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Leadership conferences: Why are they important?

Melissa Mahoney - (Photo / Submitted)

On any given week, businesswomen can attend a variety of networking events, seminars and conferences. Why are they important? We asked women for their feedback.

Businesswomen from around Central Pennsylvania gathered June 9 at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Harrisburg for the 5th Annual Ladies Who Lead Half-Day Conference.

The conference focused on the keynote speaker: head coach of the Penn State Lady Lion Basketball team, Coquese Washington. She spoke about leadership and ways to advance the culture of a business. The event also included a networking hour, luncheon, breakout sessions, vendors’ tables, and relaxation areas available for attendees.

The purpose was to show businesswomen that leadership’s impact is independent of your title. We spoke with several women about what they hoped to take away from their experience.

Sharon Thomas, president and founder of Rowena Global Services LLC

“The very first time I came to this event, I was so amazed at all the successful women. I was so impressed with the panelists, and not only the panelists, but the women who attended. They were just ordinary women and I learned so much from them.

“One of the things I really want to do is get better at public speaking. I emulate how the ladies always sit up and present themselves nicely. I want to learn what the speakers have to offer and how it can make me a better person.


Melissa Mahoney, associate director of admissions at Central Penn College

 “I recently took on my first official leadership position, and I think that a lot of women struggle with confidence. I think that with not having a lot of experience and also being a woman coming to something like this could be empowering. It’s something that could help me develop my skills and [allow me to] hear from other successful women and network with other women in the business world.”


Brenna K. Kernan, branch manager for Members 1st Federal Credit Union

“[This event] gives me the opportunity to network and hear some great speakers, but I also like to shop. It’s nice to have the different vendors here so you can shop around and meet some new people. Also, a lot of the vendors are community-based businesses, which I think is nice to support.”


Jill A. Lott, campus director of nursing at HACC Gettysburg Campus

“This [event] caught my eye because I played basketball in college. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can get out of it.”

Lott also wanted to learn the skills needed when conversations with employees tend to involve conflict.

“I’m generally a non-confrontational person but I know you have to have crucial conversations. To me, that’s a skill that comes with time but I’ll take any hints I can get.”

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