Q&A with Jenny Terry, Speak to Me

Speak To Me kicks off their 2014-2015 season on October 28th with seven inspiring events spanning a wide range of relevant hot topics from empowering women, environment, health, and technology. I had a chance to talk to busy mom and co-founder, Jenny Terry, about the Speak to Me speaker series.

  Jenny Terry, Tracy Barsotti, Christina Forte

Jenny Terry, Tracy Barsotti, Christina Forte

How did you and Tracy meet?

We knew each other socially before having kids. We both lived and worked in San Francisco. Then we both had children, moved to Marin and joined the Bay Area Discovery Museum Council (BADM) together. During our time on the BADM, I chaired Goblin Jamboree and Tracy chaired the Winter Gala for three years. It was a great chance to work on each others fundraising events. We had such a great experience together because our skills complimented each other and our personalities clicked. We knew we would enjoy and work well together. We were confident in each others ability to jump in and do what it takes to get the job done. 

 Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big:Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message

Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big:Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message

How did you come up with the idea for Speak to Me?

It came out of a need that Tracy and I had. We wanted more intellectual stimulation; especially with our children coming out of the baby stage. We both had a growing stack of books next to our bedside on topics we wanted to get up to speed on but never had the time for. We were going to events like the Marin Speaker Series which is a fantastic series but the topics were not always something we could directly apply to our lives right away. Plus, there was not a lot of opportunity to make make a night out of it. There is no reception before or after to mingle and talk about what we heard. It's a room with 2000 people so I didn't feel comfortable raising my hand. There is not the sense of community, connection or intimacy that we were looking for. 

As busy moms, being surrounded by great women and attending other speaker events, Tracy and I decided to explore this concept together. Our idea is to gather women together in a way where they can be inspired, get informed and up to speed on topics that we do not always have time to think about, have an intellectual and stimulating conversation in a meaningful way on topics that we can apply to our lives now, and take some much needed time out for ourselves. There were a lot things we were trying to do that we felt were missing. Speak to Me is successfully filling that void.

  Ken Cook, T oxic Bodies: The Unhealthy Truth & What We Can Do To Protect Ourselves

Ken Cook, Toxic Bodies: The Unhealthy Truth & What We Can Do To Protect Ourselves

Why create a speaker series designed for women?

At first, we thought it was going to be a conference on the weekend. We started holding some focus groups with our target market, which was a cross section of women in the Bay Area. It became clear that a conference was not what moms wanted because they are so busy with kids activities on the weekends that a weekend conference is the last thing that would work into their schedule. A speaker series made more sense for them. 

Then we did some quantitative research with 100 women to refine what came out of the initial focus groups. We constantly tweak the program according to the feedback we get to get a sense of what people would like. We do research throughout the season to find out what topics our audience wants, what works and what doesn’t, and use that to make our events better.

 Jim Steyer, Digital Generation: How Technology is Shaping Our Youth

Jim Steyer, Digital Generation: How Technology is Shaping Our Youth

How do you choose the speakers?

It's an art and science. We collect ideas and suggestions from many sources, a lot of research, follow trends, and watch the news. We think of the speakers we want, collect ideas, and we get a lot of suggestions and requests to speak. Every year we do a review and come up with a criteria for that season based on trends and topics we think will resonate with our audience. All of the speakers we choose are the top experts in their field and "thought leaders" in their area. They have to be articulate public speakers that are compelling, inspiring, and relatable. At the end of each event, we want to make sure the speakers leave our audience with fantastic information so they are fired up and feel like they can go out and make a different today. We are really close to our consumer and focused on what will WOW them. That’s what were trying to achieve. 

  Iris Krasnow,  Secret Lives of Women:Thriving At Every Stage of Life 

Iris Krasnow, Secret Lives of Women:Thriving At Every Stage of Life 

Describe to me what someone who attends a Speak to Me event can expect?

We have two types of events this season - 4 evening events and 3 lunch & learn. The evening event includes a reception style food and wine tasting event with 250 women held at the Mill Valley Community Center starting at 6:30pm. Evening events also have free raffles and giveaways. The lunch & learn series is a more intimate sit down lunch with 60-80 at Piatti Restaurant in Mill Valley at 11:30am.

