Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce Kicks off Women’s History Month with Power of Women Luncheon

WILLIAMSBURG — The Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce kicked off Women’s History Month with the Power of Women Gala on March 1.

Women’s History Month was originally launched in 1978 as a week-long local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. In 1980, a mix of women’s groups and historians led the charge to recognize the event nationally. In February of that year, President Jimmy Carter signed a Presidential Proclamation to name the week of March 8, 1980 as Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress passed a law that designated March as National Women’s History Month.

Those in attendance at the Williamsburg luncheon heard from Connie Matthews Harshaw. Harshaw began her career in public service as a student employee at Newport News Shipbuilding in 1972. She attended Hampton University and the University of Maryland where she earned her B.S. in Business Management and an MBA. She became a Senior Executive Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and graduated in 1992.

She had a 30-year career with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards); NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA Headquarters in Washington, Air Force at Langley AFB; NIH National Cancer Institute; Army at Ft. Meade and Navy in Crystal City. Her last appointment, while a career civil servant, was with the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) as the Chief Operating Officer. During her tour with NCPC, she became the agency’s first female African-American SES. While at the Commission, she worked with the planners and architects to EXTEND THE LEGACY in the nation’s capital.

Locally, Harshaw is the President of the Let Freedom Ring Foundation, which aims to share the history of the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg.

TowneBank was the presenting sponsor of the event. Alexis Swann, President of TowneBank Peninsula and Williamsburg, introduced Harshaw.

“She’s a dynamic speaker, dynamic personality, and has an impressive background too and has a long career in public service. She’s not just from this area, she’s world-renowned,” Swann said.

Harshaw noted the importance of taking care of oneself while striving to meet goals and finding time to curate passions and hobbies.

“We are profoundly honored to have hosted an individual as inspiring as Connie Matthews Harshaw at our Power of Women event. Her discussion on the significance of being fearless in the pursuit of one’s goals and the importance of owning our personal power was transformative. Connie’s unwavering commitment to truth-telling resonated with us all and reminded us that integrity is the cornerstone of empowerment. At the Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce we are committed to Connie’s message, fostering an environment where women are encouraged to rise, lead, and pave the way for future generations,” Terry Banez, Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce CEO, said.

The event brought local business leaders together, but also included up-and-coming generations of women.

“We are thrilled that this event extended beyond the boundaries of the Greater Williamsburg area’s business community to incorporate Peninsula universities, high schools, sororities, and Girl Scouts. Connie inspired us to reach back for the younger generations and encourage them to find strength, truth, and justice in their life’s work. No matter how much or how little time each of us have left, we can make a difference,” said Kristin Baum, Chair, Women’s Business Council, Principle & Chairman, GuernseyTingle.

For more information on the Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce, visit

Related Articles