“I’m a very Proud Latina, and I will never give that up…I will never be ashamed of where I came from.” Vanessa tells it like it is. Vanessa also has an edgier side to her as evidenced by her request for some Cardi B. when we asked her what kind of music playlist she wanted. These are just two of the many reasons why I adore Vanessa, and I’m not alone. Sporting bright red lipstick and a fiery yet humble tone, Vanessa captivated our largest Voice and Visibility Salon audience with her story last Wednesday at our Burns Court Studio.

Born in Venezuela and raised in Miami, by a single mother, Vanessa recalled pivotal moments from her childhood like translating for her mother at CVS to ensure she got the correct medicine at the tender age of 7. A bright and eager student, Vanessa said no one in her family went to college, and her high school didn’t have the resources to assist her in pursuing college applications and scholarships, so she did it all herself. She researched schools and scholarships around the clock and victoriously got herself accepted and enrolled at Florida International University. She graduated from FIU and showed the same determination to get herself into Stetson Law School. Vanessa shared that she struggled to make ends meet while in school, and often found herself eating pop tarts out of the trunk of her car so she had enough money for books and tuition (In case you’re wondering, they were Strawberry Pop Tarts…I asked, your welcome).

Vanessa successfully completed law school and then married her Dutch Husband Maurice. She began practicing immigration law in Bradenton, Florida and was one of the few bilingual attorneys working with a growing Hispanic Community in the region, so her phone was ringing off the hook. Vanessa praises the judges and colleagues she worked with in Manatee County, and said one judge let her come to the courtroom with her firstborn daughter, Madison, in a Baby Bjorn. She set up a playpen in her office, and her secretaries would often watch Madison while she was litigating –those are some high level working mama boss moves. Vanessa epitomizes a “whatever it takes” philosophy and tenacity to achieve success. Vanessa also shared a very warm maternal side with our audience stating that Familia means everything to her. Vanessa and Maurice are raising 4 children, 3 dogs, have busy careers and community projects, and continue to eat dinner together every evening. “My family knows that we eat together at the table every single night. We laugh, debate, tell stories, have fun and keep this tradition a top priority, even if it’s 10:00pm at night when we sit down, we are together as a family.”

Vanessa’s truth-telling is what our guests connected with so naturally. Throughout her self-made journey, Vanessa learned the importance of having a “tribe”. Her last slide read,

We are so grateful to have Vanessa in our expanding Voice & Visibility Tribe!

I begin the Voice & Visibility Series with remarks to ensure guests know the purpose and vision of our work. It’s important to me that diverse female leaders know that they can “come as they are” to these networking and women’s empowerment events. If you are crushing it, questioning it, walking away from it, about to launch it, or leading it…you belong here. We belong here together. As leaders, and truth tellers, I  believe we can and must have the capacity to be vulnerable and powerful…and most of all truthful.

Last Wednesday, it was a combination of Vanessa’s inspiring story, our kinda rockstar playlist, a diverse audience that included leaders from Unidos Now, Visible Men Academy, The Ringling, Entrepreneurs, Philanthropists, Artists and Small Business Owners that made every woman in that room believe they were a SHERO. The sisterhood can do mighty things when we unite. See images here from our event:

Here is a sneak peek of our interview with Vanessa for our documentary film project with FAMA Productions:

We can empower one another with our stories.
We can expand networks and opportunities by asking for what we want and need.
We can elevate the stories of diverse women by listening and sharing their triumphs.

Thank you Vanessa. Thank you to our Voice & Visibility Guests. Thank you to our Diversity and Inclusion Partners. Thank you to our Sponsors including our first Corporate Sponsor Tervis!



 SRP, LLC Updates:

We’ve been busy at SRP, LLC the last couple of months focusing on business development and strategic partnerships. See below a couple of our top announcements:

  • SRP, LLC is thrilled to announce a new media partnership with Girl Risinghttps://girlrising.org more updates on the horizon!
  • We are showcasing Visible, A Multicultural Art Exhibit at this year’s Burns Court Chalk Festival 4/5-7, Please come by and enjoy our exhibit of emerging artists as you enjoy the Chalk Festival.
    • April 5th: 5-7pm
    • April 6th: 12-5pm
    • April 7th: 12-5pm
  • I received the Entrepreneur of the Year, the single most meaningful Award of my career last weekend from Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce. I’m so honored and inspired to work with MBCC advancing innovation and wealth creation.
  • Our online SRP, LLC Boutique is now openhttps://voiceandvisibilitywomenssummit.com/boutique/Purchase art from our diverse and talented artists. Please note we have over 10 nonprofit agencies we partner with in Manatee and Sarasota. We welcome art investors to purchase pieces and have SRP, LLC  assist them in identifying a perfect home for the work!
  • We will be at the “Know Your Worth” Conversation on Gender Advocacy in the Workplace at Ringling College on Saturday 3/30 from 9:30-1 presented by the Women’s Resource Center, Register Here for Free: MyWRC.org/Worth.
  • Our Next Voice & Visibility Speaker is Tomeika Hunter-Koski. A former Army Veteran, Teacher and now Global Philanthropist working on initiatives locally and in Mozambique, please purchase your tickets now  https://voiceandvisibility2019tomeikahunterkoski.eventbrite.com.
  • Save the Date: Voice & Visibility Women’s Ambassador Luncheon 9/17/19 at Michael’s on East, A Celebration of Diverse Female Leaders in Sarasota & Manatee. Tickets on Sale in June here on our website.
  • Drum Roll please…Save the Date: Inaugural Voice & Visibility Women’s Summit 2/4/20 more details coming soon!

Things are picking up and as Cardi B. would say, “I Like it Like That”

Here’s to Progress,

Cardi B., by Clifford McDonald
Available on our boutique! https://voiceandvisibilitywomenssummit.com/product/cardi-b/

Shannon Rohrer-Phillips, LLC (SRP, LLC) is a unique social impact agency committed to creating diversity and inclusion solutions that yield Visibility, Opportunities, and Impact! SRP, LLC produces events, media content, and strategies in the Philanthropic, Media/Arts and Business Sector. We offer strategic consulting work to a select group of clients.

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