When it comes to weathering a storm and delivering what’s needed even when things get tough, right up there on the list are journalists, a fact well-proven this past week.
And among those journalists who didn’t let a hurricane get in the way was ABC 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas who made the wet trek in from New York City Thursday to be the keynote speaker at the Business Women’s Forum in Hartford.
“It is terrible,” said a very serious Vargas as she gave an update on the state of New York City as it recovers from Hurricane Sandy and the damage and disruption that resulted. “If you can’t walk somewhere you can’t go,” she said referring to the traffic gridlock around Manhattan during the suspension of train and subway service. “Travel that usually takes minutes takes hours.”
With rain boots tucked into her tote bag, Vargas dropped everything when she arrived, turning her attention to the topic of the day, the need for women to support women.
“We make up more than half the voting population, more than have the college graduates and there is power there,” said Vargas. The mother of two boys, she admitted she was a “little” disappointed when her first was not a girl.
“I told my husband (singer-songwriter Marc Cohn ) that I had wanted to raise a strong woman,” she said.
His stoic response?
“Why don’t you raise sons who will love a strong woman?”
The mood at the forum, with workshop speakers including UCONN women’s basketball associate head coach Chris Dailey and former Disney exec and customer service speaker Dennis Snow, was party-like with many of those attending said it was just what they needed after a very stressful few days.
“My kids were home from school for a couple of days because of the storm and we had a downed tree that did some damage and that can turn things upside down,” explained Donna Bannon, a Farmington resident who works in Hartford. “I just need to catch a second breath and get back to normal. A break like this helps.”
Besides the gender bonding, the event also marked the 30th anniversary for the forum, making it the longest running full day conference for women in Connecticut.
It was a milestone chairperson Bernadette Graziosa embraced.
“I attended my first BWF 28 years ago and remember leaving feeling empowered and enthused and motivated,” said Graziosa, president and owner of The Grotto & Mrs. G. “And I still do all these years later. Our mission is the same but our workshops have adapted as technology and issues have changed.”
The forum has boasted a celebrity list of keynote speakers including Goldie Hawn, Susan St. James and Paula Abdul. But there was one former speaker getting a special shout-out at Thursday’s event.
Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant, will be receiving a special poster of herself, one that was signed by those at the forum.
“She was our keynote twice and was wonderful,” said Graziosa. “We wanted her to know she is in our hearts and prayers.”