So often, Deona Smith would attend conferences around town but found she was one of only a few African-American women there.

She loved all the knowledge and experiences she acquired but wished more minority women could benefit.

Most conferences are held during the workday, when many black women can’t get off from work, or don’t feel empowered to ask for time off.

So Smith got to thinking.

What about a day to honor all women, especially women of color? Women tend to be nurturers and the caregivers. They look out for everyone else.

But it’s time for them to focus on themselves, Smith said.

So Saturday is that day; Sister Summit 2012 is the event. And Smith is waiting with door prizes, including a weekend for two at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island.

Smith, publisher of Living Roots Magazine, hopes hundreds come to the event at 11 a.m. at Trident Tech’s Conference Center, Building 920, on Rivers Avenue. The cost is $10. For more info, visit

The conference focuses primarily on black women but is open to all women, she said.

There is something for every woman, with tips on everything from finances to beauty, entrepreneurship to personal development, career to parenting, and health and wellness.

Locally, Jennet Robinson Alterman of the Center for Women will talk about empowerment, teaching women to not be afraid to stand up for themselves.

Dr. Paula Orr, OB-GYN, of Charleston Women’s Wellness Center, will talk about women’s health; certified Pastry Chef Kimberly Brock Brown will focus on healthy cooking and how to make substitutes and still enjoy Gullah foods.

Dorothea Bernique, founder of Increasing H.O.P.E. Financial Training Center in North Charleston, will encourage women to take charge of their finances because “a man is not a financial plan.”

Women often leave finances to men, Smith said. Bernique will explain why they need to know how to pay the bills and where their money is.

Other speakers include Hollywood writer and Lowcountry native Vanessa Middleton; actress CeeCee Michaela of the TV show “Girlfriends”; Gullah storyteller Anita Singleton-Prather aka Aunt Pearlie Sue; Elder Lynette Green of Magic 107.3; and Star 99.7 radio personality Geno Jones.

The Summit offers exhibits from area businesses, because women make 85 percent of all household buying decisions, and businesses need to consider that, Smith said.

Because women are always juggling family and work, a day set aside for them is a great idea. It provides a breather for them to come together and share ideas.

It also dispels the myth that “women can’t play in the same sandbox,” Smith said.

The summit is Smith’s way of helping others — her sisters, if you will. We all can take a lesson from her.

Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555 or