I just returned from Detroit, Mich., last week for my first group publishers meeting at Real Times Media.

It was exciting to be a part of a larger multimedia company that has as its mission to not only inform its readers but to actively engage them on a regular basis. As the only woman publisher in the group, my new boss, Hiram Jackson, asked me to participate in the Michigan Chronicle’s “Women of Excellence” event held at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel.

I was on two panels with several outstanding Detroit area women. The first was “An Insiders Circle: A Pathway to Obtaining Corporate Board Appointments.” The second was “Simply Your Best: Achieving a Work-Life Balance That’s Right For You.” It was inspiring to hear from these pioneering and thoughtful women.

The first panel included Faye Nelson, president & CEO, Detroit Riverfront; Vivian Pickard, president GM Foundation and director corporate relations, GM; Kimberlydawn Wisdom, physician and vice president community health, education and wellness, Henry Ford Health Systems; and me. Pam McElvane, CEO and publisher, Diversity MBA Magazine, served as moderator.

The second panel on work/life balance included Gail Parker, noted psychologist and yoga instructor; Rev. Dr. Wilma Johnson, pastor of New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church; physician Wisdom; and me. Actress, author and comedienne Kim Coles — most famous for portraying “Sinclair” on “Living Single” — served as moderator. Coles was charming, smart, witty and funny. She also announced that she has just signed a deal with Oprah Winfrey to be a game show host for OWN. The show debuts in June.

The first panel was a sobering report of how few women, and particularly women of color, are on corporate boards, but it was chock full of good tips about building your resume and networks through non-profit board service. This will gain notice for corporate and hone skills and could possibly lead to corporate or paid board service. However, it was the second panel that captured my imagination. Everyone agreed that the key to achieving work/life balance is to do what you love – following your passion – as your life’s work.

“If you’re doing something you love, then reading those medical journal articles late at night is not work,” physician Wisdom said. “It’s fun.”

Psychologist Parker, who once was featured on television, said “self care is not being selfish.” She advised people that depression is “settling for less than what we really want.” She urged people to discover “your deepest heart’s desire. We must connect with and honor our passions.”

Rev. Johnson advised the audience simply to “do what you can. Don’t do what you can’t.”

Our moderator Kim Coles took us through our paces by having us introduce ourselves using a list of five words. This was a challenging exercise, and I recommend it to you. Try it and see what five words you pick for yourself. It might even be revealing to you.

This was the fifth annual “Women of Excellence” event hosted by the Michigan Chronicle. This was the first year of the “Excellent You Women’s Empowerment Panel.” The panels attracted more than 200 women with another 250 women joining them for the High Tea and awards presentation to 49 Detroit Area women.

Real Times CEO Jackson, who is also serving as interim publisher of The Michigan Chronicle, welcomed everyone to the event.

“This event, which has recognized the accomplishments of more than 250 remarkable African American women since its inception in 2007, speaks to the caliber of women who command our boardrooms, executive offices and legislative chambers,” Jackson said. “And whose many accomplishments are worthy of continued recognition, honor and applause.”

In addition to the special recognition at the event, the Chronicle also published a special section highlighting the 2012 honorees.

“For all their many accomplishments and enormous resources, African American females remain one of the most largely ignored and least visible leaders in our community,” Jackson wrote in a special note to readers of the March 28 Chronicle.

The Chronicle is one of the five historic papers published by Real Times. In addition, the group includes the Chicago Defender, The New Pittsburgh Courier, the Memphis Tri-State Defender and now the Atlanta Daily World. Stay tuned as we amp up our reader engagement here in Atlanta.

M. Alexis Scott is publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, a Real Times Media newspaper.

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