“The Best Me” revealed October 26

“The Best Me is described as a conference for black women, by black women, to call our better selves forward,”

Lauren Jennings

explains Lauren Jennings, Founder and Event Organizer. “We are women who crave clarity, confidence and connection. Our mission is to create an authentic, safe space to explore healing, embrace self-love and feel empowered. The uniqueness of the black women’s experience demands that we shed the label of “women of color” and embrace our many shades of melanin that require a singular focus on us, by us. We are black women and we are magic.”

This one day conference is Saturday, October 26, 2019, Mills College (Oakland, CA) from 10am to 5pm.  Details available at www.thebestmeconference.com


If I’m a black woman, I have some disadvantages because I’m a woman and some disadvantages because I’m black. But I also have some disadvantages specifically because I’m a black woman, which neither black men nor white women have to deal with. That’s intersectionality: race, gender, and every other way to be disadvantaged interact with each other.

I spoke with Lauren Jennings about the remarkable slate of speakers and goals of The Best Me–

Sandra Varner (Talk2SV): When did you know this conference needed to take place?

Jennings: I never had any intention of planning a conference. Originally, I was looking for a local conference to attend where I would be surrounded by positive women of color (particularly black women) who were looking to better themselves. In searching, however, I couldn’t find one on the West Coast. Unless I was a black woman in tech, or owned my own company, there wasn’t a conference geared towards me. I didn’t fit in any of the “boxes” that most conferences target. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way so I gathered a group of girlfriends on a conference call to get their thoughts. Sure enough, they too were interested in a conference focused on black woman empowerment and didn’t know of one that took place. After this phone call, I knew there was a need for the conference and I set out to create it.

What is your vision, what is your goal for this conference?

The vision for The Best Me Conference is to bring inter generational black women together in a room for connections, empowerment and good ol’ girl time! We created this conference to support Black women of all ages looking to level up their lives and seeking for the support to do so. So often, we, as black women are the only ones in the room. We might be the only ones at work, the only ones at school, or the only ones who live in our neighborhood. Sometimes being the only one can be exhausting. Our goal is to surround each other with other positive black women and create a safe space for us to be ourselves and to be carefree. It is our hope that attendees will walk away with a renewed sense of purpose and a group of supporters, mentors and girlfriends to help them get there.

What informed your decisions to host this conference?

The main reason behind planning this conference was the immense need for it, especially here in the Bay Area. Personally, I was craving a safe space to connect with positive, like-minded black women and I couldn’t find one. I knew if I was looking for it, there had to be other women looking for this as well. Since there wasn’t another conference like this out there that already existed, I decided to create it!

You’ve chosen an array of women with unique backgrounds; what was the selection criterion for thepanelists and speakers?

Yes! Because the conference is for women of all ages, backgrounds and stages in their lives, we made sure our speakers reflected this as well. When planning for an inter generational audience, we wanted our speakers to also be inter generational so each attendee can see a speaker and relate to her. Our speakers span all ages, backgrounds and stages in their life from Sydel Curry-Lee who is 24 to Ms. Betty Reid Soskin who is 98 years old.

We also wanted speakers who were passionate about seeing other women succeed and who were also striving to be their best self. We chose the name, The Best Me, because we believe it applies to all women. Our hope is that we are always striving toward the best version of ourselves and as women, we are always evolving.

The conference is described as about, for and by Black women:  what do you see as critical in the conversation between Black women and why?

It was important for us to focus on Black women because so often Black women are forced to the background. Even in the context of “Women of Color”, Black women are often forgotten. We wanted a conference where Black women were at the forefront and celebrated. Representation matters and we wanted to make sure that black women were represented. As such, we made sure the conference was truly by Black women and for Black women. Our entire planning team, vendors and speakers are all Black women. Who better to speak our language, relate to us and help us grow than other Black women?

Clarity is the central theme as described on the outreach materials; how will lives improve following this conference? How and what perspectives will crystallize?  What transformation do you hope will evolve as a result of attending this conference?

When we say representation matters, I really do believe representation matters. Representation matters because it affects how we see ourselves, how we see other people and how we think about ourselves. Our aim is that women will walk away feeling inspired while gaining a clearer perspective on how to live their life to the fullest. We have curated conversations on creating a legacy for generations that come after us, leading authentically, advocating for what you believe in, embracing vulnerability and becoming your best self with the help of the women around you. While there are many paths one can take to living their best life, we hope these discussions will ignite the passion for women to either continue down their chosen path or create the path that leads them towards their best life.

How have you transformed as a result of planning this conference?

I have grown in more ways than I can count. I have always said The Best Me Conference is for all women, including myself. Planning this conference has forced me to become a better version of myself and reminds me daily to be the best me I can be. I’ve always known that representation matters, but planning this conference has reminded me of this and reinforced its importance. I have been reminded of the power that we as black women hold when we stand in unity. We can do anything when we stand together. This conference started as a vision and is now a reality. More than anything, it taught me that everything we want is on the other side of fear – everything want is on the other side of fear. Once I got over my fear of not feeling good enough, fear that I couldn’t pull this off and fear of failure, I realized I had everything I needed inside of me to be The Best Me. The Best Me Conference is for you, its for us, and it’s also for me.


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