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Networking Continues


The 19th Annual Women's Business Conference


The 19th annual Women's Business Conference on April 17 at the Rabobank Convention Center strives to meet the ever-changing needs of the women in our community and helps broaden their professional horizons, says Rhonda Smiley, chairperson of the Options Unlimited Executive Committee and assistant to the City Manager of Bakersfield.

"As women, we have so many facets in society – wife, mother, career, profession, education, entrepreneurs. This conference will provide seminars and programs on how to juggle all those different roles to maintain or get back to the balance we need,"
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The largest and longest standing event of its kind in Bakersfield, the conference is organized by local women for local women. More than 1,000 women get a chance to network with professionals, peruse vendor booths, and attend educational and inspirational seminars.

"As women, we have so many facets in society – wife, mother, career, profession, education, entrepreneurs. This conference will provide seminars and programs on how to juggle all those different roles to maintain or get back to the balance we need," Smiley says. "We have practical advice too; everything from financial planning to business etiquette to how to cook healthy and be healthy. You have to have a healthy situation to be the best that you can be for your family and your job."

Involved in the conference for 15 of its 19 years, Optimal Hospice Foundation executive director and marketing chair for the Options Unlimited Executive Committee, Ann Smart, has seen the conference grow and change. "This is a great networking opportunity for women. It gives them the ability to feel confident that they can accomplish the goals they set out to accomplish," she says. "We now have more women in the workplace than 15 years ago. The conference tries to meet the needs of the women in the community from those who want to change their career path to those who want their skills refreshed to women that are re-entering the workforce."

This year's conference features guest speaker Soledad O'Brien, the former co-anchor of American Morning with Miles O'Brien and current anchor and special correspondent for CNN: Special Investigations Unit. Other keynote speakers include author Jeanne Robertson, CSP, CPAE, as well as television journalist, writer, and speaker Anne Ryder. Local presenters scheduled include Judy McCarthy, wife of Congressman Kevin McCarthy; Robin Mangarin, Channel 17, KGET TV; and Dr. Jennifer Black, Kern County's Kaiser Permanente.

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"We have a tremendous opportunity to garner motivation and inspiration from these guest speakers. It says a lot about our conference that we have the ability to bring in some pretty incredible women that have accomplished a lot in their careers," Smart says.

Past presenters include Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation; Betty Ford, former first lady; Debbie Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields; Ann Richards, former Texas Governor; and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic Gold Medalist.

For more information and to register online, visit www.optionsunlimitedbakersfield.org.

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