Actress Gabrielle Union-Wade at the National Basketball Wives Associations 2019 Women’s Empowerment Summit on Feb. 16, 2019.

I didn’t know what to expect. As I sat in a room filled with ladies of the National Basketball Wives Association (NBWA) and their powerful sister-friends at the 2nd Annual Women’s Empowerment Summit during the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend, all I could think was how anything they would say could relate to the everyday woman. Surely, your problems can’t look like mine when you have resources and influence, right?

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles (left) with TV personality Gayle King. Photo courtesy of Mayor Vi Lyles

But I could see myself reflected in their talks. Here are my three takeaways from the star-studded panels:

Balance is Bulls&!* – Shannon Allen

That truth was spoken by Shannon Allen — creator/CEO of Grown Restaurants and wife of NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen — during the Evolution of Women in Business panel.

How many times have you been asked, “How do you balance it all?” I get that question every single day.

My life in the QC includes being Qcitymetro’s managing editor, a partner to my husband, a volunteer on several community boards, a friend to a circle of people who have my back…and the list goes on. Depending on the day, I can make juggling responsibilities look easy. But, when Allen said women are “expected to produce the best results and those who usually misses out is us,” I felt that.

Y’all, there are days I just fail at adulting.

It’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older because I’ve learned that perfection isn’t the end goal, my peace is.

Author, chef and restaurateur Ayesha Curry (wife of Charlotte native and NBA Champion Steph Curry) summed it up perfectly, “Finding my balance is protecting my peace.”

(l to r): Ayesha Curry, Clerenda McGrady, Sandra L. Richards, Shannon Allen and Baron Davis at the National Basketball Wives Association 2019 Women Empowerment Summit on Feb. 16. Photo: Qcitymetro

Part of empowerment is to create a safe space – Gabrielle Union-Wade

It got real candid when actresses Gabrielle Union-Wade and La La Anthony took the stage.

“You can create so much magic when inclusion is involved,” said Union-Wade, who’s married to my hometown favorite player, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade.

In this context, they spoke from a time when they felt like outsiders within basketball wives. But, it made me think of how much further businesses could get with more collaboration over competition. I love to see people win, and more opportunities have come from being a resource to others rather than trying to dim their light.

Actress, author and beauty mogul La La Anthony (wife of NBA player Carmelo Anthony) speaks during the National Basketball Wives Association’s 2019 Women’s Empowerment Summit. Photo: Qcitymetro
Actress, author and beauty mogul La La Anthony (wife of NBA player Carmelo Anthony) speaks during the National Basketball Wives Association’s 2019 Women’s Empowerment Summit. Photo: Qcitymetro

You need to see it to believe it – Valeisha Butterfield Jones

My favorite session included a fireside chat with Valeisha Butterfield Jones — Google’s global head of women and black engagement — and Debra Lee — former Chairman/CEO of BET Networks.

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I’ll never get tired of saying that Representation Matters. They spoke about what it meant to be bold and fearless in spaces where you may be the minority, particularly why black women are needed on corporate boards and in the C-Suite.

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The highlight of the afternoon was a conversation with Jada Pinkett Smith. If you’ve watched her ‘Red Table Talk‘ web series, then you have an idea of what it was like to sit in the audience. Even ESPN’s Cari Champion — who moderated the discussion that touched on self-love, self-care and being authentic — had to take a minute after the talk to let it sink in.

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Katrina Louis is managing editor of who can always find something to do in Charlotte. She’s an offline hustler (and has the shirt to prove it) but when online, find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Katrina covers Charlotte's Black business scene for QCity Metro. She's a Miami transplant, pescatarian and lover of the arts. She earned a public relations degree from the University of Florida. Got a...