Stedman Graham, a Keynote Speaker at California Women’s Conference

Sue Facter and Stedman Graham at California Women’s Conference.

Stedman Graham and a host of distinguished speakers drew thousands of guests to theLong BeachConvention Centerfor the California Women’s Conference.

Onstage, he is a powerful motivational speaker – confident, strong, and convincing, with the charisma of a presidential candidate. Offstage, a delight – soft-spoken, warm, and regal. Did we say tall? Stedman stands at 6’6”.

The author and leadership educator who’s most known as Oprah’s beau, gave a keynote speech at this conference, the brainchild of Maria Shriver when she was California’s first lady. Stedman’s topic: Knowing Your Own Identity with nine steps to success from his New York Times bestseller. This is a true success story. The entrepreneur grew up in a seven-child household with two disabled brothers who required all of his parents’ attention.

Marianne Williamson also gave a keynote. The Course in Miracles maven was introduced by her good friend, actress Frances Fisher. The event was executive produced by Michelle Patterson.

Although most of the business speakers were not as well known, we had our share of Hollywoodtypes. Just off Desperate Housewives duty, Marcia Cross arose extra early to talk about her plight balancing her career with motherhood. She started in psychology and after success in acting, swore her last audition would be Housewives. It changed her life with nine years of steady work. During that time, she met her husband and started a family.

Both humorous and serious, a panel with The Good News Girls covered everything from “giving back” to Botox. With Dorothy Lucey and Wendy Burch on a panel, you never know what you are going to get, in a good way of course! Christine Devine and Ana Garcia joined them.

A rare treat: The Living Legends of Stage and Screen.  Funny lady JoAnne Worley interviewed Carol Channing, Rose Marie, and Tippi Hedren in what was one of the most fascinating 45 minutes in seminar history. We could not stop laughing. Tippi’s face turned almost scarlet from a naughty Carol Channing anecdote. (We won’t print it.) After this panel, Tippi was back-to-back booked on Women Influencing Legislation. (She founded Shambala and just returned from D.C. to help raise awareness on behalf of the animals.)

Glam gal, Shannon Tweed-Simmons spoke about the frustration of finally getting a marriage proposal from long-time beau, Gene Simmons, after a 29-year relationship. She didn’t buy it at first because she felt like a consolation prize when she gave him an ultimatum. They attended counseling from Tina and Ron Konkin. Relationship expert, Dr. John Gray “Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus” joined the same panel.

We couldn’t possibly attend all panel discussions, as many were simultaneously in session. One we missed: Maria Bello in Social and Communication Intelligence: Media Smarts and Effectiveness.

It was a nice surprise to run into Sharon Lawrence (Rizzoli and Isles, NYPD Blue) who mentioned her latest cause – to get out and vote. She was attending (not speaking), as was Broadway’s Carol Lawrence.

Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury brand. Her work appears in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Women’s Day Australia, as well as on broadcasts and the web. Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.