My Morning with Chelsea Clinton

Yesterday morning I sat at a table of brilliance. Hosted by e51 at HQ Raleighe51 was able to bring Chelsea to Raleigh after Heather McDougall wrote a letter to Hillary’s campaign describing the amazing work of women innovators in the Triangle.

The panel featured Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, and included:

  • Brooks Bell, moderator (Founder Brooks Bell, the premier firm focused exclusively on enterprise-level testing, personalization and optimization services. / Co-Founder HQ Raleigh, a co-working space for high-growth, high-impact startups),
  • Isa Watson (Founder Envested, a social network giving platform)
  • Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy (President Shaw University / Co-Founder Tea & Honey Blends),
  • Me, Katie Wyatt (Co-founder Kidznotes and Executive Director El Sistema USA)
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As we waited backstage for the event to begin, I watched friends and supporters pile into a happily-crowded HQ Raleigh. An incredible cross-section of our community gathered for a conversation about possibility – and the questions came from young minds and old.

Chelsea was gracious and inspiring, affable and funny. She described her mother’s platform with the passion of a daughter and the experience of a public policy guru. The premise was Women and Innovation in Technology, with my voice bringing to the conversation access to leading a creative, passion-driven life. One of the audience questions that stuck with me was about the power of teams; which of course brought to my mind the power of the orchestra to unite disparate voices as one. Chelsea spoke eloquently about the strength of teams lying in their shared values and goals, and that without an agreed-upon direction or focus, we are bound to fall into conflict and loss. A 7-year-old girl and future entrepreneur asked Chelsea, “when you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?” Chelsea shared a beautiful story of the role that wonder and curiosity played in her life as she looked to the heavens, imagining flying among the stars, with dreams of becoming an astronaut.

With the shared experience of many of the women in the room, we as the panel introduced ourselves and shared our start-up efforts, revealing what it was about starting-up that scared us. For Brooks it was the flip side of the joy of being a job creator – to now own the great responsibility of a company of 40 bread-winners who depend on her leadership to support their families. For me it was jumping into the deep end of business development with nothing but music degrees and auditions behind me, and the words of wisdom my teacher shared that helped me realize that my years of practice, discipline, wordless empathy through music, and sacrifice were what had prepared me for exactly this moment.

In this time of great political noise and conflict, this morning felt more like unfettered potential and hope. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it. Thank you to Chelsea Clinton for the huge shout out about Kidznotes’ instrument drive, (we’d even love your Dad’s sax!) and for taking time to meet our Raleigh community. Thank you to Heather McDougall and e51 for bringing us together!

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