By: Mallory Murray
Photographs by: Amy Huang
Founded by women, organized by women, and designed for women, OWNIT is an annual one-day summit, aiming to connect college students with inspirational and professional women. OWNIT was founded at Georgetown in 2014 and has since spread to eight other college campuses nationwide. The day is dedicated to giving women a space to discuss what it is like to be a woman in different fields and bridge the gap between collegiate and professional life. Through speakers and panels, this completely student run operation attempts to cater to a variety of interests related to women’s empowerment and intersectional feminism. The OWNIT team describes the summit as seeking “to provide young women with an opportunity not just to see, but to learn from and connect with women who are living out leadership in a variety of fields and positions.”
After attending the summit last year and working as a volunteer this year, I wanted to step behind the scenes and gain some insider knowledge about how the summit is run. I sat down with two of this year’s co-chairs Sarah Clements and Sienna Mori to learn about their journey through organizing OWNIT. Check out this exclusive behind-the-scenes view into the OWNIT Summit:
Mallory Murray: Could you give us an inside perspective on how the summit is organized and run?
Sarah Clements: Something that I love is that the summit is completely student run by a team of about 20 women. Something interesting about this year was that we didn’t have a corporate sponsor so had to do a lot of grass roots fundraiser
Sienna Mori: Something that we are really trying to focus on is intentionality, or the idea of reaching out and reacting to feedback on how to improve the summit and cater to the attendees. For this year, we hosted interviews within Georgetown community in order to gauge what women in the community wanted to hear about and talk about. We directly discussed topics with the CSJ, the Women’s Center, GUSA, the Corp, the BRAVE Summit, and Bossier Magazine.
MM: How long did you all work on the summit?
SM: The co-chairs have been working since this summer.
SC: Right, and we’re already starting to plan for next year and reaching out to attendees for
MM: What was the most challenging aspect for each of you?
SC: For me it was the eternal problem of OWNIT: we only have one day and can never fit in all that we want to fit in so we have to pick and emphasis specific speakers, view points, and opinions. It becomes a personal and political decision. I ask myself: “Who’s voices are we lifting up? What type of message are we portraying this year?”
SM: I agree with Sarah. Our main goal is to create a day where no one is ostracized. We have to pick a theme to discuss and it’s never going to be tailored for everyone.
MM: What does OWNIT mean to you?
SM: Since day one, and I would say it’s held true, OWNIT has meant not only being a part of a group that inspires a large community but also being inspired yourself by being part of a truly incredible women. It’s been such a wonder surprise.
SC: I think the OWNIT Summit day means creating a space where for one day hundreds of powerful women can come together to imagine a world where our causes and our beliefs and our leadership matters can be taken seriously and compel us forward.
MM: Where do you see this summit headed into the future?
SM: Personally, I see it becoming more diverse. In terms of content and focused themes, I can see it reaching a wider crowd and audience.
SC: We haven’t found the right balance yet, but I see the Summit having a balance of topics and ideologies, a combo of breakout sessions and speakers that focused on careers but then also more general ideas like feminism and social issues. I think one of the most important things for the Summit going forward is to continue to remain relevant to the changing world.