The Black Women’s Expo Celebrates 25 Years

#SheMatters: A Chat with Event Pioneer, Merry Green

Black girl magic is nothing new to marketing and event pioneer, Merry Green, founder of the Black Women’s Expo (BWE). She’s been sprinkling it in Chicago over the past quarter century at the Black Women’s Expo when she recognized a need to cater to her community. Today, BWE commemorates 25 years of expo excellence April 12 through April 14 at the McCormick Place convention center.

It all started in the ’90s when Merry worked at V103 in the Promotions Department as the Promotions & Marketing Director. A part of her role was to create authentic events for the radio station’s listening audience. As she promoted and attended other expos, she noticed a gap in the exposition scene around the country: a space designed for and catered to today’s black woman. From day one, the Black Women’s Expo took off and eventually evolved into the nation’s premier expo targeting the African American consumer market.

Over the past quarter century, Merry and her team have been very intentional about programming both entertaining and educational content to empower its growing audience. Each year, BWE features workshops and informative sessions led by the nation’s leading experts addressing a myriad of topics around economic development, racial equality, health/wellness, career advancement and more. The week also includes performances, panels, culinary tastings, exhibits, small businesses and more.

“There’s a lot of secret sauce in this. We are extremely diligent and hard workers. We put in a lot of time into this, and there’s so much passion for the show.” Merry explained in an exclusive interview with MADE. Constantly brainstorming new ideas with an advisory board of women and creating ways to improve the show for the community has been a strategy that has worked for the longevity of BWE.

Believing in her own community is how Merry started and continues to stay in the game. She reflected on the hard work and resources it takes to put on such a valuable proposition for her community. “Out of all of resources dedicated to other large productions in Chicago, we wanted that same thing for us.” Merry shared.

Merry offered a piece of advice for rising event planners seeking to scale their operation into a long-lasting exposition. “For any large event to be successful, you have to make sure you can deliver what was promised – not only to the attendees but to your sponsors as well so that you can continue doing the work.”

In its commemorative 25th year with BET Her as its title sponsor and the hashtag #SheMatters, BWE has risen to the occasion once again, sprinkling more Black Girl Magic as the city of Chicago embraces a new age of Black women leaders. The celebration kicked off on Thursday, April 11th at the Phenomenal Women Awards “First Look” Gala honoring 25 prominent Chicago-area Black women across professional industries. Friday, April 12th mayor-elect, Lori Lightfoot commenced the occasion at BWE’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at McCormick Place.

The weekend also features headline performances from Eric Benét, Leela James, Glenn Jones, and J. Brown Set. For more information on the 25th Annual Black Women’s Expo, visit theblackwomensexpo.com.