While some women are pinching themselves to see if the recent surge of empowerment is alive and well, others are giving it a pulse. College of the Canyons is showing us the life-giving effects of a focus on females with its popular Women’s Conference, held March 17, which happens to be St. Patrick’s Day.
It may take the luck o’ the Irish to be among the first 150 women to register for the event, held at the College of the Canyons University Center, which has limited space, so there’s a limit to crowd size.
The all-day gathering is by women, for women, and about women. Joking about it being a sort of “spa day,” Diane Fiero, assistant superintendent/vice president, human resources, has an overarching goal.
“We always look at this as a day of inspiration,” said Fiero, who heads the Women’s Conference. “Helping to motivate people. … We feel it’s a responsibility to provide that feeling every year.”
“Making the Most of Your Life” is the theme, which covers a multitude of aspects. Attendees have a choice of 6-7 breakout sessions per time slot. The keynote speaker is Lisa Welker-Finney, with a panel of her colleagues from Boston Scientific. The local company is the title sponsor for the event, and without such support, Fiero said, it would be impossible to hold the conference.
Every year the Women’s Conference has a career track, covering skill-building and facilitating mid-life changes. This year there’s a session about starting an online business.
“What’s topical and timely” is a high priority, Fiero said. “Supporting women at various stages of their careers.”
There is a buffet breakfast and lunch, and for women who like to shop – about 15 vendors open all day. Mostly woman-owned businesses, they will be selling everything from personal safety items to shoes, clothes and handbags. (And excusing the female stereotyping with a wink and a nod), one of the most popular sessions is on makeup application.
Well, it’s not the seaweed-wrap, cucumber-on-the-eyelids sort of a day, but even a hard grader would give the college an “A” for scope. Breakout sessions include a speaker who managed to make a career move from engineer to writer, producer and casting director … and there are talks on attaining your dreams, what recruiters are looking for, and finding your ancestors.
“Genealogy has been really hot the last couple of years,” Fiero said. “That one’s always full. And we’re trying some new things. We have a belly dance session and we have a self-defense class.”
Some of the more serious topics are elder care and resources for rape crisis victims. And Fiero said they typically receive positive feedback about life coach Doris Marie Zimmer’s annual presentations.
The Women’s Conference has evolved, the COC administrator explained. Some years ago, the keynote speaker drew attention to violence caused by tungsten mining in Africa. And because tungsten was used in manufacturing technological products, it tied to the American economy, which brought her global message home.
Kamala Lopez, director of the documentary “Equal Means Equal” is a former conference speaker, and previous attendees have heard from female inventors and leaders in STEM fields. This year, two of the sessions will address the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements.
“It’s such a positive environment to serve the women in our community,” Fiero said. “And informative – we don’t want it to just be fluff. We’re trying to make sure we offer what appeals to everyone.”
Andrea Slominski of Santa Clarita, who conducts “Midlife Reboot!” groups, will lead a session called “Regency: The New Life Stage of Women 45-70.”
“Regency is a time that is actually encoded into the bodies and psyches of women,” explained Slominski, M.A., whose doctoral research is on the subject. “In midlife, many women feel the pull to refocus their energies on themselves and what is important to them. … Our bodies and our minds are programmed for this change.”
Slominski’s session will underscore her belief in the power that regent women have, financially, politically and personally.
“We have the unprecedented opportunity of another 20-30 years of creative, productive engagement in the world,” she said. “A longer lifespan, with all of its possibilities, has inspired a personal renaissance for many women, to the betterment of society.”
Investing time to experience that renaissance is a greater cost to most women than the $35 fee.
“The value for the money is definitely there,” Fiero said. “I know moms out there who are really busy, and working women who are busy, and their weekends are like gold to them. But it is worth the time.”
Assuming the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is what awaits those lucky enough to attend the conference, it makes this Irishwoman re-think her plans for March 17. And keeping in mind what the four-leaf clover stands for – faith, hope, love & luck – I’m hoping when I log on to sign up, I’ll be in clover. Registration is at https://www.canyons.edu/Conferences/WC/Pages/registration.aspx.
Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal and serves as editor for three local publications. She has been writing professionally for decades and is the author of “Canyon Country” by Arcadia Publishing.