by Juliana Dauchess

Last night, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute hosted its annual dinner banquet to honor Kellyanne Conway as the 2017 Woman of the Year Award recipient. It was a truly spectacular event, hosted at the elegant Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

The night began as guests mingled outside the ballroom, enjoying drinks and great conversation. The guests included supporters, speakers, CBLPI board members and staff, former staff, alumni, and students – all people who have been closely involved with the Institute.  There was even a blackboard with the words “I don’t need feminism…” circulating the room and students jumped at the chance to write their own caption and take a fun photo.

L-R: Marji Ross, Bay Buchanan, Kellyanne Conway, KT McFarland, Becky Norton Dunlop

When the doors opened, the guests entered the beautiful ballroom that was complete with flower arrangements, chandeliers, and even subtle purple lighting (to match CBLPI’s colors!). The woman of the evening, Kellyanne, was simply radiant.  Sitting at the head table, she wore a dazzling smile and was gracious to all. Kellyanne’s husband, George, escorted her with three of their four children, who sat next to her during the entire event; the kids were very energetic, and excited to be attending a fancy dinner with their mom!

L-R: George Conway, Attorney General Ed Meese, Mrs. Ursula Meese, Conway children, Kellyanne Conway

Once dinner had concluded, CBLPI President and Founder Michelle Easton gave remarks about Kellyanne’s impressive professional career and personal character. Some of her outstanding accomplishments include being the first woman to successfully run a presidential campaign, being named Counselor to the President, and being named New Jersey’s Blueberry Princess back in the day. Michelle called Kellyanne to the stage and officially presented her with the Woman of the Year Award, and both received a thunderous standing ovation.

Kellyanne then took the podium to speak about her journey to this point in her career. She began with explaining her upbringing in a house of all women that fostered conservative values deep within her “without ever having a single political conversation.”

She explained how the strong women around her emphasized the importance of resilience and optimism, lessons which have been a guiding light to her throughout her life. Kellyanne remarked that “a leader is someone who is willing to stand tall and be different, even when it’s difficult,” advice that we constantly see her following herself.

Kellyanne addressed the students in the room directly, telling them to be prepared for the “battlefield of ideas” that they will experience on campus and in the workplace. Quoting Clare Boothe Luce, Kellyanne reminded us that “courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount” and said that it takes courage, hard work, and a little bit of luck to succeed.

After her speech, Kellyanne sat with Michelle on the stage for a conversation. The questions ranged from her campaign experience during the 2016 presidential elections, balancing her family with work, the partially-upheld travel ban, and un-told stories from the White House.

Speaking on why her position as a female conservative benefited the campaign, Kellyanne explained that conservatives focus on “issues and not individuals, policy and not personality,” the exact opposite of the Left. She again reminded the students present that the job of first female President of the United States of America is still open and encouraged us to strive to fill that position quickly, keeping in mind the importance of “humility and focus.”

Kellyanne also noted that the Left has “more women, but only one viewpoint,” saying that our diversity as a movement is a large advantage that will serve immensely in the years to come. To finish the Q&A, Kellyanne reminded us that there is a difference between privilege and blessings, and she believes that she has been blessed greatly with the opportunity to serve our great country.

Overall, the Woman of the Year Dinner Banquet was a smashing success. Every guest left inspired to continue to improve politics and do their part to strengthen the conservative movement. Kellyanne was the perfect Guest of Honor and she reminded us all that we, as women, have a duty to stand up for what we believe in and make a difference, whether that be on campus, in our homes, or in the office. She is truly a wonderful role model and will serve as inspiration for years to come.

Note:  For all the photos of the evening, visit our Flickr album.

CBLPI Summer Fellows with Kellyanne Conway
L-R: Juliana Dauchess, Kelly Heilman, Katie Porter, Monaco Schmidt, Rachel Moss, Ellen Schutt

Juliana Dauchess is a 2017 CBLPI Fellow.