Dianna Flett rushed to get as close as she could to the White House’s United State of Women summit stage June 13.
The Stafford County founder of Girl Smarts, an after-school program designed to empower tweens, said there were so many powerful people at the three-day event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington that it was overwhelming.
If she looked one way, she could see first lady Michelle Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden. If she looked the other way, she could see Oprah Winfrey, “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington and Lilly Ledbetter, whose lawsuit against Goodyear led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.
“I could just explode,” Flett said over coffee at Starbucks recently. “Each of them had such a strong message of empowerment. It was almost a culmination, in my lifetime, of what women in the ‘60s worked so hard for … and all of a sudden you’re at the first women’s summit. It was pretty spectacular.”
Flett, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, was among the lucky ones selected to attend the summit. About 10,000 applied, but only half were chosen. She credits the fact that she’s ex-military and a small business owner, and is already thinking of ways to incorporate what she learned there into Girl Smarts when it starts up again Aug. 22.