ICYMI: Made Mavens Leadership Summit

Access + Artist Development + Collaboration

ICYMI: Made Mavens Leadership Summit

ICYMI: MADE Maven Leadership Summit

Donda’s House participated in the inaugural Made Maven Leadership Summit, organized and presented by Made Magazine, and sponsored by BMW. We are proud to say that we had six representatives from our Donda’s House family in attendance including both staff and volunteers. The themes for the weekend were professional sisterhood, vulnerability, transparency and practicality. The session leaders were not only motivational, they offered specific recommendations on processes and tools. The session leaders were also experts in their respective fields, with proven track records of success.

Caption: Robin Ayers interviews Ranada Shepherd.

The summit included a kick-off party at Virgin Hotels, with sounds by DJ Protege, hosted by “The Jam’s” Felicia Lawrence. In addition to incredible performances from talented women artists, Christal Luster, Taylor Iman, Gifted Keys, and Yanna Cello guests were able to sample Chicago French Press. Chicago French Press is a social enterprise that supports non-profit organizations, including Donda’s House!


Caption: Donda’s House Executive Director, Donnie Smith with Angela Stevens, Celebrity Hairstylist, Author and MADE Maven Panelist. 

On Sunday, the day started with the Connections Breakfast featuring a conversation between Robin Ayers and Ranada ShepardRanada was radically vulnerable as she described her experiences starting as an intern with the Edmonds (Babyface) Family and now a media mogul in the world of film & television. The audience laughed and leaned in, as we learned more about the world of acting, producing and screenwriting. 

Caption: Val Warner’s Free by Val Warner Clothing Line Launch 

Vendors that provide products and services for women of color were well represented selling beauty products, apparel and unique stationary. Some of the women who were represented as panelists and session leaders also sold their products, including Val Warner, who launched her new Val Free Clothing Line called Free by Val Warner and Angela Christine, who recently launched a new children’s book called Hair! There was something for every woman in the Made Maven Leadership Summit “mall.”

Caption: Our ED, Donnie leading a non-profit Session at MADE Maven. 

Our Executive Director, Donnie Smith, presented a session called “Get InFormation: Starting and Growing a 501 (c) 3 Foundation” where she provided insight and best practices for how to turn your idea of social impact, into a living and breathing organization. After the breakout sessions, all conference attendees united for a powerhouse panel, moderated by Val Warner and featuring Halleemah Nash, Chief Partnerships Officer of The Academy Group, Karleen Roy, Experience Curator of The Vanity GroupAngela Stevens, Celebrity Hair Stylist and Author of Hair and the founder of the Made Maven Leadership Summit, MADE Magazine and serial entrepreneur of FAME Enterprises Kris Christian. The women explored questions around how women can better support each other, social media personas vs. real life and other powerful reflections as Black Women Business Owners.

Caption: Structured Mentoring on Virgin Hotels Rooftop. 

The conference ended with structured mentoring on Virgin Hotels stunning rooftop, where session leaders and panelists were paired up with attendees in order to have a more intimate, deeper dive. We were on top of the world, in more ways than one! This was also the opportunity to shop with additional vendors and to follow up. The selfies were taken, the hugs were given and the drinks were flowing! Kevin Williams of BMW USA, discussed the importance of safe spaces for women and the power of women collaborating with and learning from each other. The audience was in agreement that MADE Mavens should continue, expand to other cities, and the feeling in the air was that this was only the beginning! 

Caption: Donda’s House Volunteer LaJoy Robinson, poses for a picture in between sessions. 

This week, we will be sharing some of the resources, quotes, and recommendations from the conference. Please check out our website daily for updates! #mademaven #dondashouse #womenofexcellence #MMLS #chicago #mademavens #mademagazine