The National Association of Women Business Owners, one of SmartBrief’s great association partners, hosted its 2010 Women’s Business Conference last week.
Devora Zack, president of Only Connect Consulting and author of “Networking for People Who Hate Networking,” opened Thursday’s sessions with a networking ice breaker and the assertion that “the best thing you can get out of a conference is other people.”
What I got from the experience is a picture of the broad diversity of women business owners. I’ve met accountants, attorneys, event planners, consultants, a custom frame shop owner, a car service and wash entrepreneur, and more.
I’ve also gotten an idea of the energy and enthusiasm that these women have in spite of facing these tough economic times. Although there are reasons for them to be discouraged, they remain high-spirited and optimistic.
Particularly inspirational are the 2010 winners of the NAWBO/Wells Fargo Trailblazer Award, which “celebrates the fantastic drive, talent and innovation of women business owners who personify the entrepreneurial spirit”:
- Kristi Saucerman of Boise, Idaho, who founded Auction Frogs, a Web-based fundraising system for schools and other community organizations.
- Kay Woods of Chandler, Ariz., who founded Precious Treasures Childcare, a 24/7 childcare center that can accommodate families whose parents don’t just work 9 to 5.
- Jane Skeeter of Chatsworth, Calif., who founded UltraGlas and is a pioneer in the field of designing and manufacturing thermally embossed architectural glass.
Thursday’s activities were capped off with a Capitol Hill Networking Reception with appearances by several members of Congress, including the first woman Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was one of three congresswomen honored for their work on behalf of women-owned businesses and women’s business centers. Her fellow honorees, Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Mary Landrieu, D-La., were unable to attend due to other commitments.
Pelosi reviewed recent legislation that is aimed at helping U.S. small businesses and told the NAWBO members how much she admires them because running for Congress was less daunting to her than the idea of starting a small business.