Maria Shriver to Be Joined by Richard Branson, Katie Couric, Elizabeth Edwards, Dr. Jane Goodall, David Gregory, Valerie B. Jarrett, Caroline Kennedy, Alicia Keys, Annie Leibovitz , Governor Schwarzenegger and 14,000 Women at The Women’s Conference 2009 Main Event

Conference Expands to Two Full Days with Yesterday's Sold-Out Events – A Day of Transformation and Night at The Village – Bringing Total Attendance to 25,000

More than 70 world opinion leaders and approximately 14,000 women from all walks of life will be gathering today at the sold-out Women’s Conference 2009 main event. Hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the nation's premier forum for women will be held again this year at the Long Beach Convention Center. As an extension of her award-winning career as a journalist, California First Lady Maria Shriver approaches The Women's Conference as a place for once-in-a-lifetime conversations and news-making moments that combine the world’s most authentic and influential voices in discussions about the issues that matter most to women.

“The goal of The Women's Conference is to transform women inside and out – and then empower them to help transform our world as Architects of Change,” said Shriver. “We encourage women to pass on the wisdom, life-lessons and the practical tools they have learned to empower other women to see themselves as capable of making a difference in the world.”

Program highlights from the forum's main stage conversations and twelve breakout conversations include:

  • Robin Roberts moderates a main stage conversation on Leadership Decisions in Tough Times with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila C. Bair and Sir Richard Branson;
  • David Gregory moderates a main stage conversation on How a Woman's Nation Changes Everything with former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Amy Holmes, Valerie B. Jarrett and Claire Shipman;
  • Maria Shriver moderates a main stage conversation on Grief, Healing & Resilience with Elizabeth Edwards, Susan Saint James and Lisa Niemi;
  • Katie Couric moderates a conversation with Annie Leibovitz, legend to legend;
  • Robin Roberts moderates a conversation on Overcoming the Unimaginable with Gayle Haggard, Elizabeth & Lois Smart and Life Without Limbs President & Founder Nick Vujicic;
  • All Things Digital Co-Executive Editor Kara Swisher moderates a conversation on Changing the World Through the Web with Ashton Kutcher, Blue State Digital Founder Joe Rospars, President Premal Shah and Facebook's Randi Zuckerberg;
  • Claire Shipman moderates a conversation on Women in Power with Arianna Huffington, Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive, Brown University President Dr. Ruth Simmons and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis;
  • Paley Center for Media CEO Pat Mitchell moderates a conversation on Women Who Use Their Voices to Change the World with Geena Davis, Somaly Mam, Lisa Ling and New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof; and
  • Paula Zahn moderates a conversation on Raising Strong & Confident Children with Meghan McCain and Danica Patrick & T.J. Patrick.
  • At the end of the day, The Women's Conference will continue its tradition of honoring “Remarkable Women, Remarkable Legacies” with the presentation of The Minerva Awards. Held during the afternoon main stage session, the special ceremony is hosted by Maria Shriver and will feature remarks by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, Alicia Keys and Caroline Kennedy. The 2009 Minerva Award honorees are Agnes Stevens, Helen Devore Waukazoo, Dr. Kathy Hull and Dr. Jane Goodall.

“This year's Minerva Award honorees are true Architects of Change,” said First Lady Maria Shriver. “They are women who have pursued their own path and true purpose and who passionately dedicate themselves to the service of others. Each of these remarkable women strive to make a difference every day and, by their example, inspire us to do the same.”

Each year, full day passes to The Women's Conference sell out in record-breaking time. Tickets this year sold out in less than two hours, beating last year's record of three hours. In response to this popular demand and to expand its reach to larger numbers of women, The Women's Conference expanded to two full days in 2009 with the addition of yesterday's events, A Day of Transformation and Night at The Village. These sold-out events increased attendee capacity by 11,000 tickets, bringing the total attendance to 25,000.

The first day of the conference was kicked off by the debut of A Day of Transformation. Hosted by Maria Shriver, the event featured professional, educational and personal sessions packed with practical tips and tools for “how” to transform their lives and become Architects of Change. An extraordinary lineup of thought-leaders, including Stephen M.R. Covey, Martha Beck, The First 30 Days Author & Founder Ariane de Bonvoisin, President Premal Shah and Women for Hire CEO Tory Johnson, taught interactive sessions such as How to Trust Yourself, How to Break the Cycle of Stress, How to Make Your Job Matter, How to Be an Entrepreneur in the Non-profit World, How to Start Your Own Business and How to Turn Your Story into a Book.

The first day of the conference was capped off with Night at The Village, which transformed the Long Beach Convention Center’s exhibit hall into an over 160,000 square foot women’s village for more than 10,000 attendees. The event featured stage conversations with prominent speakers and renowned experts such as health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels, life coach and author Martha Beck, celebrity chef Paula Deen, Dancing With the Stars choreographer Wendy Johnson, celebrity trainer Bob Greene, environmental advocate Majora Carter and acclaimed yoga teacher Seane Corn; stage interviews and book signings with more than 25 best-selling authors such as Claire Shipman, Kate Gosselin, Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor, Greg Mortenson, Kay Warren, Candace Bushnell, Kim Barnouin, Caroline Kennedy and Jean Chatzky; live music and dancing exhibitions; and unique shopping experiences, products, services and information for women from more than 330 exhibitors. The Village stays open throughout the conference and is a popular gathering spot for speakers, authors and attendees.

Tens of thousands of women also watch the conference's main event live on its Web site at Substantial portions of the event will be streamed live from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PDT

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