‘Leading with Influence’—Professional Women’s Network kicks off new year with theme message

OUTLINING KEYS TO INFLUENCE—Keynote speaker, Dionne J. Edmonds, is committed to empowering women to be all that God has created them to be. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)

Professional Women’s Network kicked off 2019 with their annual Women’s Empowerment Luncheon, Jan. 5, at the Fairmont Hotel, Downtown.
“This is such an exciting day,” said Danielle Parson-Rush, the group’s founder and executive director.
Themed, “Leading With Influence,” she described the purpose of the luncheon as bringing women from throughout the Pittsburgh region together for a message, to provide a needed pep talk for the start of the new year. The theme’s aim was for the audience to explore six questions: how they are using their influence to make a lasting impact; are they recognizing their worth; what is driving them; is there something stopping them; what is in the way; and how can the PWN women help in making 2019 their best year ever.
Defining the word influence as to move or impel someone or something to action, keynote speaker Dionne J. Edmonds said, “Like waves in the ocean are influenced by wind levels, so are people influenced by their leaders. Science tells us that if the wind blows strongly enough that it will produce massive, powerful waves. Ladies, I remind you that you and I carry within us the capacity to cause those that follow us to produce major waves in the spheres that we influence.”
SETTING THE STAGE FOR 2019—Founder and executive director of PWN, Danielle Parson-Rush, is excited about the year ahead.

Her three keys to leading with influence were knowing your who, what and why. “Who influences you?” she asked. “Whomever influences you will impact the way you influence those around you, the way you influence those that report to you and the way that you lead.”
Addressing the key of knowing your what, she said in these times of social media that it is important to “stay woke,” to be alert, cognizant and aware because so much of what we do is often influenced by what other people are doing. She advised to be careful of determining what you do based on others. Such a mindset, she said, is what keeps us from pursuing what is authentic to us.
“Looking at what everybody else is doing and the way they do it leads us further and further away. There is something that you were put on this earth to do that nobody else can do. There is something that you carry, your life experiences, your makeup, your background, where you grew up, your particular family that you were placed in, contributes to who you are and helps you to lead the way that you do.”
Knowing your why, she pointed out, is what will keep you going when the odds are against you. It will keep you awake at night, will have you with a journal next to your nightstand, writing down notes of your dreams and ideas. “Your why has to be bigger than you, not just about money or material things.”
She challenged the audience to think of their why as something timeless. “Something that outlives you.” She said to wrestle with the question of why you are doing what you are doing.
Her final challenge to the audience was for them to be the kind of woman that leads from within versus without. “Because of what is carried on the inside, lead in such a way that the environment doesn’t change you, but you change the environment. There is something special about us as women that when we gather what we are able to bring to the table is unique to us that only we can do.”
Driven to serve women through the teaching of God’s word, Edmonds is passionate about making disciples for Jesus Christ and believes in the importance of empowering women to be all that God has created them to be. Describing herself as a wife, mother, daughter, sister and lover of God, she is a graduate of Duke Divinity School, with a Master of Divinity, and completed her undergraduate studies at Howard University.
The wife of the Senior Pastor of Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh in the Hill District, Brian Edmonds, she has had the opportunity to teach women in many ministry settings across the city, the country and the world. She is the author of a book, “Calling Up Your Boaz: How to Date in A Way That Honors God” and has served God through mission’s work in South Africa and Mozambique.
Other program participants included Susan Baida, director of community engagement, who discussed UPMC’s community commitment. Final remarks were provided by Jessica Brooks-Woods, PWN’s advisory committee chair. Lisa Washington of KDKA-TV served as the luncheon emcee.
Known for connecting, engaging and inspiring, PWN was founded three years ago by Parson-Rush to nourish women to excel in their personal and professional lives while being a positive and active influence in their communities. Its vision is described as to connect and uplift professional women to build stronger communities.
PWN will hold an event, Feb. 22, called the “Wine Experience.” The event will be held at CKV Suites in Homewood, featuring wine education and tasting with the Hue Society, with wines produced, bottled and distributed by African America brands. “A Learning to Lead: Strategies for Success” workshop will be held, March 6, at the Rivers Club, and the “Ladies Who Lead” recognition is April 26 at Audi Pittsburgh.
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