This Tuesday, Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine hosted the Envision Columbia Women’s Summit at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
“The purpose of the summit is to ensure that women in our community are aware of City Council’s vision statement and strategic plan,” Devine stated prior to the event.
As the only female member of City Council, Devine’s focus for the summit was to connect with women in the community and hear their views about the future of Columbia The summit was completely free and open to elected officials, business leaders, community advocates and women in the community who were concerned about the future for their city, neighborhoods, children, and families.
Devine, along with a panel of notable guest speakers, hoped to empower local women, giving them a direct platform to express their concerns to her. Devine stressed to the audience that the gendered focus of the day was to provide a voice to women on issues often overlooked. “I’m not male-bashing. I love men. I love my husband,” she told the audience with a laugh. “But my husband knows, too, that in order for our daughters to be successful and to see Columbia as a place they want to remain, they have to see people who look like them in positions of power and creating change.”
The event spanned over four hours and featured breakout sessions for specific topics, including attracting and retaining talent, city planning, connecting communities, empowering residents, economic prosperity, enhancing Columbia’s neighborhoods, and innovative and high quality municipal services. Several local organizations, women’s advocates, and elected officials attended the event, including Palmetto Conservation Foundation, North Columbia Business Association, and several government offices.
Columbia City Council outlined five major goals for which they hoped local women would increasingly become major action-takers.
1. Grow opportunities for entrepreneurship, business development, and a skilled workforce to achieve a healthy economy.
2. Connect the city’s neighborhoods and business districts through cohesive land use, infrastructure development, and transportation planning.
3. Foster a healthy quality of life focusing on safety, culture, and recreation.
4. Collaborate and partner with entities within the Midlands region to become the state’s prime destination for residents, visitors, and business.
5. Provide high quality municipal services, efficiently, effectively, and responsively.
Panelists for the event included Ann Dawson August, the executive director of Central Midlands RTA/COMET; Anita Floyd, the senior vice-president for community impact and strategic implementation at United Way of the Midlands; Cheryl Harris, board commissioner for Richland County School District One; Melanie Huggins, the executive director of Richland Library; Tammy Mainwaring, the president of IT-oLogy; Joann Turnquist, the CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation; and Teresa Wilson, the City of Columbia’s city manager.
Devine was pleased with the event’s turnout and optimistic about the input she was given. “Columbia is an inclusive, compassionate city that celebrates diversity,” she said Tuesday. “I ask you today, what legacy are you leaving for Columbia, and what are we doing to help us reach our vision?”