Women’s Leadership Conference Draws Nearly 2,000

Women’s Leadership Conference Draws Nearly 2,000

Bay Path College Women’s Leadership Conference in Springfield draws nearly 2,000

SPRINGFIELD – Nearly 2,000 women from all walks of life gathered at the MassMutual Center Friday for a day filled with inspiring speeches and professional development during Bay Path College’s 18th annual Women’s Leadership Conference.The event doubled in participation from last year due, in part, to big name speakers scheduled to grace the stage including Susan Cain, the author of The New York Times best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

Featured keynote speaker actress, singer, author and entrepreneur Queen Latifah had a sit down interview with Bay Path College President Carol Leary. She answered questions from the audience as well as questions submitted form the college’s blog.

“We are just thrilled with the turnout and the quality of speakers this year,” said Bay Path President Carol Leary. “We hope this event will generate wonderful ideas that make the Greater Springfield area a bold and progressive place.”

From teenagers and college students to women working in the corporate, retail, health care and non-profit world women were able to choose from more than eight sessions, including sessions on properly marketing yourself, mentoring and more.

A popular break out session was an hour long talk by King Peggy, a secretary who became king of the African village of Otuam.

Queen Latifah at Bay Path Conference Queen Latifah was asked a question about being bold at the Bay Path Women’s Conference in Springfield on Friday. She encouraged women to be bold and stand up for what they believe in. “If a simple secretary can become king, you can do anything,” she told the packed room.

Women were also able roam the first and second floors of the MassMutual Center to meet with organizations and companies like Futureworks in Springfield, Denise Smith Photography and more.

Kate Vishnyakov, owner of Kate Gray Boutique in East Longmeadow, said, as a female entrepreneur, it is important to support events that empower women. “Our belief is that if you look good, you feel good,” said Vishnyakov ” So we are not just selling clothes, but confidence and empowerment.”

Isabella Pierangelo, a student at Holyoke Community College and an intern at Kate Gray, said she is happy to be learning about business and fashion from a female entrepreneur.

“It’s been a great experience and I’m learning so much,” she said.

Many women who work at area colleges attended the event, including Myriam Quinones, coordinator of the Multicultural Academic Services program at Holyoke Community College.

“I feel so inspired and like I am learning so much,” said Quinones as she headed off to the “Making Work Happy,” talk led by Shereen Eltobgy and Sunny Grosso, facilitators for the company Delivering Happiness.

The company’s CEO Jenn Lim, was also a keynote speaker. Lim was able to help make online retailer Zappos.com a $2billion company through creating a happy environment for the employees, which in turn motivated them to produce better work.

Eiliannie Alvelo, who was recently accepted to Bay Path College, said she was excited to learn as much as she could from all of the women speakers.

“I think it’s a well-organized event with a lot to offer,” she said.

Leary said the event serves as professional development for most women.

“We hope this event will help women go back to their organizations, schools and lives with a new energy and inspiration and a desire to share their knowledge,” Leary said.

Belchertown High School senior Shannen Curtin, 18, won an essay contest with The Republican which won her a seat at the event.

A self-proclaimed extrovert, Curtin found Cain’s discussion about dealing with introverts to be enlightening.

“I am involved in a lot of groups at school and there are introverted students that might want to participate, but maybe don’t know how,”she said.

Curtin said she hoped to practice everything she learned at the conference and apply it at school and in her future career as a nurse in the pediatric oncology unit.

“It’s been a wonderful experience and I’m learning as much as I can,” she said.