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Empowering Women in Industry, an initiative founded by Charli K. Matthews, hosted a one-day Conference and Awards Gala in Chicago on Sept. 26 to connect, educate, and empower women in male-dominated professions. With the mission to develop more effective leaders and a goal of helping women grow personally and professionally, the organizers of the event (Empowering Brands and an independent, all-volunteer Steering Committee) designed a curriculum that focused on change intelligence, mentoring and workforce development, personal branding, networking, negotiating, and empowering women to be their best selves.
With the support of several sponsors, including Change Catalysts LLC, John Crane Inc., Xylem, Taco Comfort Solutions, Vaughan, Sulzer, Mueller Water Products, Watts, and others, this event included a full day of speakers, interactive breakout sessions, and an awards gala where 12 women were honored with crystal plaques etched with acknowledgements in several categories. One winner, voted by the Steering Committee to be the Tradeswoman of the Year, accepted her award via remote video as she, Amy Chetcuti, is an expedition mechanic currently in the Antarctic. In the spirit of the event, Chetcuti sponsored another nominee, a welder by the name of DeIla Ray, to attend the event in her place.
“We were honored to have Eileen O’Neill (WEF’s recently retired Executive Director) participate as the emcee during the awards gala, and it was a wonderful way to celebrate the accomplishments of so many leading ladies in industry,” said Founder and CEO, Charli K. Matthews. “We brought women together from water / wastewater, oil and gas, HVAC, construction, and in positions within manufacturing, engineering, sales & marketing, media and education, as well as entrepreneurs, tradeswomen, and operators! This contributed to the success of our event as we pushed ourselves to learn from people outside our everyday network and career track! These women are the role models needed to build our future workforce – learning from and recognizing these leading ladies across industries makes a difference in effecting change.”
Among more than 60 nominees from across the globe included a few Water Environment Federation (WEF) employees, including Lisa McFadden, Brianne Nakamura, and Morgan Brown, who was given the award for Industry Advocacy. The following are the other award winners: Mary Frances Klimek (Mentor of the Year), Heather Wootton (Marketer of the Year), Angel Wileman (Leadership in STEM), Erika Houtz (Innovator of the Year), Caitlin Bell (Engineer of the Year), Allison Blake (Emerging Leader of the Year), Martha Barton (Saleswoman of the Year), Jennifer Cisneros (Leadership in Manufacturing), Heather Hey (Leadership in Reliability & Operations). The surprised award winners can be seen accepting their honors in a video on the Empowering Women in Industry Facebook page.
The Empowering Women in Industry event heralded a theme of #BeTheChange and presented a conference that provided networking opportunities, positive encouragement, and ‘tools for the participants’ toolbox’. The awards gala recognized the many women who contribute to the quality and success of organizations across industries. In the spirit of women’s relentless march forward, Empowering Women in Industry will continue to lift up women throughout the year as it plans the 2020 annual event.
For information on upcoming Empowering Women in Industry events, visit www.empoweringwomeninindustry.com.
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