, believes it’s important to support a conference tailored to meet specific needs of black women: "This conference focuses solely on the balance of career and family life for the black woman. There’s been nothing that focused on the black female executive. I’m delighted to be a part of something that’s about me."

The first of its kind, the summit was the idea of Island Def Jam Promotion VP and NABFEME founder Johnnie Walker, who often found herself unfulfilled by industry conferences—usually coming home with nothing to show for her attendance but crappy promo swag.

The panels at this confab run the gamut—everything from a mentorship power lunch to a panel on packing for business trips—all focused on the concerns of black females in the industry. Other panel topics include Internet usage, video images and juggling family and relationships with career.

On the final day of the summit, NABFEME will honor a pair of influential black female execs, Elektra President Sylvia Rhone and producer Suzanne de Passe, at a Shero Hall of Fame Induction dinner.

Rhone considers the organization a "real nexus" for African American women in the industry and agrees that it’s important to recognize the hurdles they face. "Historically, African Americans have supplied a large amount of the content that drives our industry, yet we’re often relegated to gender-based or race-specific roles that don’t afford us greater opportunities for mobility within the corporate structure," Rhone said. "We need to be better equipped to move up that corporate ladder, which means attaining positions that require line responsibilities and budgetary experiences—big-picture roles that reflect the increasing complexity of the music business."

Like NABFEME itself, the summit is not exclusive to black females. At presstime, organizers anticipate a number of men—including co-chairs Def Jam President Kevin Liles and Vanguarde Media, Inc. CEO Keith Clinkscales—and non-African Americans to be among the expected 300 attendees.

"If there is one thing that we want to achieve at the summit, it is community," says Walker. "If we achieve a sense of community among black women in the industry, we will have made a major accomplishment."

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