Lt. Gov Guadagno and nearly 30 business leader speakers inspired women entrepreneurs, students and business owners at a daylong conference Oct. 15 at Montclair State.
“This is all about opportunities,” Guadagno told the crowd, according to a story by The Alternative Press. “Wear pink if you want to, don’t let anybody tell you ‘you can’t’, get the best possible education you can….and then look around the room and get everybody’s card…I can guarantee you one thing, you will not know where the person sitting next to you will end up.”
The conference drew 335 people throughout the day and was one of four events at Montclair State to celebrate Women Entrepreneurship Week in New Jersey. Events were also held at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Fairleigh Dickinson University and Saint Peter’s University, and those events involved groups like Launch NJ Women and Greater Newark Enterprise Corp.
Women Entrepreneurship Week in New Jersey was organized by the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship.
The Oct. 15 conference at Montclair State garnered praise from attendees.
“I left feeling inspired, motived, fully charged and empowered!” wrote Montclair State alum Jasmin on the Montclair Entrepreneurs Meetup page.
Students like Morgan Elise Taylor welcomed the chance to mingle with women execs.
“It was truly a joy and inspiration to hear professional women speak on entrepreneurship and success. When I left the conference, I felt empowered to reach for the stars and use my gifts to impact in the world,” said Taylor, a sophomore Communication and Media Arts major.
Even the smattering of men in the audience found the conference inspiring.
“Incredible content, amazing panelists and the buzz of business owners and new entrepreneurs! What else could you ask for?? Big thank you to MSU and the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship!” wrote Bill Roesch on the Meetup page.
The nine-hour conference kicked off with welcome remarks by Montclair State President Dr. Susan A. Cole, who presented stats about some of the challenges that women entrepreneurs face.
“Fifty years after the feminist era, women are still doubting themselves — but their education and entrepreneurship can be part of the solution,” said Cole, as quoted in a story on NJBIZ.com.
Then Mimi Feliciano, who founded the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship with her husband Eddie Feliciano, welcomed the crowd. It was Feliciano’s vision that the Center have a special mission to nurture, encourage and inspire women entrepreneurs, and her idea that there be a series of events to celebrate women entrepreneurs.
“You have to believe, you have to dream, you have to think big,” said Feliciano during her remarks, as tweeted by sophomore Mathematics major Hope Hood.
Another conference highlight was a discussion between Montclair State alumna Ellyn A. McColgan, a longtime Wall Street executive who is now a board member of NASDAQ OMX, and Ilene H. Lang, senior adviser and former president and CEO at Catalyst.
McColgan delivered a message that could be summarized as “be big, be bold, be brave.” She also spoke of the importance of developing alliances and working well on teams, continuous learning, and leaving a legacy yet also knowing when it’s time to go. She also gave insight into what it takes to be a leader.
“You don’t do it for you. Leadership is a service position,” said McColgan.
The conference also included several panels and workshops, featuring some of the Garden State’s top women leaders like Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO, Choose New Jersey; Michelle Y. Lee, Northeast Community Banking regional president, Wells Fargo; Caren Franzini and Kathleen Coviello, who have been longtime leaders of the state Economic Development Authority; and Montclair State alum Michele Ansbacher, a VP at Prudential. There were also leading representatives from the area of financing like Golden Seeds’ Joan Zief and Rothenberg Ventures’ Fran Hauser. Read the full list of speakers and the full agenda of panels and workshops.
The final conference speaker was Mikki Taylor, a longtime editor at Essence Magazine who spoke on developing a personal brand. Her talk prompted attendees to break into spontaneous applause multiple times.
“You’ve changed my life tonight,” one attendee said simply to Taylor during the Q&A portion of her talk.
The other events at Montclair State included a “Networking Tips for Students” session led by career coach Lyria Charles; an evening event featuring women empowerment advocate Gloria Feldt and four successful Red Hawk alumnae; and an event examining how to draw more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.
The sponsors for Women Entrepreneurship Week were Children’s Specialized Hospital, EisnerAmper, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, and WithumSmith+Brown. The media sponsor was NJBIZ.
To learn about more events like this, and receive updates about Women Entrepreneurship Week 2015, join Montclair Entrepreneurs Meetup.