Carmel Welcomes Back the UNConference

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July 2018


Writer // Janelle Morrison

Photography // Courtesy of Social Media Dames, Faith Blackwell Photography and submitted

The 7th Annual UNconference, presented by Digital Dames, Inc., Yuspie, LLC, and ATI Workshops, will be held in the Robert Adam Room at The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Friday, August 3. Carmel resident Amy Stark, CEO of Digital Dames, Inc., and Dr. Erin Albert, both co-founders, will host 100 women in sharing their social media expertise and stories. The UNconference will feature a list of 18 influential “storytellers” in established “triads,” including Nancy Heck, director of community relations and economic development for the City of Carmel, and MaryJayne Waddell, director of education at Actors Theatre of Indiana.

The UNconference’s format is designed to create a learning environment in an effective and entertaining way. The storytellers will share a five-minute story with a bit of wisdom to help everyone in the room learn digital skills. New to the format this year, Stark and Albert have developed a “Dude Triad” that includes Gerry Dick, co-founder at Grow INdiana Media Ventures and president and managing editor of “Inside INdiana Business”; Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, attorney, political writer/radio/TV commentator, comedian and professor; and Greg Cooper, manager/broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Real Estate and WTHR Channel 13 real estate expert.

Stark and Albert first connected via Twitter several years ago and were tweeting one night about their perception that the social media industry, particularly locally in Indiana, lacked the presence of women in large scale.

Dr. Erin Albert

“I’m a pragmatist, and she’s [Amy] is the philosopher,” Albert said. “That’s why we work well together. As an educator, one thing that drives me crazy is we love to complain about things, but we never fix anything. So Amy and I decided we’re going to stop complaining and do something about this, and that’s the genesis of Social Media Dames from my side of the fence.”

Stark added, “The UNconference is about teaching women how to leverage digital communications to benefit themselves, their families and their careers and the rest of the world. This is the first year we’re having a ‘Dude Triad.’ We’ve got Gerry Dick, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz and Greg Cooper. I think we need to be inclusive and include the dude perspective as part of the format.”

“We were really thoughtful about whom to ask to be storytellers,” Albert said. “We worked really hard at finding women and men with tribes of their own this year.”

Amy Stark

Both Stark and Albert thanked the City of Carmel for their sponsorship this year and for providing the venue. “The City sponsored the space at the Palladium for us,” Stark shared. “It’s a beautiful space and facility.”








Nancy Heck, Director of Community Relations and Economic Development for the City of Carmel

Nancy Heck will be returning to the UNconference as a three-time storyteller. “I like the fact that Erin and Amy work very hard at getting a diverse group of women together, and that allows for a very lively dialogue and exposure to areas that I don’t deal with on a daily basis,” Heck shared. “That helps to inspire new ideas from a variety of sources. We [the City] love having people come for conferences, the UNconference in this case, especially when they occur in the City Center area. It gives people that don’t typically travel through this area or spend time here an opportunity to see how the city has developed and grown.”

MaryJayne (MJ) Waddell, Director of Education at Actors Theatre of Indiana

A portion of this year’s UNconference sponsorship proceeds will be given to the Actors Theatre of Indiana. “Amy and Erin are sharing their gifts with everybody,” Waddell said. “Amy has been amazingly helpful to me personally as I’m learning more about social media with my limited knowledge of computers. I’ve had to figure it out because everyone needs to have some knowledge of it nowadays. She has also been so gracious with giving me a portion of whatever sponsorships I bring in to the educational programs of ATI. The more we raise, the more we can put towards scholarships.”

Greg Cooper, Manager/Broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Real Estate and WTHR Channel 13 real estate expert

Cooper mentioned that his “story” will relate to women’s impact not only on social media but in the real estate industry as a whole. “I’m going to share how in my industry, women’s influence in it has the power to change peoples’ lives,” Cooper said. “I think in an era of #MeToo, whenever we can have events that help us recognize that there are some good parts to the culture in terms of how we respect ourselves and different genders, I think we have to celebrate and raise the bars on all of those things. I think that events like the UNconference where we talk about the entrepreneurial vision and where women’s place is in it and where their successes are in it, I think are really good things, which is why I want to be a part of this.”

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, Attorney, Political Writer/Radio/TV Commentator, Comedian and Professor

Shabazz is excited to share his knowledge and experience with making social media work for individuals in a way that not only grows their brands but also their bottom lines. “I know one of the biggest challenges for people is how do you take your social media and, to a certain degree, make it more than a hobby but less than a job?” Shabazz shared. “How do you use it to build your brand, and how do use that to make a little bit of pocket change on the side? For some strange reason, I’ve actually managed to do that and turn all of this into a little bit of a moneymaking venture. I’ve always thought that if you can do what you like and make some money off of it, you’re in a really good place.”


For more information about the Fifth Anniversary Social Media Dames UNconference, contact Amy Stark at 317-430-9033.

Visit the Social Media Dames Facebook page for up-to-the-minute information on ticket sales and storytellers: