National Thought Leaders on Women and Business Come Together at Wahine Forum

Sheryl Sandberg says "lean in." Arianna Huffington says "lean back." There's an energetic and compelling national dialogue on how things are lining up for women in the workplace, the community, in leadership and at home. This national discussion is coming to Hawaii.

At this year's Wahine Forum we will hear from six regional and national thought leaders: A co-founder of the national movement "Lean In," best-selling authors on female leadership, a venture capitalist, a career coach and a diversity change agent. They are joined by local business and community leaders speaking on how to serve on corporate boards, negotiation, running for political office, STEM careers, the latest in cancer research for women and making your spouse a true partner. We can't wait to hear how they've broken through personal and institutional barriers.

Conferences that empower women and encourage career and leadership development continue to be relevant because we are still a minority in the business world and make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job. Wahine Forum is a platform to amplify women's issues as well as a springboard for launching ideas that improve and broaden the opportunities available to women.

As a volunteer with the Junior League of Honolulu, YWCA of Oahu and through our public relations firm, I have been lucky enough to be involved in women's conferencing for more than a decade. But, I was starting to feel that we'd covered everything, that we were repeating themes. I wasn't bored, but I was ready to move away from the planning and promotion and just be a supporter. So, my firm took a break last year.

Then, we met Ashley Weder, a new event manager with Hawaii Business magazine. We couldn't help ourselves; we jumped right back into Wahine Forum. We're so glad we did. Ashley is starting her career, and it's clear that she's a rising star. As she described her vision for the conference and listed the names of women she wanted to recruit, we got chicken skin.

Every year, we agonize over recruiting a keynoter. It's expensive. It's stressful. And, scheduling can be quite complicated. Ashley went after a top-notch list of speakers for 2013, and six said yes. They committed at a time where interest in their area is at a high point. Go Ashley!

The first women's conference I attended was in California in 2001. The Junior League sent me to research for its conference, HerStory. That experience helped me define a path of service to girls and women to bring knowledge, inspiration and support their way. We all need it, regardless of our fields. And, we don't always seek it out. It can make such a difference in our lives.

For me, the best part of putting together events like Wahine Forum is hearing women of all ages say that attending changed their life. They feel emboldened to speak up more often, to share their thoughts and expertise, to go after their own definition of success. As well, the mentoring and networking groups that have come out of Wahine Forum have measurable year-round benefits. For five years, the Wahine Forum Network, managed by the YWCA of Oahu's Patsy T. Mink Center for Business and Leadership, has been hosting a smaller series of sessions, continuing the forum throughout the year.

The lineup Ashley has put together is stellar. Her smarts and hard work is going to knock you out, and likely change your life. Be sure you let her know.

Headliners: Debi Hemmeter, co-founder of Lean In; Lisa Graham, area vice president of sales-American Channels for Adobe Systems; Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, visiting scholar at Stanford University's Media X program and author of Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders; Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, president of Berkhemer Clayton, Inc. and author of The Board Game: How Smart Women Become Corporate Directors; Debra Beresini, CEO of Invencor and Sarah Smith Orr, Executive Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute and visiting professor in the Psychology Department at Claremont McKenna College.

For more information about Wahine Forum on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, visit

For more information about the year-round Wahine Forum Network by the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership at the YWCA of Oahu, visit