The Young Women Lead (YWL) conference, October 15 and 16 at ACTC brought a message of achievement to more than 400 high school girls from Boyd County, Paul G. Blazer, Elliott County, Fairview, Greenup County, East Carter, West Carter, Lawrence County, Raceland, Rosehill Christian and Russell Independent High Schools.
“It was fun, and it opened my eyes to the future” said Magin Wonn from Paul Blazer. “I made a lot of connections that I didn’t expect,” said Elshadai-Smith Mensah, also from Blazer. “Our goals are so high they sometimes don’t seem real, but this does make it real.”
This was the first time that the conference presented by Toyota Manufacturing –North America in partnership with SOAR was offered in Eastern Kentucky.
”We’ve focused on professional development of women for many years,” said Rick Hesterburg, Toyota’s Manager of External Affairs. “We know a more diverse workforce is a better workforce, and we want to attract women into our manufacturing environment. By focusing on younger women in this conference, we can get them thinking about their many opportunities in the future.”
“I learned different skills about how to be a better leader, and I learned how to protect myself while using social media,” said Callie Adkins, a Greenup County High School junior. “This conference was definitely worth it.”
“This was an amazing experience for our girls, and they felt like royalty today, said Amanda Hensley, a teacher at Greenup County High School. “They learned leadership skills they can take with them regardless of their field, and they learned how to be positive in their approach to life.”
Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes was the keynote speaker, singer Julie Reeves was the MC, and concurrent sessions on leadership, education, careers, financial skills, health and social media were presented by local women in business, academic and community leadership positions.
“It was an outstanding event for the students,” said conference committee chair Karen Coburn, ACTC External Education. “The support we received from Toyota, SOAR and our local sponsors made possible a multi-faceted conference focusing on opportunities for personal and professional growth.”
Local sponsors included Fannin Automotive Family; John W. Clark Oil Company, Inc.; Kentucky Farmers Bank; United Way of Northeast Kentucky; ACTC; Marathon Petroleum Company LP; Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital; King’s Daughters Medical Center; Big Sandy Superstore; Citizens National Bank; Home Federal; Magnolia Manners & Etiquette, LLC; McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC; Peoples Bank; Pollock’s Jewelers; and Town Square Bank. Many other area businesses and organizations provided support through in-kind gifts.
“This is part of a national initiative that has been offered primarily in urban and metro areas, and we were very fortunate to be able to host such an event in our region,” said Dr. Kay Adkins, ACTC President & CEO.
“Judging from the reactions of the young women involved, the conference was an outstanding success,” Dr. Adkins said. “Toyota staff and YWL committee members are already planning another conference for next year, and we look forward to another stellar event.”
Shown at the Young Women Lead Conference on October 15 are conference committee members with ACTC and Toyota officials. In the front row from left are Mary Crowley, Ann Perkins, ACTC President Dr. Kay Adkins, Norma Mead, Allison Goble, Laura Timberlake, Nila Wells and Kim Boggs. In the back row from left are April Perry, Toyota manager of External Affairs Rick Hesterburg, Dean of Resource Development & External Affairs Dr. Larry Ferguson, Dean Willie McCullough, Karen Coburn, John McGlone and Kim Minnehan. The Conference was held at ACTC's Technology Drive Campus.