Ladies First: PA Conference for Women celebrates its 10th Anniversary of helping women be the best they can be
ABOVE PHOTO: Linda Cilatt-Wayman
By Denise Clay
Before Sen. John Kerry became the most recent Secretary of State, the last three people to hold the office had one thing in common.
All three of them—Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton—were women. Albright, who served in the office during President Bill Clinton’s administration, was the first woman to serve in the office.
On Friday, two of these women, Albright and Clinton, will be in Philadelphia as part of the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, which will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
With a theme of “Power of Possibilities: Define Your Own Success”, the conference, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is a gathering of regional, national and internationally known powerhouse women who share their knowledge on a variety of topics ranging from how to start your own business to how to achieve work/life balance. About 7,000 women are expected to attend.
Because this marks the conference’s 10th anniversary, put together a wish list of speakers that included some really heavy hitters, said Leslie Stiles, board president of the non-profit organization that organizes the conference. They were fortunate to get them all, but were especially glad to get Clinton.
“It was special to get her,” Stiles said. “A lot of people try to get her and don’t, but we’re thrill that we did. [Clinton] is iconic. I don’t care if you’re a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, Clinton speaks to you because she speaks to women in leadership.”
But while Clinton was the biggest name that organizers aimed for, she wasn’t the only one. Some of the conference’s most popular past keynote speakers including Albright, television jurist Judge Glenda Hatchett, and Wall Street wiz Sally Krawcheck will also be on hand.
Also participating as a keynote speaker is Strawberry Mansion High School Principal Linda Cilatt-Wayman. She was brought on because, well, Strawberry Mansion, one of the schools slated for closure by the School District of Philadelphia, is still open.
“She was able to save a school in a compromised area at the height of the educational crisis with little more than her own talent and gumption,” Stiles said. “It speaks to dedication to maintaining the community, her strength as a person and as an education provider. I look forward to hearing from her.”
The conference was created 10 years ago when Stiles was a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Women. During Gov. Ed. Rendell’s administration, he was approached with the idea of a conference that focused on women’s issues.
And while much has changed for women in the 10 years the conference has been going on, much is still the same. Women make up 51.3 percent of the Commonwealth’s population and 34.9 percent of them are heads of households.
Yet, women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes here in Pennsylvania and educated women here in the Commonwealth make roughly 59 percent of what men with similar education make here.
Once she left the Commonwealth, Stiles maintained the conference and turned it into a non-profit, non-partisan organization, she said.
In addition to the keynote speakers, there will be 100 speakers sharing their information in various breakout sessions that focus on topics including how to brand yourself, how to create your own business, climbing the corporate ladder and how to live a “green” life.
The day-long event is sponsored by the following: Beneficial, Cisco, QVC, Drexel University’s LaBow College of Business, Independence Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Comcast/NBC-10, EY, PECO Energy, Master Card, ACE, Acme, AmeriSource Bergen, State Street, Astra Zeneca, DLA Piper, Wells Fargo, AmeriHealth Caritas, Dow, Amtrak, Jefferson University Hospital, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Property Trust, M&T Bank, Penn Medicine, PNC Bank, Citizens Bank, Pa. Liquor Control Board, Radian, Stradley Ronon, Be Well Philly, Premier Luxury Rentals, Shire, the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, US Airways, Clear Channel, Hail Merry, Philadelphia Magazine, and Tierney.
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