Last weekend the ABWA Council of Southern California hosted their annual “Hats Off” event. I was a brand new member at the time of this event last year and I was unable to attend.  I had no idea what to expect at this year’s “Hats Off To Brilliance”, I thought possibly just a luncheon with the opportunity to meet woman from some of the other Southern California chapters.  But it was so much more.  Sure we got a lovely lunch from the Lakewood Country Club but that was just a tiny part of this wonderful event.  

At the start of the program we were introduced to the the National Board and a few special guests.  The presentation for the Councilwoman of the Year, of which our very own Susan McCormick was nominated, was presented by last year’s winner Cecile Harris Walters.  The 2019 Councilwoman of the Year was awarded to Melissa McCaughey. 

Although most of the event is for award presentations, speakers and a candidates forum, in the midst of all that was a little bit of entertainment. The DJ started off with some impressive and soulful singing.  But what came next was probably the highlight of the day.  He called on six unsuspecting woman to come on stage to lip-sync, in the first of three hilarious and spirited performances.  To be quite truthful I was in my seat trying to come up with a legitimate excuse to get out of it if they called on me, yet all the woman that got called on seemed to jump at the chance to get on stage and perform.  They were so fun to watch and had all of us laughing and cheering at their spontaneous choreography and moves.

After a short break to enjoy a delicious lunch we got back to the program with the guest speaker, ABWA Woman of the Year, Latorie Lloyd Walker.  She gave an incredible speech and I’m awe of what she has accomplished and how becoming a member has really helped give her the tools and strength to succeed.  One of the things I constantly hear from members, and I can totally relate to, is how upon joining ABWA they were immediately roped into a board position, having no idea what they were getting themselves into.  In fact, I learned a new favorite term at “Hats Off” from one of the speakers, “voluntold”.  How many members can relate to the fact that you didn’t so much volunteer, you were voluntold?  But it’s these experiences that bring us out of our ruts and our shells and help make us better, more well-rounded and successful woman. 

The next part of the program was hosted by none other then the amazing Arnedra Jordan, a 2019 ABWA Top Ten.  Arnedra is so incredibly inspiring, when I hear her list of accomplishments, I often wonder when she has time to sleep.  Arnedra called up the candidates running for offices this year.  Each candidate had to pull questions randomly from an envelope and answer them on the spot, with no knowledge of the questions ahead of time.  They all gave very thoughtful and thorough answers, many of which really helped spark thoughts in my head of ways to improve the Wind Song Chapter.  

The event wrapped up with the Hats of the Day Parade.  All the woman wearing hats parade around the room and one person is awarded with best hat.  Finally there are some closing remarks from Chris Linowski and winners were drawn for the opportunity and 50/50 drawings.  

It was an informative, fun and inspirational day. I look forward to attending next year’s event.  Who knows maybe I’ll even wear a hat?