UCLA Anderson’s Women’s Business Connection (WBC) presented Barbra Streisand with the 2019 Velocity Award in recognition of her extraordinary achievements as an artist and philanthropist dedicated to raising awareness of many of the most pressing issues of our day.

Kayla Carpenter, Erica Wood, Barbra Streisand, Julie Ortega
Kayla Carpenter, Erica Wood, Barbra Streisand, Julie Ortega

Streisand is the first recipient of this award, presented at UCLA Anderson’s 7th annual Velocity women’s summit, which this year brought together more than 600 dynamic female business leaders, UCLA Anderson faculty, current MBA students and alumni. The day-long event celebrated women’s leadership and success, and explored how women develop momentum in their careers and proactively address challenges. This year’s sold out conference was held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

The multi-talented star observed, "During the midterms, my friend Nancy Pelosi was demonized. But as she has shown, you don’t give up. It’s what you do with your voice and your opinions that matters. I’m gratified that more and more women are rooting for each other’s success these days, thinking of themselves as part of a sisterhood and recognizing our common goals. We’re much more powerful when we stick together and support each other. The world needs more women in positions of power. Women are nurturers, just by our physiology. We come from the heart, and our instinct for love and compassion is something that this chaotic world needs now, more than ever. Women have a unique vision of our future and we need it not just in business but also for the sake of the planet… and our health.

“Nothing’s easy! But… nothing’s impossible, and that became the tagline on my Yentl poster. When one door closes, another opens, so you just have to keep going until you find the right door. Directing was actually the easy part. And I discovered something… when you have power, it’s very humbling. And you have a responsibility to use it with restraint. I tried to create an atmosphere on the set where everyone would feel empowered… free to have opinions. I think people do their best work when they feel respected and know that their voices are heard.”

“We are so proud to recognize Ms. Streisand with our inaugural award,” said WBC vice president Julie Ortega (’19), who presented the honor. “She is such a phenomenal inspiration to women, excelling in every possible way professionally, pushing herself to be the very best at all she undertakes, then giving back so generously — not only financially, but with her time and many talents. The theme of our conference this year is Be Bold. Ms. Streisand is the perfect role model in that spirit: courageous, confident and committed to speaking out on issues important to her.”

Ms. Streisand closed her speech with a ringing challenge:
“So where do we go from here? The hill is steeper for us than it is for men. It’s even steeper for women of color. The challenges are real, and so are the barriers. We can’t control the external obstacles, but we can control our own achievements and preserve our own dignity. So, don’t wait decades to believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to use your voice to ask for what you want and question those who say “no.” Be bold… Don’t be afraid to express your opinions. And don’t be afraid to be afraid… it’s natural. I often experience it myself. But always keep your mind open. Be generous of heart and spirit… And don’t apologize for any of it. Good luck, have fun, and thank you!"

In addition to the Velocity Award presentation, the conference featured keynote remarks from: Maya Shankar, Google’s global head of behavioral science and founder and former chair of the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team; Valorie Kondos Field, longtime head coach of UCLA Women’s Gymnastics; and Alli Webb, founder of Drybar.

Panels and breakout sessions at the conference covered a variety of topics, including women in male-dominated industries and in digital entertainment, with contributions from: Gail Becker, founder and CEO of CAULIPOWER and Vegolutionary Foods; Carla Anderson Skogland, director of HR finance at Amazon; Isaura S. Gaeta, VP of security research and general manager of Intel product assurance and security at Intel Corporation; Pamela Allison (‘00), director of digital partnerships at Warner Bros.; Kiran Sachdeva, director of digital products at NBCUniversal; and Meaghan Wilson, director of digital production at HBO.
A panel with entrepreneurs included Felicia Alexander (’05), co-founder of BoxUnion; Jessica Iclisoy, founder and CEO of California Baby; and Sarah Valdovinos (’01), co-founder of Walden Green Energy.

“With this day, UCLA Anderson celebrates the momentum that women are building to create a more equitable world with equal opportunities for men and women, especially in positions of leadership,” said Alfred E. Osborne, UCLA Anderson’s interim dean and professor and faculty director of the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “With all the impressive advances that women made in 2018 — the ‘year of the woman’ — the World Economic Forum still predicts it will take 108 years to reach overall gender equality. That’s unacceptable. We need to increase the ‘velocity’ of change. That’s what this conference is all about.”

Sponsors of this year’s Velocity conference included: Beth Friedman (’87), founder of inher circle LLC; the Streisand Foundation; and SoCal Gas.

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