Fresno is 'my crowd,' Maria Shriver says ahead of Women's Conference appearance

Maria Shriver will headline the 2018 Central California Women's Conference coming to Fresno in September.
Maria Shriver will headline the 2018 Central California Women's Conference coming to Fresno in September.

When Maria Shriver comes to Fresno later this year for the Central California Women's Conference, she's going to tell the crowd to "take a chill pill."

She also plans to remind women to take care of themselves so they can take care of others. And, in order to "Be the difference" — the theme of the conference — showing up and being your best self already is making a difference.

"You don't have to run for office to be the difference," she said during a phone interview this week. "That’s maybe what sometimes our capitalistic society tells you. … Everyday you get up and have the goal for yourself to be your best self, to be a service, to be there for your family and job."

Shriver is the former First Lady of California, an Emmy and Peabody-winning journalist, an Alzheimer's advocate, best-selling author and a mother. Since her book "I've Been Thinking" was named a New York Times No. 1 bestseller, she's been traveling the country promoting it during speaking engagements, meetings and various types of interviews.

She's as busy as ever, continuing her work as an NBC News special anchor, publishing her Sunday Paper newsletter and leading the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.

She'll be here Sept. 25 for the Women's Conference, where 75 percent of tickets already are sold, the fastest sales in the conference's 31-year history, organizers said. When her appearance was announced, organizers said they've been trying to book Shriver for 10 years.

The women who attend this year's conference will get the chance to submit questions for Shriver, who will participate in a live conversation with ABC30's Graciela Moreno.

The last time Shriver was in Fresno was 2010 for her WE Connect event. WE Connect gave low-income residents a one-stop location to take advantage of government services. The main focus was helping families file their taxes and take advantage of earned income tax credits. That experienced is part of the reason she's developed a "great affection" for Fresno.

"It's not San Francisco or L.A.," she said. "I like to go and talk to people where they're living real lives and dealing with real issues. That's what I write about every week. That's what I care about. I work on behalf of those people living paycheck to paycheck."

That's why she wants to come here.

"I feel more that my crowd is in Fresno than Davos," she said, referencing the posh community in the Swiss Alps that hosted the World Economic Forum this year.

For information or to register for the conference, visit www.ccwc-fresno.org or call 559-265-6888.

Brianna Calix: 559-441-6166, @BriannaCalix