Inspire Conference: This May

This May, the Washington Center for Women in Business (WCWB) is excited to announce the 5th annual Inspire Conference!  Inspire is an annual event focused on women entrepreneurs and business owners, providing an incomparable opportunity for them to share their experiences, build community, and share strategies for success. This year the virtual conference will have a panel of five speakers, along with a keynote delivered by the celebrated inspirational speaker, Certified Professional Coach, and author, Ivy Woolf Turk. 

Inspire sticks close to the WCWB’s broad mission of facilitating women-owned and gender-fair businesses and organizations. WCWB program manager Robin Houde shared that INSPIRE’s featured speakers and the organizations they’ve built represent a different way of thinking about the ways that women engage with each other in this modern context. 

“A lot of what the WCWB does is about community building and authentic transparency,” Houde says, “but the INSPIRE Conference is about creating a radically inclusive space to talk about things like resiliency and trust among women, and each speaker is bringing her own real experience to the table.” 

Robin says that the way the conference has come together is a real demonstration of its central themes, which are centered on the ways that women can support other women. 

“I can email Christie (CEO of the Witi Group and CJL Consults, LLC) for example, and she’s happy to answer questions, happy to be supportive, happy to make connections. It was eye-opening, to be surrounded by women who truly are advocates for other women. The community does exist.” 

Robin was able to connect with Ivy Woolf Turk through similar means. Ms. Turk will bring her incredibly wide-ranging experience to the keynote, as Robin saw firsthand when Turk spoke at the recent Be Bold Now conference.  

“I reached out to her to see if she wanted to appear, and she said yes right away. It’s part of that sense of women helping women,” Houde said. 

Ivy Woolf Turk is particularly focused on lifting all women up, especially in an entrepreneurial setting. Her background showed her a great deal about some of the problems that go along with gentrification and development, and she realized that the stance of fierce, every-woman-for-herself competition that was a holdover from the 80s and 90s needed to be reconsidered, because it was leaving a lot of women behind. 

“In a lot of ways, we’re still stuck on the idea that women can only succeed with this phenomenal display of individual grit and strength, and of course that can help, but all of our speakers are proof that this probably isn’t the best way forward anymore,” Robin says. 

Robin Lucas, of Showcase Media, and Christie Lawler, the CEO of CJL Consults, LLC and Witi Group will share their experiences as women succeeding in business. Susan Gates and Kate Isler will also be appearing. Gates and Isler are co-founders of the W Marketplace, an e-commerce platform for women owned/gender fair businesses, and Isler is the founder and president of Be Bold Now. 

In addition to the speakers and the keynote address, WCWB will host a raffle with prizes and social networking opportunities. The INSPIRE conference is open to everyone, and tickets start at just $15. Last year’s conference drew over 200 attendees passionate about business and supporting one another, again this year it is sure to be incredible. Sponsored by WSECU and many other generous community organizations.  

Visit www.inspireconference.org to register, learn more about the speakers, or to become a community event sponsor.  

Welcoming Robin Houde to the WCWB

The Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) is pleased to announce that  Robin Houde has assumed the position of Program Manager for the Washington Center for  Women in Business (WCWB.) The Washington Center for Women in Business is a program whose mission is to empower entrepreneurs to succeed in business by providing coaching, training, and technical assistance on a wide variety of topics. The WCWB is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

Houde brings a diverse background of education, small business management and marketing experience. Houde began as a volunteer with the WCWB, and accepted the role of Administrative Specialist at the WCWB in March of 2020. She was then named Creative Strategist in May 2020.  

A Thurston County local, Houde is well connected and brings an existing network to the WCWB. She handles marketing and outreach, manages the social media and program oversight of Let’s Talk Business, and offers social media, branding and design coaching. As an Evergreen State College student, she focused the first half of her degree on psychology and health sciences while transitioning her second half towards business and community outreach. 

“I am passionate about building meaningful community relationships and serving the public and  I’m so excited to be able to help provide the resources and guidance to empower women  entrepreneurs,” says Houde. Thurston County is excited to have her on the team, and is looking forward to her work in the near future!