By: Joleene DesRosiers Moody, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – The wind and rain didn’t hold back close to 90 women on Tuesday for the highly anticipated ‘Connections’ conference at the American Foundry in Oswego.
The conference was designed to bring women of all ages and backgrounds together to explore their place and power within their professions. And with six dynamic speakers on tap, attendees weren’t disappointed.
“It was a great networking experience as a woman business owner,” said Leisha Tedford Doherty of ‘Her Heartbeat Counseling & Wellness Coaching. “I walked away with not only new connections, but new friendships too.”
The theme of this year’s conference was overcoming fear, managing risk and maintaining growth.
Keynote speaker Susan Bertrand shared the story of her sister’s death from cancer, which spawned the birth of her non-profit foundation, ‘Maureen’s Hope.’
The foundation offers support and assistance to people within the Central New York community facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis or life altering disease.
Equally compelling was the story of how she overcame her fear of cycling after she suffered near-death injuries during a 100-mile race that put her in a coma for two and a half weeks.
Despite her trials, she was able to fight past the fear and ride again – along side her hero and mentor, Lance Armstrong.
“Despite what is going on with him in the press, I can tell you that the man I met is kind and compassionate. He started Livestrong before he even rode in the Tour de France. As for the conference, it was so empowering to be amongst a group of women not afraid to share their adversities, laughter and life experiences both professionally and personally. We have so much to learn from each other,” Bertrand said.
Other speakers talked about overcoming fear to further themselves in business, the importance of networking, and the power of utilizing social media.
“I learned about fear from different perspectives and how changes I make today will impact my life tomorrow,” Tedford Doherty added. “Social media is very important for business success and this conference gave hands-on advice that can impact our businesses today. Each of the speakers shared in their own authentic ways, and that made the take-away more impactful and user friendly for me as a woman and an entrepreneur.”
While the impending storm shut down schools and cancelled evening events on Monday, the steering committee for ‘Connections’ pondered canceling the event.
Jessica Hofschulte, part of the steering committee and owner of ‘The Main Event,’ said the dedication by fellow organizers only proves the bond women entrepreneurs have for one another.
“Monday began with the concern of the storm and wondering the fate of the conference we had all spent so much time planning,” she said. “Dianne Stancampiano, another planning member, drove 13 hours through the storm because her flight was cancelled just to get here. All to do make-up for our attendees taking part in a photo sitting.
“I was deeply touched by each presenter with the depth that they shared their personal stories of overcoming fear,” Hofschulte continued. “So much that I felt like I was filled with a room full of friends and family that I had known forever. This was a conference like no other that I had been to, where I felt connected personally to the speakers and attendees. I am so eager to connect with these wonderful, successful and inspiring women!”
Several vendors were on hand for attendees to visit and enjoy in between speakers. Major sponsors of the event were Alliance Bank, NA, Operation Oswego County, Inc., SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center, The Main Event, Joleene Speaks and Women TIES.