Glamour Books Maria Shriver, Marissa Mayer, Lena Dunham and Issa Rae For First-Ever Women of the Year Live Summit

Issa Rae Marissa Mayer and Cindi Leive - Split - H - 2016
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage; Dimitrios Kambouris, Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Glamour's Cindi Leive says the post-election event could coincide with "a national embrace of new beginnings and a moment of reflection on just how far women and girls in this country have gone, and can go."

Glamour is on the move.

The magazine has announced that its upcoming Women of the Year event is moving from New York to Los Angeles, where it will be expanded to include a full day of summit-style live programming to precede its annual glitzy awards ceremony. And a slew of big names have already confirmed their attendance and participation, joining host Cindi Leive, the mag's veteran editor-in-chief. 

Scheduled for Nov. 14 at NeueHouse Hollywood, Glamour will host summit speakers and panelists including Maria Shriver, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, Girls creator Lena Dunham, Insecure star Issa Rae, designer Rebecca Minkoff, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, soccer star Alex Morgan, volleyball superstar Kerri Walsh Jennings, Instagram's Eva Chen, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe, writer Maureen Dowd, activist Jaha Dukureh, singer Tinashe, and others to be announced. Described as an "immersive experience," the day will showcase conversations, storytelling, performances and unscripted dialogues between these "trailblazing women." 

Leive took time out of her busy summit-planning and magazine-editing schedule to chat with Pret-a-Reporter about what West Coasters should expect from the mag's major move. 

There are big changes this year for Glamour's Women of the Year brand. First, let’s talk about the Women of the Year Summit, the first outing for a day of live programming. Why expand this year? And what is your strategy for the programming?

We’ve been itching to do this for years. The awards were and are wonderful, but they weren’t enough. Every year, we would honor these spectacular women, and then you’d get to hear from them for exactly four minutes onstage at our gala — not to mention the fact that the audience was filled with past winners and other women with important stories to tell. We wanted women — and most especially young women — to be able to hear more, to engage in direct conversations with our winners and past winners. Our strategy for the programming — beyond the table stakes, that it be interesting and topical for 2016 — is that each woman attending should walk out with usable information to make her own life better. That might be a strategy for negotiating your salary; or a confidence secret; or a new way of thinking about your own story. But it’ll be personal in a way we haven’t been able to be before. 
Further, you’re heading west. Why move the event from New York City to Los Angeles for the first time in the 25-year history of the Women of the Year offering?

It was time for a change! And there’s so much going on for women on the West Coast right now, between all the activism around women’s leadership in Hollywood and all the efforts of women in Silicon Valley to make that a fairer playing field. Plus, as a brand we’re more and more active on the West Coast these days. So many of our relationships were here. We wanted to bring our flagship event here and see what happened.

In your experience, how do Glamour events differ in New York vs. Los Angeles? Also, do you have any L.A. favorites — places to stay, eat or play? Or is it all work when you’re here?

Everything differs between New York and LA. Our West Coast team is constantly reminding me that dinners need to be earlier in L.A., that you need to provide valet, and that informal beats formal. We had one L.A. lunch earlier this year where people ended up in the pool on pool floats — and that was a lunch, not a debauched late-night thing! That’s never happening in New York. People would be like, 'Not in my Balenciaga, sweetheart.' My personal routine in L.A. revolves around work, hence hotels — the Peninsula [Beverly Hills], Chateau [Marmont], etc. — and studios. But left to my own devices, I’ll have dinner at Gjelina or the Tasting Kitchen in Venice.

It’s been 15 years since you rejoined Glamour from Self. And during that tenure, the conversation surrounding women has changed so dramatically — especially during this campaign cycle. Does that make events like yours that much more important? And what will Glamour add to the conversation at the Summit?

You hit the nail on the head. This is such an exciting time. It’s like everything is moving at warp speed now. For years it seemed like our attitudes toward women, and progress on women’s issues in general, were moving forward sloooowly, in kind of a one-step-forward-two-steps-back way. Now all of a sudden we’re woke. Even in the last six months, the number of women who call themselves feminist has risen dramatically — I think a lot of young women, particularly in this campaign cycle, have looked around and said, "Enough! Enough not listening to women, enough talking over us, enough locker-room BS — women’s experiences are important, and we believe in each other." Trust me, we’ll talk about all this at the summit, with women of diverse backgrounds and political viewpoints weighing in.
You’ve snagged quite a few impressive names to participate. I know this is tough and I don’t want to ask you to play favorites, but can you tell me who you are most excited to hear from during the Summit from athletes to designers to executives to women who do it all? What’s the question you’re itching to ask?

I want to ask Yahoo’s [CEO] Marissa Mayer how she gets through her damn email every day. I mean, my empire is substantially smaller than hers, and I still have 37,852 unread emails at any given moment. And I’ve heard she’s an inbox-zero person. So I need her to school me on that.

Your event happens on Nov. 14 in Los Angeles. We could have our first female President then. How do you think that will affect what the discussions are at the Summit?

I think it’s going to be an electric moment. Honestly, it’s kind of mind-boggling that the fact that we’re about to elect our first woman president is not the only thing everybody is talking about in this election cycle, but there’s been so much other drama. I think as soon as the election is over, the reality and the history of it will sink in, as it did after President Obama was elected. I think it’s going to be profound, and I can’t wait. We’re really lucky to be holding the summit so soon after Nov. 8, in what I hope will be a national embrace of new beginnings and a moment of reflection on just how far women and girls in this country have gone, and can go.

Whose name do you think will be heard more: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (a previous Glamour Women of the Year honoree)? 

Hillary Clinton. I mean, I’m not psychic, but it’ll be six days after the election. I think Trump will be in the rear-view mirror.  

You recently sat down with first lady Michelle Obama. What did you learn about her that you didn’t already know? What was she like offstage?

She might be my favorite human in the world right now. She is everything you hope and have heard: funny, down-to-earth, disarming. My typical experience with her involves my completely forgetting she’s the first lady and gabbing on to her like she’s a civilian, which usually ends with the Secret Service reminding me that she has places to go and can I please cut it short? But I’m so impressed by her warmth, and also her deep and real commitment to girls and women. We’ve been honored to partner on several events between her initiative, Let Girls Learn, and Glamour’s The Girl Project, both of which support the education of girls worldwide. There is no better spokesperson for those issues than Mrs. Obama. She feels it — she knows her education opened up everything for her and she wants to pay it forward.

You also recently hosted the Courage in Journalism Awards. How did that experience affect you, and did you walk away with any new insight into the role of journalists and/or female journalists?  

I always walk away from that event feeling extremely grateful to live in a country where generally, the worst thing to happen to you as a female journalist is you get called some nasty name on Twitter. The women we honored that night literally risk their lives just to put their stories out. Journalists are not held in high regard everywhere in the world, and women have it worst of all, but still, these women think it’s important to tell the truth on a daily basis. They’re rock stars.