Yahoo! Groups' Phenomenal Women
You can meet virtually, hundreds of professional women of color who are on a mission to build, motivate and create a legacy for themselves, their children and the Sisterhood. The Phenomenal Woman Group compels one to want to build friendships. We come together to support and help one another through whatever situation arises.
Everybody must have heard about Phenomenal Women by now -- the amazing sisterhood that is sweeping the nation, and beyond. I’m about to fill you in on what all the buzzing is about.
I first encountered Phenomenal Women when a friend of mine sent me a little invitation via e-mail saying, “You are invited to join the Phenomenal Women Group!” Usually, I don’t join these online groups because I just don’t have the time. But because I know this is an exceptionally cool Sister who’s all about love, business and no nonsense, I felt I’d better check it out. Well, if I have ever been gifted by a friend in my life, it was the day I received that invitation. And I owe it to our readers to share this unparalleled resource of positive energy and love. Phenomenal Women will not be one of those “best kept secrets”. I caught up with Michelle Mitchell, Founder of Phenomenal Women, who cheerfully shared with BSN what makes the group extraordinary:
BSN: Thank you for taking the time to discuss Phenomenal Women with us, Michelle.
Mitchell: It’s my pleasure, Brenda. I am happy to share this information.
BSN: So Michelle, let’s start from the beginning. Please tell us what compelled you to come up with the concept of Phenomenal Women?
Mitchell: I was making my rounds in the networking arena and I noticed that when attending these events, although there were men and women attendees, the majority of the participants were approaching males. Most people who participate in those events go right up to the brother in the three-piece suit. Even when walking down the street, I noticed that Brothers would give each other the “Hello” nod. But we sisters would walk right by each other with our noses up in the air, or just not acknowledging each other at all. I just got fed up. I felt this behavior needed to stop. So, I created the Yahoo! Group forum, Phenomenal Women. I think we women are amazing and unstoppable, given the right motivation and encouragement.
BSN: How long has Phenomenal Women been in existence?
Mitchell: The Phenomenal Group was created on Yahoo! Groups in December of 2004. The forum is run by Chanda Lee Reaves who is the List Moderator, Esther Ayo, the Official Member Liaison and Moderator and myself. We have recently created a new division of Phenomenal Women – a meet-up portal, founded in March, 2006. It is a service of Meetup.com. Phenomenal Women Meetups are run by Phenomenal Women Group Member and Assistant Organizer, Jewel Mitchell, aka “Phaeosister.”
BSN: How many members did you have when you started out and how many do you have now?
Mitchell: When we started, we had 7 members. Most were my friends who were just helping to support my mission. Today, we have 1400 women of color -- women from all over the country. New York alone accounts for 25% of the Phenomenal Women population.
BSN: What are the topics Phenomenal Women find most stimulating?
Mitchell: A lot of women ask for career advice and referrals and there are a lot of professionals who belong to Phenomenal Women or look in on the forum, who offer advice and referrals. Women post job openings nationwide. We also talk child rearing, what it is to be a female business owner, what we can do to develop and grow our businesses, we talk about books, authors, baby mama drama, being cheated on, political issues. If it is a life question, we cover it. We laugh; we cry; we teach; we learn.
BSN: Is Phenomenal Women for Women of Color only, or can any woman join?
Mitchell: Most of the issues we engage in focus on Women of Color, but we welcome all phenomenal women.
BSN: Are men restricted from joining in on the forums?
Mitchell: Yes! It’s funny, though. The men try to participate anyway. Everyday we have two or three men trying to access our forum. I guess they need to know what we are up to. When I am alerted by a concerned Group member that there is a man lurking, I courteously advise him that the Group is for women only and I inform him that I have created another group just for the Brothers called, “Phenomenal Man”. Then, I direct him to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ThePhenomenalMan.
BSN: Michelle, please share with us the benefits of being a Phenomenal Woman.
Mitchell: You can meet virtually, hundreds of professional Women of Color who are on a mission to build, motivate and create a legacy for themselves, their children and the Sisterhood. The Phenomenal Women Group compels one to want to build friendships. We come together to support and help one another through whatever situation arises.
BSN: The heroic intervention of the "Phenoms" during Hurricane Katrina was evidence that Phenomenal Women is not just the name of a group. Phenomenal Women live up to the name in every way. I witnessed the gallantry, generosity and bravery of the Phenomenal Women as they banded together throughout the nation to help during Hurricane Katrina. Many Phenomenal Women actually went to the disaster sites to help out. Please share.
Mitchell: Yes. In fact, a few of our Phenoms lived in the devastated areas and were stricken by Katrina. We pooled our information and resources together in an effort to get help to the ladies in the Group. Sisters and families who were lost, we communicated relentlessly through our network, working through the American Red Cross and through the Phenomenal Women network to find our Sister Phenoms and pray for those whose families were separated and missing. Thank God, everybody has been reunited, to my knowledge.
BSN: I also observed Phenomenal Womens’ intervention during other disasters going on within the group.
Mitchell: We are an extended family of one; meaning, if we see a need; whether you feel you need the help or not, we are there for you to the best of our ability.
BSN: How does one become a member of Phenomenal Women?
Mitchell: Phenomenal Women just seem to find each other. So far, everyone on the Group list and Event list is a good fit.
BSN: Is there anything more you would like to share with our readers?
Mitchell: Yes. I’d like to talk about the Phenomenal Women Meetups. Before we joined Meetups.com, Phenoms would get together locally at different venues throughout New York City. We attended a beautiful Gospel Brunch at the famous Ashford and Simpson’s Sugar Bar on West 72nd Street in Manhattan, we had dinner at the delicious Amy Ruth’s in Harlem on 116th Street. Then, we brought all of our New York City local events to Meetup and created a group under Social Networking in the Meetup.com society. Our first event was Bowling at Harlem Lanes. Then we met at the 9th Annual Livable West Side Festival where we had a wonderful time. We recently had a Phenomenal Women’s “Diva Day”, where we enjoyed free jazz and reasonably priced Italian cuisine. Sarah McLawler performed her timeless jazz and later on, we had dinner at a local Italian restaurant.
On Friday, July 14th at 6:00 pm, we are having a Phenomenal Women Networking Mixer at a lounge, to have a “Getting To Know You” networking mixer for all of us Phenomenal Women. All other women groups are welcome to come and schmooze with us.
If you are a women’s group and would like to attend and distribute your information during our July 14th event, please e-mail us at email@example.com. There is no cost to anyone for this event and there is a free buffet from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. 2 for 1 drink special for all the Phenomenal ladies from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. This is all about female empowerment and networking, ladies. Walk with your business cards, phone book and pen, ladies. We will have name tags, networking exercises and a getting-to-know-you introduction session.
BSN: Wow! I know I’m going to be there! Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to share this extraordinary movement with us. It has truly been a pleasure talking with you and I’m so happy to be a Phenomenal Woman myself.
Mitchell: The pleasure is mine, Brenda. We are happy to have you in the Group and we look forward to growing and winning together.
In tribute to my friend and Phenomenal Sister who turned me on to Phenomenal Woman last year, I' conclude by announcing her slogan: "It's All About Luv!"
To learn more about the Phenomenal Women or to find out how you can become a member, e-mail all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Brenda Jeanne Wyche, Advocate for Solutions and Results ©2006 is Managing Editor for The Black Star News and Harlem Business News and CEO of Winning Strategies & Associates, a public relations company in New York City. If you have a solution, contact Brenda@blackstarnews.com . Maybe we’ll talk.
To subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to Milton@blackstarnews.com