Last week I had the privilege of attending the 1st Annual Women in Green Forum in Pasadena, California.

The two-day conference focused on women in environmental careers and – of course – how we plan to change the world. This was the first conference of its kind, produced by Jaime Nack of Three Squares Inc. who headed up the greening effort for the Democratic National Convention in 2008; a massive and successful undertaking.

The Forum was jam packed from morning to evening with speakers and panels covering almost every topic on sustainability that you could possibly think of: Clean Transportation, Green Building + Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Organic Food + Beverage, Water: Oceans, Rivers and Watersheds, Eco Fashion, Green Meetings + Events, Waste Diversion + Recycling, Health + Beauty, Corporate Sustainability, Financing Clean Technology and more.

Pretty impressive…  for a bunch of girls.

I was bowled over by the dedication and determination of these women. With each new session, I was more in awe of what these ladies had undertaken and how much they had accomplished – many of them weren’t even in their 30’s yet. Every single woman (and one guy, John Picard) gave their presentations from a place of conviction that was unique and genuine. Most of them shared stories of their fears and failures as well as their strengths and successes, openly and honestly.

Although the conference was two solid days of events and speakers, I did have the opportunity to sit down and converse with some of these great women. The discussions off the podium were equally reflective of their depth of knowledge and their courage. I was particularly excited about the political conversations, not only because I love talking politics, but because it was a chance to learn firsthand about some of the important issues facing California (that we might not hear about in Colorado), from people who know what they’re talking about.

WIGF logo

One of the highlights for me, was a speaker session at the end of the second day, about Ecopreneurs, with Brooke Betts Farrell, founder of Recycle Match (Houston) and Charisse McAuliffe, founder of GenGreen Life (Fort Collins). Initially only Brook was scheduled to speak during the session, but at lunch she and Charisse got to talking and realized there were startling similarities (and consequential differences) in how each had formed their companies, got them up and running, and moved them forward. At the drop of a hat, Brook suggested they do the presentation together and make it more of a Q+A session. Without flinching, Charisse was on board with the idea and I must say, they could not have planned a better outcome.

Each gave a brief history and then they opened it up to questions from the audience, which were answered in tag team fashion with candor and a good dose of humor. The session ran over time, but the audience kept asking questions and every response was so interesting and funny I think we wanted it to go on forever. But alas, they had to end it – so the conversation continued out in the hallway.

This conference goes on the books as one of my top three. It’s my intention to stay in contact with everyone I personally met and had a conversation with, to follow their progress, promote their businesses, and (fingers crossed) hopefully work with them at some point on some great projects. I look forward to catching up with all of them at the 2nd Annual Conference in 2011.  ✻