Connect-Up Wrap Up: 2020 CBR Gals Network Gala

The 2020 Connect-Up Gala, held at Hotel Realm on Saturday 25 July, brought together Canberrans of every age, profession, and every season of life in order to build a more inclusive Canberra through an evening of empowered connection.

Throughout an evening of small-business sampling, panels, activities, and full dining experience, CBR Gals Network event-goers experienced the “first black tie-event” of 2020. The Gala aimed to give Canberrans the first opportunity of 2020 to unite in this time of crisis and connect in a meaningful way.

Founder and Chair of the Board Rae Knopik opened the evening with the Acknowledgement of Country, noting how this special occasion was the perfect opportunity to lean in to not just each other, but the place that is Canberra, too. Rae explained that the goals for the evening were three:

  1. That attendees would leave with a greater understanding of the 20+ small, women-run business who offered their goods and services in support of the Connect-Up Gala.
  2. That we might leave with a greater understanding of the importance of women supporting each other. “I was talking to my friend about how the gala came together [in just six weeks’ time],” said Rae. “And my friend laughed and asked, ‘Do things always fall into place for the CBR Gals?’ They do. Because when women support women, magic happens.”
  3. That we would seize the moment and embrace the liminality, what Rae defined as “the thing that is existing betwixt and between a past that is clearly gone and a future that is still uncertain.”

Rae then went on to introduce the first icebreaker of the evening, “Empowered Connection Bingo” in which participants were tasked with finding other people at their tables for whom the statement in the bingo square was true. Questions ranged from the mundane, “has a nut allergy”, to the fantastical, “Knows what a Quinceniera is” and “Did all their weekend chores before coming here tonight.” In this way, attendees were able to connect with each other in a fun way while sharing parts about themselves, too.

Afterwards, Panel 1 took the stage to discuss UpSkilling and Rebranding in the Face of Adversity. SBS Producer Jamie Travers emceed this portion of the event, facilitating conversation between Ben Alexander, former Brumbies start turned Dock Kingston co-owner; Gai Brodtmann, former Representative for Canberra; Rasi Gupta, doctor, public servant, and fashion blogger; and Zoe Lynam, Olympian and COO of Proximity. When asked about her various experiences, Gai Brodtmann reminded us to keep an open mind and say yes to upcoming opportunities when she said, “You’ve got to seize opportunities when they come along.” Ben Alexander shared this sentiment when he said, “People will help you learn what you need to know. Be kind to yourself.” Rasi Gupta left us with a somewhat daunting truth, “Standing between you, and a very different life, is just one decision.” 

Just before dinner, guests partook in a second activity for the evening, the Canberra-based quiz, competing for over 40 prizes provided by local women-run businesses. Among the prizes were goodie bags by Fusion Accountants and Balance Family Law, dessert boxes by Sugar Mumma, Negroni flights by Zaab Streetfood, books by the Joyful Frugalista, haircare by Pura Holistic Hair Studio. Having so many prizes allowed for guests to leave the evening with a tangible experience of each women-owned brand. 

Dinner was served with suggested wine pairings from the Connect-Up Gala event partner, Contentious Character Winery. Darcy Welsh Music put on a beautiful compilation of songs.

After dinner, the second panel took the stage, emceed by Virginia Haussegger AM. Virginia lead the discussion around Building Back better during these unprecedented times, and what that meant for panellists Frances Crimmins, Dhani Gilbert, Kemiso Matlho, Daryl Karp AM, and Ashleigh Streeter-Jones. A key  take away occurred when Virginia asked panellists about what they thought of recent comments made about Millennials. Dhani Gilbert replied that, “Millennials have resilience, but it’s different than having a stiff upper lip when bad things happen. Millennials’ resilience is about actioning. It’s about acknowledging that something’s not right and doing something about it.” 

Everyone left the evening with personalised CBR Gals Cookies by Cake Coma

Visit Google Drive to see photos from the day, and be sure to follow CBR Gals on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram for more on women’s leadership.

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The CBR Gals Network
Author: The CBR Gals Network

The CBR Gals Network is a feminist not-for-profit organisation established in 2018.