Success directors share special bond, passion for empowering women
When they get together, lots of laughter usually ensues.
But when it comes to the Success Women’s Conference, directors Dorothy P. Wilson, Kearn Cherry and Tiffany D. Bell are serious about the transformative potential of the event – now entering its fifth year.
“For me, Success Women’s Conference is about encouraging each woman to be her own kind of successful,” says Wilson, editor and publisher of Gulf Coast Woman Magazine and co-founder of the conference. “It is making room and making space for each woman’s talents, for her skillset — and also for her dreams. Success is an opportunity to really walk in the door and you’re one place, and then when you walk out the door, you’re at a brand-new place at a whole new level.”
Adds Cherry, owner of PRN Homecare and the other co-founder of the event, “I feel like it’s a chance for us to empower (attendees), to energize them, increase their knowledge.”
The ever-growing conference returns in September and is expected to draw more than 3,500 attendees from 12 states. Before it became the region’s premier, women-centered event with a national reach, the conference was an idea — one that required the skills of its determined, talented founders to reach fruition.
Cherry recalls that a women’s conference “was something that I’ve always wanted to do.”
“I felt like here on the Coast, we’d been missing that,” she says. “Women like to get together and mingle, and they really like to network; they like to get to know each other.” Before Success, she adds, local women had to travel to Florida, California or elsewhere for such an experience.
The subject arose often in conversations with Wilson, she says, who finally asked, “’Why don’t we just do it?’”
“What I found from our relationship was that Dorothy brings the big ideas,” Cherry adds. “She’ll bring them in, and we’ll sit down, and she gets us to think it through … . I’m more of the person who’s going to be about the folks. We’ve got to make sure they’re happy.”
Bell, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center and who joined Wilson and Cherry as directors last year, says Cherry is a giver who loves to see other people’s faces light up. “I think she’s probably my biggest cheerleader,” Bell says. “There’s nothing I can run by her that she doesn’t say, ‘Hey, Tiffany, if you put your heart behind it, you can do it.’ She’s a natural encourager. I don’t even know if she realizes that.”
Bell says she met Wilson about a decade ago through church. She says she admires her ability to see the big picture and inspire others. “She’s great at seeing the heart of individuals and speaking to the heart,” Bell says. “She’s good at putting her finger on the real source of the issues that you’re facing and helping you to walk a different way or see it from a different perspective.”
Before she had met Bell, Wilson says she had noticed her and was drawn to her. Sensing her inner strength, Wilson says she felt compelled to get to know her and learn what had made her that way.
She discovered that Bell possesses a big heart for people and a passion to serve. “The thing I love about her is that she is like the people whisperer,” Wilson says. “She sits in meetings, and while everybody else is watching all the different directions the ball is bouncing as far as strategy, she’s looking at how people are bouncing – and she’s wanting to make sure everyone is being taken care of, everybody’s being heard and their needs have been met. I think that makes her really, really special.”
The magazine publisher likewise was curious about Cherry before meeting her, hearing her name frequently while working at the local newspaper.
“What is this woman after? What makes her tick?” she recalls wondering. “When we started to get to know one another, I realized she has a huge heart for her community. She wants to make a difference.”
With their shared passion for making a positive impact. Wilson says it’s not uncommon for her and Cherry to call or text each other at 1 a.m.
“We’re like, ‘What are you doing up?’” she laughs. “We’re on social media. We’re sending emails. We’re working on spreadsheets. We’re getting things done…. I really admire her tenacity and her drive in being able to accomplish the things that are important to her.”
While she considers Wilson “the visionary,” Cherry views Bell as a grounding force who reels her co-directors “back into reality.”
“We really work well together because we can see each other’s strengths, and we play on each other’s strengths,” she says. “Dorothy and I are like sisters; we catfight sometimes about little, silly stuff, and then we realize that was a waste of time. Let’s go ahead and keep going forward. Then Tiffany’s like, ‘I told y’all. Just listen to me in the first place.’”
With the 2019 conference set for Sept. 19-21, the trio has entered planning mode — excited to now offer a three-day opportunity for women from all walks of life to grow, connect, refocus — and ultimately change their lives. Bell says she’s heard numerous personal testimonials from attendees who have started businesses or tripled their income as a result of the conference.
“It doesn’t make a difference really where you’re at career-wise, young, old, those who are just entering the workforce, those who are thinking perhaps you’re going to make a shift and step out … ,” she says. “No matter where you are on that spectrum, there’s something for you at Success.”
While the conference is a huge undertaking with many moving parts, Cherry says the benefits are more than worth the hard work. Women who attend the conference, she adds, realize they no longer have to wait or be held back.
“To me, Success allows them the opportunity not to just dream,” Cherry says, “but to actually take the next step.”