Two years ago I was watching a panel discussion for women. As I looked around the room and watched women bending over backwards to connect and share stories of each other’s struggles and successes in the workplace, I instantly knew that the women of Northeast Ohio were in need of something. Something that would allow them to network, learn and inspire each other as they navigate their careers and lives. We needed a women’s forum – and one that could attract women from all different socio-economic backgrounds, geographies, industries, levels and ages in Northeast Ohio.
Fast forward to 2016 and the Women’s Leadership Conference of Northeast Ohio is quickly approaching our second year.
This conference started from a wish. I had wished something like this existed when I moved to Cleveland. I wished there was a network of business women that I could call on when negotiating my first raise. I wished that when I was the first female who was pregnant at my organization, I had a network of women to tell me how difficult it would be to be a full-time mom and have a full-time career. I wished I had female mentors who were constantly looking out for me and giving me advice as I worked my way up the corporate ladder. My list of wishes could go on for pages. But I finally made the decision that I needed to stop wishing for something - and start making it happen! And while it was terrifying, I knew deep down that if I truly created this conference out of a place of giving back, there is no way I could go wrong.
I had no other motivation other than to help women in Northeast Ohio learn, network and celebrate each other.
Our first year conference became an instant value to large and small corporations based on the amazing 12 speakers whose content was heads and shoulders above expectations. Once the day kicked off, every late night and weekend I put into this event instantly became worth it when I saw the hundreds of women filing into our conference. Women thanked our small but mighty conference committee for putting something like this together. Powerful women speakers from GE Lighting, PRADCO, Dealer Tire and other amazing companies took the stage and blew our attendees away. As I poked my head in and out of breakout sessions, I would see women leaning in, taking notes and connecting - in a meaningful way. I watched as my germ of an idea folded into a powerful day filled with knowledge and networking - and I stood there proud and honored to be in the same place as all of these powerful women.
Soon after our first conference wrapped, I noticed an instant shift. By creating this conference, I was no longer just a director of sales for my company. I instantly became a founder of a nonprofit startup, or as most call it – an entrepreneur! It was inspiring – and quickly, things started to fall into place and I found my rhythm. With an outstanding team of volunteers and leaders standing next to me, I have become an ambassador for women in the workplace. I have spoken with the senator’s office, media, and corporations surrounding women in the workplace. I have grown my network to support and give back to women. I have been given a voice to help others — and there is no way I can walk away from it now.
If you didn’t attend last year’s conference, here is the scoop - we have 12 powerful women speakers from all industries and backgrounds come together for one day. We have breakout sessions and some amazing women who kick it off and close it out that we bring in from across the country. You will see speakers from nonprofit, STEM, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare, Government, and the Legal Finance space. But more importantly, here’s what you won’t see — you won’t see negative discussions that have no tie back to positive movement; you won’t see people tearing other people down; and you will not see any male speakers. I know - we get the “why” question quite often. This day is meant to give women the podium and the platform. And I won’t apologize for it. We do encourage men to attend - we will welcome you with open arms to be a part of the discussions and the networking.
So as our second annual conference is only a month away — I encourage you to take a look at our speakers, look at the topics and consider attending. This is a day to learn AND celebrate and I hope to see you all there. I will be the one smiling from ear-to-ear as you all make my wishes come true!
To sign up for our event on October 27th, go here!