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Women Leading Kentucky morning forum draws capacity crowd

Women Leading Kentucky Forum

The September 4th Women Leading Kentucky morning forum opened to a capacity crowd on the EKU campus. 

The morning forum and roundtable networking luncheon was designed to attract women entrepreneurs, leaders, thinkers, investors, givers, collaborators, and educators. The purpose was to create business and networking opportunities for women at all stages of their careers. Prominent female leaders in Kentucky were on hand to share experiences and provide networking opportunities with other professionals.

Hosted by the Kentucky Innovation Network at Richmond and the EKU Facilitation Center, the day began with a chance for the guests to network and enjoy a continental-style breakfast.

EKU President, Dr. Michael Benson, welcomed participants including a number of students sponsored through the program. He then turned the program over to Kristel Smith, Director of The Kentucky Innovation Network at Richmond, who introduced the four professional women selected to speak on the Entrepreneurial & Leadership Women’s Panel. 

  • Laurie Carter, JD, EKU Executive Vice President for Student Success. In her current post at EKU, Carter also serves as University Council. She previously worked as the first Chief Legal Officer and Chief Student Affairs Officer at Julliard. Carter has over thirty years of experience in higher education.  
  • Russie Jones, President and CEO, Opal Group LLC. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rely-a-Light Technologies. Jones and her husband developed an emergency light designed to come on in a power outage. 
  • Mandy Lambert, Commissioner, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. She is now the Commissioner for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and has over fifteen years of experience in overseeing programs that encourage new businesses across the state. 
  • Haley McCoy, Youth Services Director, Jackson Energy. McCoy is a Community and Economic Development Professional in southeastern Kentucky. She works for Jackson Energy Cooperative and is on the board of directors for organizations such as the Christian Appalachian Project and Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development. 

Each of these accomplished business women spoke about their past experiences in the workforce. The conversation moved into a group discussion on the future of women in southeastern Kentucky guided by Stefanie Ashley from the Facilitation Center. Group participants were first asked to list words describing women in southeastern Kentucky. It was agreed upon by many of the attendees that women in southeastern Kentucky are strong and resilient but face many challenges on a regular basis. The take home message was that it is important to continue to support the advancement of women in southeastern Kentucky with education and proper resources so that they can overcome their many challenges. 

Participants adjourned to the roundtable networking luncheon with time to visit exhibits displaying the work of several business women from the region. 

Highlighting the conference luncheon was keynote speaker Martha Layne Collins. As Kentucky’s first and only female governor, she made huge positive changes during her time in office. One of Collin’s greatest accomplishments was bringing the Toyota partnership to Kentucky and she continues her work as a prominent female leader in the state.

Published on September 08, 2014

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