Iowa Women Lead Change, or IWLC, brings its signature training event to the Quad-Cities for the first time this week.
The inaugural IWLC Quad-Cities Women's Leadership Conference is Thursday at the Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf. The conference offers a lineup of high-profile speakers, breakout sessions and nearly 25 exhibitors to help participants expand their leadership skills.
The 2018 conference, now hosted by IWLC in five locations across Iowa, is themed Iowa Women [and Men] Lead Change. The day-long conference begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. and opening remarks at 9:15 a.m. More than 600 participants are expected to attend.
"The mission of IWLC isn't changing," said Tiffany O'Donnell, CEO of the statewide women's leadership organization. "IWLC conferences will continue to recognize the benefits of empowering, inspiring and educating female leaders across the state, but we must not only invite male allies into the conversation, but encourage it."
The Quad-Cities conference will feature three keynote speakers: Jeannette Walls, author of "The Glass Castle;" Jeffery Tobias Halter, a speaker and consultant who specializes in engaging men in advancing women; and Tamron Hall, award-winning journalist and host of "Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall" on Investigation Discovery.
Halter, the president of YWomen, also will moderate a panel of Quad-City business leaders discussing their organizations' efforts to engage men in women's leadership and the importance of male allies for women leaders, said Deanna Woodall, IWLC Quad-Cities regional manager.
The panel will include: Mara Downing, director of John Deere Global Brand Management and Corporate Citizenship and the John Deere Foundation president; Heidi Parkhurst, Bank of America market president and Merrill Lynch senior vice president, wealth management and senior resident director; Dennis Duke, president, UnityPoint Health-Trinity Robert Young Center; and Todd Hopkins, general manager, Lexus of Quad Cities.
Woodall said the day's events all are meant to educate, challenge and inspire those in attendance.
IWLC traces its roots to the women's conference. Originally known as the Iowa Women's Leadership Conference, the organization adopted the Iowa Women Lead Change name after expanding its reach, resources and advocacy to promote women's leadership across the state.
The Quad-Cities conference joins sister IWLC Conferences offered in Des Moines, Dubuque, Sioux City and the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor. The Cedar Rapids-based IWLC entered the Quad-City market last year with its merger of the Quad-Cities' Women's Connection.
Woodall wants to dispel any misconception the conference is only for women in business or leaders at Fortune 500 companies. "Before I went back to work, I was the leader of my family. We are all leaders in the chapter we are at in our lives," she said. "We have to look at the place we are at in our life and look at it as an opportunity to lead."