Fifth in-person LadyLike summit to be held on April 15

By Emily Kestel

LadyLike DSM co-founders Lindsey White and Deidre DeJear at the 2022 Lady Lake Summit. Photo courtesy of LadyLike DSM.

As Lindsey White stepped to the podium to give opening remarks at the 2022 LadyLike Summit, she took a deep breath and looked into the crowd. 

She saw the faces of 200 Black women, looking back at her. 

White immediately felt a sense of awe and pride. A whole room filled with Black women, in Des Moines. All because of a vision she had five years before. 

In 2016, White was looking to attend a women’s conference that focused on and featured Black women. She soon realized she would have to travel to Chicago, Atlanta or Houston to go to one. 

“Instead of investing my own money in somebody else’s thoughts and plans and community, it was like, I’m sure that there’s others here that need this as well. Why don’t we just try to create something here?” she said.

In April 2017, LadyLike DSM was born with a mission to empower Black women in the Des Moines metro area by offering opportunities for connecting, learning and supporting one another. 

“Being ladylike is not just about wearing pearls, wearing heels or having the right makeup. Being ladylike is about empowering oneself and supporting your community,” Shekinah Fountain, empowerment lead at LadyLike, said. 

Its signature event is a daylong conference in the spring that focuses on connecting Black women with each other, uplifting them and providing a safe space for them to be themselves. 

“It’s a really good time to get together with other Black women within the state to learn and grow and sharpen each other, not just personally but professionally,” Fountain said.

“You can just be yourself. No one is asking you some of the crazy questions that you may get while out in other spaces. … It doesn’t matter if your hair is straight or natural. You feel empowered. … You don’t have to do anything but exist. I think that’s a beautiful way to spend a Saturday.” 

The LadyLike PowHER Summit on April 15 this year will feature breakout sessions, a keynote speaker, a panel discussion and networking opportunities, as well as time to shop for products by Black women-owned small businesses. Organizers are expecting 300 people to attend.

Topics discussed throughout the event will include establishing wealth, staying healthy and work-life balance. 

This year, LadyLike is hosting an additional event on April 14 from 5 to 7 p.m., the evening before the summit, that’s open to everybody in the community who wants to learn about allyship and network with Black women. 

The Friday event will include a panel discussion featuring community leaders Helena Young, Nyra Bottley, Tiara Mays, Bridget Cravens-Neely and Teree Caldwell-Johnson, who will talk candidly about their experiences as Black women, as well as opportunities for shopping, White said. 

Tickets for the LadyLike PowHER Summit start at $50. Tickets for the LadyLike Ally event are donation-based.