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WREN Summit: Women in the Workforce

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Columbia Marriott

1200 Hampton Street

Columbia, SC 29201

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On April 3rd and 4th, the Women's Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) will host the inaugural WREN Summit. The theme of this year's Summit is "Women in the Workforce."

This Summit will offer an in-depth look into the barriers, benefits and challenges that women face when entering and advancing in the workforce in South Carolina.

The Summit will begin on Monday, April 3, with a presentation by Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen (University of South Carolina, Moore School of Business) on new research on the current gender differences in the South Carolina workforce and the potential economic benefits to the state over the next decade from closing existing gender gaps in the workforce. High-level panel discussions and skill-based breakout sessions will follow.

On Tuesday, April 4, participants will have the opportunity to learn new advocacy skills and meet with elected officials to encourage them to advance women's health, economic well-being, rights, and opportunities. WREN staff and volunteers will escort advocates to the Statehouse to meet with members of the General Assembly.

WREN Summit Agenda

Coffee and Continental Breakfast

Summit Welcome: Ann Warner, CEO, WREN

Research Presentation: Solving SC's Labor Shortage: The Economic Impact of Increasing Women's Participation in the Workforce

Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen, Research Economist, University of South Carolina, Moore School of Business

Supporting Women in the Workplace

This panel of experts will reflect on the findings of “Solving SC’s Labor Shortage” and discuss how the findings from the report are reflected in their industries and their experiences.

Dr. Christine Crawford, Owner/Operator, D&G Management

Lou Kennedy, Owner, Nephron Pharmaceuticals

Laura Varn, former Vice President of Human Resources for Santee Cooper

Mary Beth Westmoreland, Chief Technology Officer, Blackbaud

Moderated by Ann Marie Stieritz, Chief Impact Officer, Liberty Fellowship

Concurrent Breakout Sessions 1

Lunch and Conversation on Educating SC Women for 21st Century Workforce

This panel of experts will reflect upon the education and training needed to close the persistent gender gaps in our workforce.

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, Director of Business Development, Clemson University Restoration Institute

Moryah Jackson, Assistant Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement, University of South Carolina

Susan Pretulak, Vice President of Economic Development and Workforce Competitiveness, SC Technical College System

Breaking Barriers in the Workforce

What could be the potential impact on our state if barriers to women’s participation in the workforce were removed? This diverse group of experts and community leaders will discuss the opportunities to overcome economic, legal, and heal-related barriers to workforce participation and advancement.

Dr. Deborah Billings, Director, Choose Well Initiative

Malissa Burnette, Attorney and Partner, Callison Tighe & Robinson

Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter, Vice President of Initiatives & Public Policy, Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC

Dr. Amy Crockett, Attending Physician in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Greenville Health Systems

Tamara King, Community Relations Director, Richland Library

Moderated by Anita Garrett, Director of Financial Stability, United Way

Concurrent Breakout Session 2

Snack Break

Wrap Up: Eme Crawford, Director of Communications and Learning, WREN


Breakout Session Descriptions

Bold Change Through Women’s Leadership

Change is possible through the dedication of a strong leader who knows how to speak across the gender gap and identify and leverage both visible and invisible power. Learn what it takes to create bold change in South Carolina.

Jane Perdue, CEO/Founder, The Jane Group

Thetyka Robinson, Founder / Chief Strategist, PinkMoon Marketing + Consulting

Women in Politics – Running for Office

Considering a run for political office? Learn about the pathway to politics and ask questions for women who have run and won campaigns in South Carolina.

Rep. Katie Arrington, R-District 94

Amanda Loveday, Senior Project Manager, NP Strategy

Sen. Mia McLeod, D-District 22

Ali Titus, Awareness and Advocacy Manager, Center for Women

Media Training

Talking to the media can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. Join a media expert as we discuss how to most effectively navigate interviews.

Meaghan Norman, Media Relations Manager, NP Strategy

Communication in the Workplace

Walk with an experienced career coach through a journey of how to respond to microaggressions in the workplace, establish healthy expectations and boundaries in professional interactions, find your value, and put it into action through salary negotiation.

MelissaAnne Cunningham Sereque, President, Motivation & Achievement Concepts

Tuesday, April 4

Coffee and Continental Breakfast

Welcome and opening remarks by Dr. Katrina Spigner

Issue Education - Healthy Youth Act

Beth De Santis, CEO, South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Megan Plassmeyer, Community Engagement Coordinator, WREN

Issue Education - Pregnancy Accommodations Act and 12-Month Supply of Contraception

Andrea Johnson, Equal Justice Works Fellow, National Women’s Law Center

Melissa Davis, Policy and Media Associate, WREN

Issue Education - Equal Pay

Andrea Johnson, Equal Justice Works Fellow, National Women’s Law Center

Ashley Lidow, Associate Director of Policy and Government Relations, WREN

Best Practices for Talking with Legislators

Dr. Eme Crawford, Director of Communications and Learning, WREN

Role play speaking with legislators in small groups


Remarks by Molly Spearman, SC Superintendent of Education

Group Picture on the Statehouse Steps

Advocacy Day at the Statehouse

Happy hour

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Columbia Marriott

1200 Hampton Street

Columbia, SC 29201

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