SAN RAMON -- The hottest take-away at the 2014 East Bay Women's Conference was female brilliance spanning generations.

From 12-year-old kickoff vocalist Avery Chapman to the keynote speakers -- 31-year-old survivor-activist Leah Albright-Byrd and 82-year-old actor-singer Rita Moreno, plus ABC News and NPR broadcast journalist and author Cokie Roberts, sandwiched between -- it was an occasion for celebrating the broad sweep of women's history.

The ninth annual gathering, held March 3 at the San Ramon Marriott and presented by Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, featured ABC7 News Anchor and event emcee Dan Ashley and a hefty roster of professional breakout speakers. Noshing and networking were a given during strategic 30-minute breaks between presentations and a closing reception led by magician-speaker Heather Rogers.

The conference was all about legacy and learning.

Tri-Valley Bank Vice President Maxine Reynolds had left her San Ramon and Livermore offices for a day of camaraderie and expansion.

"This is my first time," she said. Reynolds retains a home in Oakland, where she's worked in the financial industry for over 30 years. She was still eager to learn about her new (as of 2012) East Contra Costa County digs.

"I'm stretching my customer base, hearing local stories and finding that the area's friendly," she said. She expected breakout sessions on negotiation, influence, and becoming a "change agent" would satisfy her need to engage in conversations about "work that is meaningful, not just about earning money."

Meaningful work was the substantive thread connecting Reynolds' desires to that of Bay Point resident Shannon Sterling. A stay-at-home mom, Sterling is anything but stationary.

"My role in a cooperative preschool I work with is to find my voice and my potential," she said. As architect of her daughter's education, she said the conference added energy to her dreams.

For Valerie Watase, a four-year veteran of the women's conference and a Lafayette physical therapist, stepping out of her "box" to attend the sold-out conference is an annual exercise. "I need to see the bigger world; women coming back to the community to share and inspire other women," she said.

Albright-Byrd's keynote delivery, "Learning to Dream Again," was a form of homecoming -- albeit a bittersweet one. Raised in a home rocked by divorce, substance abuse, domestic violence, molestation, abandonment and trauma, she took to the Bay Area streets at age 14.

"I represent hundred's of thousands of American children who are involved in sex trafficking," she said. "The average age of entry is 12 to 14. We're talking middle school students and high school freshmen."

Walnut Creek City Councilwoman Cindy Silva suggested Albright-Byrd to the EBWC committee after hearing her speak at the city's public library.

"The place was packed; you could have heard a pin drop," she recalled. Albright-Byrd's soft-spoken, but forceful message permeated Silva's bubble -- bursting her "this couldn't happen here" perspective and fueling her conviction that she would be "a fabulous speaker" for the East Bay Women's Conference.

Albright-Byrd shared her dramatic life story, which includes four years of rape, abuse, despair and selling her body after being recruited by a pimp. Perhaps startling -- even shocking -- many in the audience, she said, "You may not have streets that are active, but that doesn't mean it's not happening from homes (in your neighborhood). I was brought all around the East Bay. Pedophiles can sit at home and order up children online."

For Albright-Byrd, making the delicate transition from victim to survivor came with a cost. Recruitment is the main growth methodology in the sex-trade industry, and Abright-Byrd gained favor when she pulled then 14-year-old Bridget Gray into her pimp's cadre.

"On March 3, 2006, Bridget was strangled to death by someone who was purchasing her in Las Vegas," Albright-Byrd said. "It was her birthday. Today, she would be 30. She didn't get to see her 30th birthday; I got to see mine."

In 2011, Albright-Byrd turned the tragedy into the service and advocacy organization "Bridget's Dream." Crisis intervention, prevention and education aimed at eradicating sex-trafficking is the nonprofit's purpose. She told the audience to face fear, refuse regret by living "full circle" and (paraphrasing from Paulo Cohelo's, "The Alchemist") to discover their legacy and allow the universe to conspire to help them achieve it.