By Florence PowerHouse Jen Euell, Program Director, Women’s Foundation of Montana
The Athena Conference, a women’s leadership conference founded by a group of partners (including WFM!) last year, took place September 13-15 in Bozeman, attracting 170+ powerhouse women. This year the conference spanned two days, featuring more than 20 diverse women speakers from across the nation, including author Luvvie Ajayi, entrepreneur Lisa Stone, Leslie Blodgett of Bare Minerals fame, Ayana Ledford of PROGRESS at Carnegie Mellon, founder and Chief of Shine Kim Shappee, and one of the Nuns on the Bus, Sister Chris of Radical Grace. Other opportunities to learn and share included free coaching sessions, a wage-negotiation workshop and Luminous Dinner Circles.
Many participants said Athena was no less than life-changing. Cece Harris took the stage to share how she had attended the inaugural Athena last year and went home inspired. Since then she sought out a new lead position at a Bozeman startup and negotiated a much higher salary, with benefits and options for herself. Shalon Hastings, Helena business owner and entrepreneur said, “You ladies blew my mind with the first speaker. And the mind blowing continued. You lined up such enigmatic, down to earth and engaging ladies who made me laugh, cry and TRULY look inside myself. I will be back next year. And will be recruiting fellow Helena females to join me. I believe in this Athena conference so much that I’ll be sponsoring my female manager from each business to attend.”
At Athena, WFM was thrilled to be the presenter of Ayana Ledford of PROGRESS , an organization that works to educate women on how to negotiate in pursuit of equality. While in Montana, Ayana presented a wage negotiation workshop for MSU students, which was sponsored by the MSU Leadership Institute as well as departments across the campus. She also spoke on a panel and presented a second wage negotiation workshop for women attending Athena, sharing skills and strategies with more than 200 women!
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