Attendees can expect a they’ll have the opportunity to get educated on a relevant and meaningful topic, to connect with other women in the community, get inspired, take time out for themselves, enjoy delicious food and wine tasting, sometime we have local artisans selling their merchandise and mainly, we just want women to have some fun. It’s a great welcoming environment and gives women a much needed break from their busy lives. 

A lot of women sign up for the series with a few girlfriends and have 4 nights out and/or 3 lunches on the calendar planned where they are going out with their friends and they know everything is taken care of, have some great conversation to discuss and share with others after the event. These topics really stay with you and it’s something you cannot stop talking about.

Our goal is to positively effect your life with the knowledge you gain. Hopefully you walk out the door and do something different from something you learned. We know the women in our community are such a powerful force. By helping busy women stay informed, inspired and taken care of, we help them go out and share their wisdom and talents. That make our community stronger.

From the lunch & learn series you can expect a lot of the same benefits from the content. Everyone has a different schedule so we’re trying to make opportunities available for as many women as we can.  Additionally, you can purchase a video of the event if you are unable to attend. 

 Leah Kelley, M.D., Breast Cancer in Marin:The Myths, the Facts, and the Science

Leah Kelley, M.D., Breast Cancer in Marin:The Myths, the Facts, and the Science

Can you tell me about the 2014-2015 series?

For the 4 evening events we have:

 October 28 Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message with Tara Sophia Mohr, expert on women’s leadership and the implementation of practical skills to make real change in oneself and the world and creator of the acclaimed Playing Big leadership program for women.

 January 27 Toxic Bodies: The Unhealthy Truth & What We Can Do To Protect Ourselves, with Ken Cook, President and co-founder of Environmental Working Group focused on protecting human health and the environment and the creator of the online consumer database Skin Deep. 

 March 10 Digital Generation: How Technology is Shaping Our Youth with Jim Steyer, CEO and Founder of Common Sense Media.

 April 28 Secret Lives of Women: Thriving At Every Stage of Life with Iris Krasnow, expert in the field of relationships, personal growth and “female generational angst" and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Oprah and CNN.

For the 3 lunch & learn events we have:

 November 13 Breast Cancer in Marin: The Myths, the Facts, and the Science with Leah Kelly, Breast and Gynecologic Surgeon at Marin General Hospital.

 November 20 Work and Flexibility: Why Women Will Lead the Way with Katrina Alcorn, author of “Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink” and Stacey Brooks DeloFounder, Maybrooks.com.

 April 2 What's Happening to Me? Hormones & Other "Taboo” with K. Jennifer Voss, MD, Chair of Department of OB/GYN at Marin General Hospital and Sujatha D. Pathi, MD, Urogynecologist at Marin General Hospital.

  Katrina Alcorn and Stacey Brooks Delo,  Work and Flexibility: Why Women Will Lead the Way

Katrina Alcorn and Stacey Brooks Delo, Work and Flexibility: Why Women Will Lead the Way

Who are the key people at Speak to Me?

Tracy has stepped back to focus on other pursuits, but is still involved as a strategic advisor, Christina Forte is our Chief Marketing & Business Strategy Officer. We have a team of part time contracted moms. Kennedy Events manages our events on-site. We are excited to be featuring some of our favorite female chefs & artisans this season.  The talented Nicole Kollock of Savory Pear, and Elana Turchon at Sweet-E Organic will delight and treat us at our evening series events, and Toffee Talk will share their sweetness at our Lunch & Learn events.  We will also be welcoming back the many incredible wineries from The Wine Road of Sonoma County.

We are also proud of our charitable partners Marin Charatable and Educate our State and we also support fundraisers for the local schools. 

  K. Jennifer Voss, MD and   Sujatha D. Pathi, MD,  What’s Happening to Me? Hormones & Other “Taboo” Topics

K. Jennifer Voss, MD and Sujatha D. Pathi, MD, What’s Happening to Me? Hormones & Other “Taboo” Topics

What’s next for Speak to Me?

I hope the Speak to Me events are around for a long time and continue to support the great women in our community.