The Empowerment Project Shuts Down Washington DC!

Hello everyone, welcome again to the thoughts and reflections of Alana’s brain. I am writing to you today about the adventures of The Empowerment Project in Washington, DC. When we first got to DC, the topic of this very blog post was brought up. We asked each other, alright who wants to do the DC post? I volunteered right away. I volunteered because DC has been a very different and interesting experience for me, and I figured those thoughts were worth sharing, so here goes.

Empowerment Project Alana DC

As far as the project goes Washington DC is where the tail end ramped up very quickly. We left Charlotte at 5am after a very late work night (I’m talking 2 or 3am lights out), It was a lovely nap though. Packed all of our bags up on top of the dewy wet car in the black dark morning. I had loved Charlotte’s truly dark nights until that morning. Luckily a fire truck and troop of police cars arrived just a few feet away, next door. Strobe lights are better than no lights when packing a car in the pitch-black right? Although, it was very difficult to appreciate the brain-rattling sirens.

Despite the alarming start (pun intended), there is something so magical about watching the sun peek up over the horizon on a silent road. There’s something even more magical about the adrenaline kick that no doubt consumed each of us as we considered silently where we were headed in the immediate few days in DC, and for years to follow having been a part of this project, this movement.

We were also like so super excited about having locked down an interview with a Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

The crew drove straight to the interview in Congresswoman Schakowsky‘s office, next door to the state Capitol building. Wowza that was exciting! I also have a brand new faith in how a scarf and a few bobby pins can fancy up a pair of run-ragged yoga pants and a t-shirt. I’m sure the other girls would agree.

Congresswoman Schakowsky’s interview was a magnificent one. Not only because of Jan’s inspiring story, but because we realized what we are capable of, just as our inspiring interviews had been teaching us to do. It was our most best shoot yet. We worked together absolutely seamlessly, each one of us fully anticipating the needs of the other and gracefully filling them without a second thought. We held our own perfectly professionally in the office of a congresswoman in Washington DC. If I had never known true teamwork before this, I now do. And what a gift that is. We were proud. I’m still proud of our team.

Empowerment Project Vanessa DC

The next day we got really girly really fast. We interviewed Lauren Rothman, a fashion stylist, in the decked out back offices at Bloomingdales and Saks 5th Ave. It was like someone opened one of those cartoon treasure chests and the golden light of wonder and play poured out onto all of us. It was certainly a fun day. By the end of Lauren Rothman’s interview we were all ready to update our closets and dress as the great women we want to be. What brilliant advice, it’s amazing how fresh and capable the right clothes can make you feel. Lauren’s interview made me feel just that. Also I snuck in a picture of me wearing $800.00 shoes, so that was fun.

Lauren Rothman

Empowerment Project/Lauren Rothman

Taking a team of 5 girls fully focused on Empowering Women and plopping them into the Arlington Cemetery’s Women In Military Service For America Memorial is the perfect storm for deep impact. And deep impact is what we all got. Admiral Michelle J. Howard anchored the room with grace, achievement, and possibility, the “You too can do great things” feeling. Her interview, the whole day touched each of us deeply, but the deepest was Sophie, our DC mentee. Sophie has an unbelievable story, lookout for her interview blog post once its up. For the purposes of this story its important to know that Sophie spent 5 years in service in the American military, and during that time 2 tours in Iraq. After the interview Sophie and Admiral Howard found a moment to talk, and the rest of us just watched in awe. There was not a dry eye in the house. It’s the type of moment that can’t quite be described in a blog post. But don’t worry we filmed it.

Michelle J Howard

Washington DC feels like history. If you squint you can see the crowds around the Lincoln Memorial, with each gust of wind you’re breathing in the full heart feeling of possibility, Power pulses like veins in the earth below your feet. DC is certainly a place with a presence.

For me DC was an incredible bonding experience with the other girls. I feel like we were forced to band together or fall apart, and we instinctively banded together. This only-child has just gained a few sisters, whether they know it or not.

Empowerment Project DC


  1. Wow, what a day, and with only 2-3 hours of sleep! You ladies are amazing! So glad you all were able to band together and help each other through it all! Shows true professionalism! So proud of all of you and can’t wait for the finished product!!!

  2. Pingback: Michelle Howard Becomes The 1st Four-Star Woman In US Navy History

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