More than 400 attendees participated in the first Women's Leadership Conference, hosted by Coastal Carolina University's Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WIPL). The conference and the Celebration of Inspiring Women were held on Friday, March 25 at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa at Grande Dunes.
The day-long conference featured 17 speakers who presented personal stories about topics ranging from entrepreneurial leadership and empowerment to healthy image and work/life balance. The speakers waived their fees as their gift to the conference in order to help ensure its continuation. During the evening event, the Celebration of Inspiring Women dinner, nine South Carolina women were honored for their life work. More than 300 attended the evening celebration.
The events were designed to create pathways for positive social, political and economic change by providing an arena where leaders and emerging leaders can meet to develop and nurture alliances and connections across all boundaries.
"It's difficult to put into words how it felt to walk into the room full of women who were so accomplished," said Terri DeCenzo, executive director of Women in Philanthropy and Leadership. "They were empowered, energized and ready to share their journey without any thought of what it cost them, and I saw how they were touched by the stories they heard. I stepped away feeling we had made an impact for one day, and it was just the beginning of what we can bring to our students, our state and our nation."
"As we look ahead, the presence of more than 400 people and the overwhelming feedback of support made it evident that this is a program and a journey we will continue together."
The events raised $12,588 in scholarship funds resulting from sponsorships and a silent auction. Sponsorships also provided the opportunity for 62 CCU students to participate in the conference and for 44 to attend the evening celebration.
The Women's Leadership Conference featured:
* Sharyn Alfonsi, ABC News correspondent- master of ceremonies
* Shannon Andrews, Regional General Manager for Walmart U.S.
* Kristin Bohan, Ph.D., licensed psychologist experienced in helping gi
rls and women with eating disorders, body image issues, anxiety and depression
* Margaret Booth, president of M. Booth and Associates, a New York public relations firm
* Mignon Clyburn, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission
* Patricia R. Hatler, executive vice president and chief legal and governance officer of Nationwide Insurance and served as 2009-2010 chair of the board of directors of the Association of Corporate Counsel
* Kaye Hearn, South Carolina Supreme Court Justice
* Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, first woman chair of the American Red Cross, founder and CEO of Pace Communications and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland
* Melody Fogerty, senior director of human resources for the Eastern Seaboard division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
* Mary M. Kennemur, president of JHS Capital Advisors, Wealth Management Group
* Lisa Kinon, family court judge for South Carolina's 15th Judicial Circuit
* Charlotte R. Lane, commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission
* Marlene Schwartz, Ph.D., deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University
* Kim Brown Strickland, vice president of Walmart US Financial Planning & Analysis
* Donna R. Tyson, international motivational speaker and author
* Mary Agnes Wilderotter, chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications, formerly senior vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, member of board of directors for Xerox Corporation, member of board of directors for Proctor & Gamble, appointed by President Barack Obama as vice chair of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee
* Jennifer Wilson, chief judge of the Myrtle Beach Municipal Court
The Celebration of Inspiring Women honored:
* S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, honored for making history in becoming South Carolina's first female governor. Gov. Haley was elected the 116th governor of South Carolina on Nov. 2, 2010. She was first elected as a state representative to serve the 87th district in Lexington County in 2004. Haley was named "Friend of the Taxpayer" (2009) by the S.C. Association of Taxpayers and a "Taxpayer Hero" (2005) by Gov. Mark Sanford.
* Vivian Ayers-Allen, honored for her commitment and contributions to literary arts, for facilitating and promoting artistic efforts of others and for her preservation of an important South Carolina cultural landmark. Ayers-Allen is a poet, cultural activist and founding director of the "Brainerd Institute Project." She has been recognized by the Cambridge Who's Who for dedication, leadership and excellence in her career.
* Maria G. Buse, M.D., honored for her groundbreaking work in medical research and for her efforts to forge new roles for women and create opportunities for future generations. Buse has been an Medical University of South Carolina faculty member since 1957 and is the first woman in MUSC's 179-year history to receive the honor of Distinguished University Professor in 2003.
* Mignon Clyburn, honored for her commitment to public service and dedication to the public interest.
* Brig. Gen. Darlene Marie Goff, honored for her dedicated service to the people of South Carolina for opening new frontiers for women's military leadership in the Palmetto State. Goff made history when she was promoted from colonel to brigadier general on Jan. 7, 2011, becoming the first female general officer in the South Carolina National Guard.
* S.C. State Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn, honored for effecting change through her visionary leadership within the public sector. Hearn made history in 2000 when she became the first female chief judge of the Court of Appeals.
* U.S. Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, honored for her extraordinary leadership in solving pressing challenges both domestically and globally, as well as for her professional leadership and consistent commitment to excellence.
* Frances Scott, honored for her selfless commitment to her children and for serving as an inspiration to mothers everywhere who nurture, encourage and support their children's success. Scott is the mother of U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, (R-SC) District 117.
WIPL conference and celebration committee members also surprised DeCenzo with the first Inspiring Woman award. In the future,WIPL intends for the honor to be named the Terri DeCenzo Inspiring Woman Award. In addition, the Terri DeCenzo Life and Legacy scholarship will also be awarded.
Gold sponsors of the WIPL Conference and Celebration included The Brandon Agency and WPDE News Channel 15. Silver sponsors included the Frugal Princess Boutique, Nationwide Insurance, The Sun News and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Bronze sponsors included Aramark and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Carole and John Sanders Tech-Ed Fund sponsored the Internet Café during the conference, and Costco provided the afternoon break.