Each year, the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio hosts an annual Keyholder event, bringing together community members united by a shared passion to empower women. With a keynote speaker, inspiring tributes, and a compelling look at that year’s grant partners, the Keyholder motivates and inspires. Held at Nationwide Arena for the first time, this year’s event drew thousands of people that surpassed the capacity of its former location at Ohio Theater. I was fortunate to attend with my fellow Girls on the Run of Franklin County board members, and one of the things we loved was the incredible video tributes that allowed us to put faces to organizations.
After a handful of video tributes,a brief glance at the grant partners for 2012, and opening remarks from the Women’s Fund staff, the Harmony Project launched into song. An organization that seeks to change the community through song and service, the Harmony Project seemed a fitting organization to be part of the Keyholder event.
Who was the Keyholder’s speaker this year? One word: Whoopi. Though a well-known comedian, actor, and humanitarian—someone almost larger than life—Whoopi shared stories that any of us could relate to. She acknowledged having made the difficult choice of pursuing her career while parenting. We laughed; we cried. I loved the instant rapport Whoopi and interviewer Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown had, and it enhanced the feeling that we were part of an intimate conversation. “All this stuff has to come from within first,” stated Whoopi on accepting criticism and building self-confidence. “If you can handle that not everyone’s going to like you, then you can be an individual.” These words stuck with us—Whoopi wasn’t going to sugarcoat anything.
Whoopi had us on the edge of our seats, laughing over menopause-inspired, bawdy quips—but she also had us curious about her work on The View, her rise to movie stardom, her mother’s role in shaping her success and beliefs. What about those dry years, the years when Whoopi retreated from being a household name? She spoke to this candidly, believing that sometimes speaking out has its costs.
This was my first time ever attending an event at Nationwide Arena—yes, my first time in two years of living in Columbus!—and I though it lived up to its hype. It’s a giant venue that really can be transformed depending on the type of event; while it has served everyone from the Columbus Blue Jackets to boxing matches, it also can function quite well as a venue for speakers and more intimate events.
My favorite takeaway from Whoopi’s interview? “You can take a beat. You don’t have to react to everything that happens.” Good advice for women (and men) of all ages. I hope that you’ll attend the Keyholder event in 2013—it’s an incredibly inspiring event that will encourage you to take action!
Jess Gambacurta, Social Marketing Strategist at Cement Marketing, lives, works, and plays downtown. She is the editor of Curating Style, a lifestyle blog, and a Girls on the Run of Franklin County board member. Connect with Jess on Twitter.