“Phenomenal Women’ and ‘Honorary Men’ Eat Lunch at Barclay Villa”

by Aaron Thomas

This article appeared on the front page of the Angier Independent on May 2nd, 2006.

“We are all phenomenal women.”
That was the key message Dr. Barnsley Brown delivered to about 70 Angier and Dunn administrative professionals, most of them women, at the Barclay Villa Wednesday.

This was the 10th annual Administrative Professionals Luncheon, which was organized by the Angier Chamber of Commerce and Triangle South Enterprises/Central Carolina Community College-Small Business Center.

“Sometimes they (administrative professionals) go unappreciated and this is a way to thank them for what they do,” said Jamie Strickland, executive director for the Angier Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Barnsley Brown was hired by Nancy Blackman, director of Small Business Center-CCCC of Harnett County. Blackman said she was introduced to Brown by last year’s speaker, Denise Ryan.

“Dr. Brown put a lot of energy into it (her speech),” Blackman said. “Evaluations were excellent.”

The state small business center is allocated about $8,000 and the funds are split among the counties for things like marketing seminars or in this case a motivational speaker.

Brown’s speech focused on women as phenomenal people, many of whom have overcome abusive situations and risen to success like Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

“We are all phenomenal women,” Brown said. “We need to claim that and live our lives by using skills that demonstrate that.”

Brown’s start at motivational speaking began at a church when she was 15 years old.

“I had forgotten about it until a few years ago. So I do have some precedent,” she said.

Brown said women were all leaders and they should claim that and change the world.

She pointed out examples of servant leaders, a term found in business literature today, such as Jesus and Buddha.

Near the end of the interactive speaking event, Brown prompted attendees to take the action steps provided on a handout distributed before her presentation.

“I want people to commit and say, ‘Wow, I’m going to create my own mission statement,’” Brown said.

Brown’s biggest motivator for speaking came from her recent allergic reaction to possibly seafood, which forced her into the hospital for seven days undergoing numerous tests.

“The doctors didn’t know what was wrong,” she said. “I literally almost died.”

That, she said, was a defining moment in her life, and pushed her to do as many speaking events as she could.

Brown has spoken in the Triangle area. She did a training series with Applied Medical Systems of Durham and she regularly speaks in the small business system through community colleges.

“My reward is having people say they have something to take away,” Brown said. “I want to take the message of service everywhere.”

Brown also volunteers with Source Force, a non-profit organization that helps below-poverty people with cancer, HIV, and AIDS; and she also volunteers at the Orange County Women’s Center.

And behind the scenes, Strickland credited Sherri Conner of the Angier Chamber Board of Directors as the powerhouse behind organizing the event.

“Sherri was the driving force who organized it all and got the sponsors,” Strickland said.

“Everyone enjoyed being at Barclay Villa,” Conner said. “We have already secured the caterer and the Barclay Villa for next year.”

The biggest challenge, Conner said, was getting the word out farther.

“We had 50 attend last year and this year we had 70, so I expect the turnout to be even greater next year,” Conner said.

Conner and Strickland said they were both grateful to the sponsors.

The meal was catered by Frisco’s City Club in Dunn.

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