WED Colorado Summit Inspires Female Students, Entrepreneurs, Leaders

Daniela Ibarra-Hernandez, student marketing assistant for the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, shares her experience at the all-day event that celebrated female entrepreneurship and inspiration.

By Daniela Ibarra-Hernandez, student marketing assistant at the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship

On Friday, Jan. 20, more than 100 students, founders, and business leaders from across Colorado came together to network, listen, and learn from successful female entrepreneurs. Doors to the CU Denver Business School’s Jake Jabs Event Center opened at 8:00 a.m. to welcome high school and college students from across the Denver metro area, and nearly every seat was taken by the time Olivia Omega, the event’s emcee and Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at the Denver Scholarship Foundation, took the stage to make opening introductions with Simone D. Ross, CEO of Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Morning Breakout Sessions

After opening remarks and a young female entrepreneurs’ panels, most of the event consisted of breakout sessions in which each speaker had the chance to share their stories and pieces of advice based on their experiences working in different industries. These smaller group sessions also created the opportunity for attendees to ask questions, network, and connect with speakers one-on-one.

Breakout session topics and speakers included:

  • “Enhance Your Networking Through Storytelling” with Dianne Myles, CEO at Dope Mom Life
  • “Communication is More Than What You Think” with Patsy Landaveri, founder and CEO at Impacto
  • “3 Keys to Building Your Confidence as an Entrepreneur” with Anna Brekken, owner at AnnaMade Design Co.
  • “Bringing Passion & Vision Together to Make a Difference” with Laura Fooks, co-founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Light Speaks Loudest
  • “The Art of Connecting & Collaborating” with Meghann Conter, founder and Chief Laugh Instigator at The Dames, and Kami Guildner, founder at Kami Guildner Coaching and Extraordinary Women Events

I chose to attend the first session, “Enhance Your Networking Through Storytelling” with Dianne Myles, CEO of Dope Mom Life. Myles spoke about the power of being approachable and “the power of a stranger” — how you should never be the smartest one in the room because then you will never learn. She spoke about not caring about what people think of you and how you should always be a part the conversation, even if it makes you nervous. Myles spoke beautifully to the group of young girls, and it was truly a moving experience to take part in. She made attendees feel welcome and important to the conversation; not like they were being lectured. She is also incredibly funny! Overall, this breakout session made me feel empowered, and it changed my perspective on what it means to me a woman in business. Her words have stuck with me since, and I cannot wait to see how I apply them in my future as a woman in business.

Afternoon Keynote and Workshops

Following lunch, Omega introduced the day’s keynote speakers: Tish and Snooky Bellomo, co-founders and co-presidents at Manic Panic, a New York-based alternative beauty brand that creates vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics and hair coloring. Tish and Snooky shared their past experiences and the many trials and errors that got them to the success that they have today. “We don’t just sell it, we live it!” Tish and Snooky spoke about the importance of identifying yourself within your business and how it should always be a representation of yourself. When speaking about their crazy New York lifestyle and how they have never been afraid to be their authentic selves, they emphasized the importance of aligning their brand with their values. As they wrapped up their keynote, it felt like the room started to buzz with energy!

Omega then introduced our group leadership workshop, “Developing the Leader Within,” led by Amy Duncan, co-founder and Certified Financial Planner at Team Duncan Financial. Attendees were paired off into pairs and small groups for a series of challenges focused on team building, trust, and vulnerability. Attendees dove deep into this workshop and spoke about theirs personal struggles and conflicts. We practiced vulnerability in these challenges by bringing down what instructor Amy called our “cool shield.” Attendees left the workshop feeling accomplished and with some new friends.

After returning to our seats, Omega and Sylvia Scott, organizer and CEO of the Girls’ C.E.O. Connection, discussed their successes and aspirations during and after their educational years. They shared their trials and tribulations along the way and provided attendees with advice and their personal tips and tricks on how to overcome obstacles and continue to be the best entrepreneur they can be. As we came to the end of the event, I couldn’t help but notice the confidence of the young women around me growing throughout the room and the excitement that filled their voices as they talked about their future aspirations and goals.

At the end of the event, attendees had the opportunity to follow up with many of the speakers and share their experience with volunteers and organizers. The WED Colorado Summit was an amazing experience, and one that I hope to keep having here at the CU Denver Business School. Thank you to our fellow sponsors, organizers, vendors, and attendees! If the young women at this event are the future for female entrepreneurship, then it’s sure to have a very bright future ahead.

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