The Indiana Conference for Women

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Writer  /  Kara Reibel


Keynote speaker Kathy Ireland, CEO and Chief Designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide

Billie Dragoo and Deborah Collins Stephens created the Indiana Conference for Women (ICW) to create a platform for women to connect, engage, discover, get inspired and innovate.

Dragoo was named one of the top 10 women entrepreneurs in our nation by Fortune Magazine. She was a winner of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur’s Award, former national Chairwoman and CEO of NAWBO and her firm Repucare was recently cited as one of the fastest growing in the nation.

Collins Stephens is a best-selling author of six books. As an executive coach and leadership development expert, she has worked with CEOs and entrepreneurs across the nation.

It was their vision that brought this conference to life four years ago.

The list of speakers is a “Who’s Who” of national and state leaders, business owners, authors and top executives who shared their stories and experiences. Here are comments and quotes overheard at the event:

Leadership Lessons presented by Dragoo and Collins Stephens:

“To be outstanding, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

“Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.”

“Only dead fish go with the flow! You don’t get into something to test the waters; you go into things to make waves!”

“Worrying is literally betting against yourself.”

“Don’t wait for opportunity to find you. Go out and create it!”

“Seek to be worth knowing rather than being well known.”

Master of Ceremonies Gerry Dick says, “The Indiana Conference for Women has become one of those rare events that both empowers and inspires. It is an extraordinary experience.”

“It’s all about women supporting women,” says WTHR13 Anchor Andrea Morehead.

Sallie Krawcheck, Founder of Ellevest and former Wall Street Analyst, says she has interrupted a lot of group discussions by walking into a room filled mostly with men, and “never once was I told that I’d interrupted a conversation of how they could increase diversity within the company.”

“Cummins relies on innovation,” says Melina Kennedy, GM of Global Rail and Defense for Cummins. “We achieve this successfully because of the diversity in our company.”

“Girl, you’ve been given gifts. Use them. You will fall on your face, but you will get back up,” said Beth Brooke-Marciniak’s father to her as a young girl. “Take your success and figure out how you can positively impact the world with these gifts.”

Krawcheck’s father said to her when she was in third grade and feeling awkward, “You are pretty. Look at Gloria Steinem. She has glasses. She’s pretty, and she is changing the world.”

Keynote speaker Kathy Ireland, CEO and Chief Designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide, was 40 years old when she learned that “No.” is a complete sentence. Ireland says, “Our failures should not define us, but neither should our successes.”

“Crises come up,” says Ireland. “You don’t break down. You break through.”

The day included the Dolphin Tank where six female startup companies pitched their business. Advice: branding is critical. You must have a compelling story.

“We are all dolphins in this room. Dolphins work in a gam which is their family and are sensitive to other species in trouble,” shared Dolphin Tank moderator Amy Millman, CEO of Springboard Enterprises.

Aimee Kandrac, Founder of What Friends Do, who pitched in the 2014 Dolphin Tank, says, “The connections, advice and confidence I gained from the safe pitching environment like the Dolphin Tank allowed me to secure $500,000 in funding and gain experience to share with the next generation of female entrepreneurs.”

“You can’t make change if you are not at the table,” says Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy for Ernst & Young. “So be courageous enough not to be removed from the table.”

It’s time to Lean In.

Please visit to register for 2016.