IRSC debuted the first Women’s Conference on Friday February 11th at their Muller campus in Vero Beach. The purpose of the conference is the empower the journey of women to lead and serve their communities. According to Lynne O’Dell, the Conference Chair, this is going to be an annual event as she knew it was something that not only the college needed but the community as well.
Lynne O’Dell is currently the Director of the STEM Pioneer Project at IRSC. This project is a five-year grand-funded project that increases the number of Hispanic and low-income students pursuing STEM degrees and adds research to AA-level math and science courses. She is the brainchild behind this conference and prior to introducing the keynote speaker, Sabby Hightower, Lynne shared with the attendees a bit of her background. There were over one hundred people in the room, many of which were dabbing their eyes with tissues as she spoke. Lynne said she is where she is today because of a number of people who believed in her and she helped create this conference to empower other women to believe in themselves and have the confidence to step up into leadership roles.
Next to speak was Sabby Hightower. As the keynote speaker, she truly inspired us with her story of love, loss, hardship, and tenacity to succeed. Her speech was interactive, encouraging people to get up and dance and even share their stories. Sabby is the Chief of Staff at the Visiting Nurse Association and also serves as the Co-Executive Director of Helping Hands of the Treasure Coast. She is also a proud mother to four beautiful children and is also currently working on her PhD at Saybrook University. There is a lot more to her bio and Sabby is clearly a leader who is serving her community. It was an honor to hear her speak.
The conference started at 8am with an opportunity to mingle and network over breakfast. The agenda was filled with one inspiring presentation after another from local leaders in the community: Crystal Morris of One Caring Adult, Inc., Teretha Smith of IRSC, Shala Edwards of the Treasure Coast Girls Coalition, Lucie McGuire of Get Real Get Social, Patricia Pitts of P&L Services Team, Dr. Elizabeth Zeiss of IRSC, Louise Kennedy of the Laura Riding Jackson Foundation, Kalitha Mills author of four books and counting, Patrice Bowes of Serenity Solutions, Denise Smith of IRSC, Dr. Angie Bailey of IRSC, Lisa Lopez of IRSC, and Dr. Brenda Rante of IRSC.
In addition to the presentations, these accomplished women led breakout sessions covering a wide variety of topics including Reimaging Assertiveness, Resumes and Interviews, My Experience as an Author, Mind & Body Wellness and more. There was a panel discussion as well. All the attendees were encouraged to ask questions and share their journey in their career and/or business as it relates to their development and leadership skills.
Proctor Construction was the signature sponsor and put out a really nice spread for breakfast and also served a delicious, boxed lunch. There were tables outside the auditorium with a wonderful array of vendors – businesswomen sharing their products and services with everyone.
At the end of the conference, Lynne O’Dell encouraged the attendees to give their feedback on the conference and to share ideas for presentations and what they would like to learn for next year’s conference.
This was a carefully planned and executed conference which was well attended for Indian River State College. Next year, they will more than likely double the number of attendees as it will no doubt grow in popularity.