Kati Townsley and Coleen Kramer Beal have been working on the women’s conference for three years (above).

by Ciara O’Brien photography by Nikola Tzenov

Several local women attended an “Emerge Women’s Conference” in Hanover, Pennsylvania, in 2019. It sparked the idea to explore a smaller scale conference geared toward women right here in Carroll County. After three years of planning and being rescheduled four times, the inaugural Carroll County Women’s Conference is scheduled to take place on Oct. 10 at McDaniel College.

The theme for the inaugural Carroll County Women’s Conference is “A Day of Enlightenment and Inspiration.”

Attendees at the one-day event will hear opening remarks from McDaniel College President Dr. Julia Jasken. The powerhouse of women scheduled to speak at the event include professionals in business, education, health and nonprofits.

“Whether you’re a retiree, young mother or an executive, as women we fulfill these different roles … but this conference will benefit any woman,” said Coleen Kramer Beal, chair of the steering committee.

Julie Gaver
photo supplied by Julie Gaver

Throughout the day, there will be four sessions with four talks available at each. Whether attendees are interested in navigating struggles with aging parents, financial literacy or the challenges that young girls are facing today, there is something for everyone.

“Every woman could find four out of eight of our topics of interest to them. … When you’re with a group of women, it becomes a space where those women can learn and grow,” said Kati Townsley, event coordinator.

Kramer Beal and Townsley have been working on the event for three years and are excited for it to finally come to fruition.

“The perseverance from a group of women to see something happen is what I find exciting,” said Kramer Beal.

COVID-19 took a large toll on events like these, and participants and organizers alike are looking forward to experiencing the conference in person.

“Barring monkeypox, or any other crazy thing, it’s finally happening,” said Kramer Beal.

The team is excited to bring forward productive and exciting conversations with so many different speakers, the majority of whom live in the area.

“Online events certainly have a place, but nothing takes the place of being together in a room and feeling the energy and excitement of the women who attend,” said Julie Gaver, a speaker at the event.

Gaver, a professional speaker and the author of the three-part book series “Must Love Shoes,” will deliver the keynote speech.

“I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I love the camaraderie that always develops when women show up ready to learn and have fun. I know I will feel that just as much in the audience listening to the other presenters as I will on the stage,” Gaver said.

Gaver’s keynote is titled “Everyday Magic: Finding More Joy in Your Life and Work.” She is well known for her high-energy presentations, self-deprecating humor and ability to connect with her audience in a meaningful way, characteristics she plans to take into
the conference.

“I’m a storyteller, and I share stories that I feel confident women from all walks of life will be able to relate to. I love humor, and if there is anything that has the power to enlighten and inspire, it’s a good laugh, especially after all that we have been through the past few years,” Gaver said.

To Kramer Beal and Townsley’s surprise, event registration sold out in just six weeks. People are joining the growing waitlist. Proceeds from the conference will benefit scholarships for female students at Carroll Community College and McDaniel College.

“We are so excited to bring a group of 225 dynamic women to have them collaborate, network and celebrate each other,” said Kramer Beal.

Plans are already in the works for next year’s conference. Kramer Beal and Townsley hope to have a new date chosen before the Oct. 10 event. The largest concern is finding a space large enough to host the amount of interest in the county.

“Demand is high, and that is a wonderful thing. It was so rewarding to realize that it wasn’t some crazy thought; there’s a real need and appeal in our community,”
said Townsley.

Despite the trials and tribulations, those involved in the conference are excited and optimistic for the future.

“I predict this inaugural conference will be the beginning of something special that we will look forward to every year and I’m honored to be part of it,” said Gaver.

Although the event is sold out, those who are still interested can join the waitlist available at ccwomensconference.org/. There are also still sponsorship opportunities available for those who are interested in supporting the conference financially. Sponsors will be featured in the program, whether they are in attendance or not.