MEMPHIS (TN Tribune) — More than 40 Black women who have been elected to public office are headed to Bluff City this week for a national conference focused on policies that empower Black women to lead and serve their communities.

The National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, also known as NOBEL Women, will host Black elected leaders from Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Florida, New York, Minnesota, Louisiana, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Alabama.

With the theme, “NOBEL Women Answering the Call: Breaking Glass Ceilings While Taking Our Seat at the Table,” organizers have also invited women in leadership at large companies and nonprofit organizations as well. The group will meet at the Hyatt Centric downtown.

Established in 1985 to increase the presence of Black women in state governments, NOBEL Women is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization primarily composed of Black women who are serving or have previously served in public office.

In celebrating its 36th annual legislative conference, the organization’s leaders have an eye on the future. Conference programming this year centers around expanding representation in leadership in public and private sectors, according to NOBEL Women President Karen Camper (D-Memphis), who also serves as the minority leader in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

“From the boardroom to Capitol Hill, we are unapologetic in advocating for the Black women who are driving change and innovation across the country,” Camper said. “Because we had to cancel our conference in 2020, there’s a lot of excitement and energy leading up this year’s gathering.”

Tennessee Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), a NOBEL Women officer who is also serving as the national conference chairwoman, says she is eager to showcase her hometown and some of the community’s inspiring leaders.

“NOBEL Women has always been a group that lifts up and seeks to inspire its members,” Akbari said. “I cannot wait for our members to experience the connectivity, passion and creativity growing throughout our city, with so much of it being driven by Black women.”

The NOBEL Women conference begins Thursday, Oct. 7 with programming though Sunday, Oct. 10. Sessions will cover COVID-19, workforce and small business development, healthcare, marijuana reform, and digital literacy.

Terri Jackson, the executive director of the WNBA Players Association, will address conference attendees on Friday night. The Women’s National Basketball Players Association works to protect the rights of players and assist them in achieving their full potential on and off the court.

On Saturday, NOBEL Women will present the organization’s Shining Star Award to Jotaka Eaddy, who founded the #WinWithBlackWomen social movement in 2020 and co-hosts the award-winning OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network Television series Speak Sis!, and Pastor Earle Fisher, the founder of #UPTheVote901 and the senior pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis.