Goal of new women’s conference is to inspire, empower

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PORTLAND — The first-ever Maine Women’s Conference is designed to bring  women together from all walks of life and inspire and empower them “to assume new and expanded roles in the workforce, (their) lives and communities,” according to organizers.

The all-day event will be held Wednesday, May 9, at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland and will offer Maine women “ongoing inspiration and motivation as they chase their personal and professional dreams,” according to Abbie McGilvery, the conference spokeswoman.

Tickets are $125 per person and include lunch, as well as two keynote speakers and access to “breakout sessions and an interactive exhibition hall (that) will provide insight and advice on relevant topics for women seeking guidance in professional and personal development,” according to the event website.

The keynote speakers, Caroline Paul and Maysoon Zayid, will “share their stories, provide inspiration, and make us laugh,” McGilvery said. “Both keynote speakers have released TED Talks and they both inspire women around the world to challenge the status quo, create change and speak up for what they believe.”

Paul is a best-selling author whose most recent book “inspires girls to break the rules, take risks and accept seemingly insurmountable challenges,” the conference website states. Zayid is a comedian, actress, writer and disability advocate. She was also a full-time contributor to “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and a columnist for “The Daily Beast.”

“We are currently the only all-day conference for women in Maine, and what makes us especially unique is our careful selection of keynote speakers and breakout session speakers from around New England,” McGilvery said.

“We’ve also worked into the conference a number of pause and reflect moments, led by Elizabeth Ross Hostrom, to keep our attendees energized, connected and motivated throughout the day,” she added.

The 12 breakout sessions focus on topics like leadership, building a quality social media profile, negotiating skills, building self-confidence and more.

The overall goal of the event, according to McGilvery, is for attendees to “leave the conference with new ideas, inspiration and connections to help keep the momentum going when they get back to their (normal lives).”

And, McGilvery said, the Maine Women’s Conference is not just focused on the upcoming event. “We are a whole new women’s organization in the making.”

She said the idea for the conference was born when a small group of women from Maine attended a similar affair in Massachusetts last year. (We all thought:) ‘we should do something similar in Maine,” McGilvery said.

The Maine Women’s Conference board was created from that original group of women, she said. Then “more members of the community stepped up to volunteer their time to be a part of our efforts” and from there, “the conference idea grew in size and depth.”

The hope is that the conference will not just attract professional women. “Everyone is welcome,” McGilvery said. “Our goal is to attract a culturally diverse group of Maine women (who will) connect, educate, inspire and empower” each other.

“There has been incredible excitement around the caliber of keynote speakers and the diversity of topics being covered in the breakout sessions,” she added.

In addition, other women’s organizations, like the Maine Women’s Network, Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Coastal Women’s Healthcare, and more “have joined our efforts to make the conference outstanding.”

“(We want) to inspire women to follow their dreams, goals (and) passions and not let others define what those things are for them,” McGilvery said.

“We believe that empowering women strengthens society,” the conference website says. “We believe in every women’s potential. We believe in the value of bringing women together (and) we believe that all women (can be) leaders.”

This story has been updated to reflect the correct day of the week.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.