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Annual Professional Conference

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WithIt Annual Professional Conference for the Home and Furnishings Industries


June 22-24, 2022The Westin • Alexandria, Virginia


2022 Agenda
    Wednesday, June 22, 2022
2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
4:30 pm-5:15 pm
  WithIt Membership Meeting
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
  Opening Networking Reception
7:15 pm
  Networking Dine-around Dinners

Join a group to network dine at one of the fantastic restaurants in Old Town Alexandria. Choose your group by the restaurant or the leader. Either way, it will be a memorable evening.

    Thursday, June 23, 2022
7:00 am - 8:30 am
7:00 am - 8:30 am

Breakfast - A continental breakfast will be outside of the conference

meeting room.

    Sponsored by


8:30 am
8:45 am-10:00 am
  “Unmute Yourself: Elevating Your Confidence, Courage + Career”
    Rachel Druckenmiller, Unmuted


How many times since March 2020 have you heard someone say, “You’re on mute!”? What would it look for you to go beyond zoom and learn to “unmute yourself” in your career, so you can have more of the opportunities and experiences that make you feel purposeful, energized and alive?

Many of us don’t speak up with our thoughts, ideas, insecurities or struggles at work or at home. We don’t ask for the opportunities we want or the help and support we need. We mute our creative expression and live our lives going through the motions instead of feeling energized and alive. Too many of us self-silence and hold ourselves back. What if it didn’t have to be that way?


10:00 am - 10:15 am
10:15 am - 11:00 am
  “Empowerment Through Mentoring”  Panel

Moderator Victoria Valentinas, VLV Designs

Laura Levinson, Chief Creative Officer, Valdese Weavers

Ellen Gefen, President, Gefen Marketing

Sydney Harris, Sales Trainer, Furnitureland South



The road to career success is often a bumpy one, and career development may often seem confusing. But imagine how much easier it would be if you had an experienced industry leader available anytime to offer career advice and expert guidance. Our conversation today will be around the roles mentors and mentees need to play to get the most from a mentoring relationship.

Taking the lead as moderator is Victoria Valentinas, WithIt’s Vice President of Emerging Leaders and owner of VLV Designs.


11:00 am - 11:15 am
11:15 am - 12:15 pm
  “Workforce 2030: Are You Ready For the Future of Work?”

Dr. Shirley Davis, SDS Global Enterprises, Inc.



The work, workers, and workplace of the future will continue to undergo dramatic transformation. Research suggests that by 2030 workers will be older and younger at the same time, more educated and less skilled, hyper-connected through new technologies, and more ethnically diverse. How can we ready our organizations for this new workforce reality? What new strategies and skills will be necessary to harness the benefits, yet counter the negative effects of these global disruptions? More importantly, what new leadership models will be needed in order to achieve high performance, innovation, and inclusiveness?

Dr. Shirley Davis, a recognized authority on the global workforce and leadership effectiveness will answer all of these questions as she details the megatrends and business implications that will shape the workforce of the future. Additionally, she will provide practical strategies that business leaders should employ if they expect to achieve greater Inclusion in 2030.

12:15pm - 1:15 pm
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  Professional Headshot Photography
1:15pm - 2:00pm
  Breakout Session 1
    “How to Leverage Influencers for Your Brand”

Mollie Surratt, CEO, White Label Studio



Join Mollie Surratt, CEO of White Label Studio, in understanding today’s evolving influencer landscape—and how working with influencers can level up your brand and sales. White Label Studio is a digital marketing and influencer agency that services clients in the home and flooring industries. The talk will bring the business perspective of both the manufacturer and influencer so you can build collaborations that pay off.

After 15 years of corporate leadership in the flooring industry, Mollie Surratt was ready for more. As a working mom, she wanted to build a company that valued flexibility, family, and a culture of partnership and inclusion--leading her to open White Label Studio in 2017. White Label Studio services over 30 national brands in the home industry and is a powerhouse digital marketing agency focusing on marketing strategy, content development, influencer marketing, and social media management.

    “How to Position Yourself for Your Best Success”

Tori Evans, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, SEI Furniture



* Prior to the course you are requested to complete two quick assessments so you can review your results in the session.

Leveraging the knowledge of behavioral insights and cognitive strengths can help you reach your own desired growth goals. Utilizing the results from the Predictive Index Assessments, you will learn more about your core strengths and challenges so you can better position yourself in environments that are suited to you. We will also explore how to recognize the behaviors and cognitive abilities in others to better align your teams, ensuring realistic expectations and development plans.  This will be a fun and interactive session that is sure to produce some laughs and ah-ha moments.

Tori Evans has over 20 years of hands-on experience with building and coaching teams for success in sales and leadership. 

    “How Manufacturers Can Adjust to Consumer Expectations”
    Bree Cassidy, Sr. Relationship Manager, Amber Engine


What are you doing to give your customers the best experience possible while also standing out from your competitor(s)? Consumer expectations are at an all-time high, and the amount of information they are asking for about your products seems endless. Organizing, communicating, and providing this content can often feel overwhelming. In this open discussion, we will explore what our peers are doing to overcome this challenge, as well as other solutions available to make these daunting tasks achievable. This discussion will be lighthearted and fun as we interact with one another and discuss some of the obvious changes and challenges that have happened in the home furnishing industry.

Amber Engine offers a next-generation Product Information Management (PIM) system and is committed to partnering with manufacturers/vendors/brands in the HFI to help them navigate and respond to the constantly increasing demands of our customers and industry.

2:00pm - 2:10pm
2:10 pm - 2:55 pm
  Breakout Sessions
    Digging Deeper: Roundtables

We continue to explore leadership topics from the morning at discussion tables. Join the table which intrigues you most. Your table leader has questions to get the ball rolling. Reference material for each table is available at




• Unmute Yourself: Speaking Up
Speaking up is when you communicate publicly, assertively, and honestly for the rights and needs of yourself and others. It is at the root of all social change, including within organizations. For many of us, it’s easier to advocate for others than it is to speak up for ourselves.

• Rethinking Work: Flexibility and Engagement
A recent study by Upwork found that 63% of companies now have remote workers. Research also reveals that 70% of people work away from the office at least once a week. Can flexible work environments encourage engagement and retention, especially for women in the workplace?

• How Can We Promote Inclusive Leadership?
Inclusive leaders are individuals who are aware of their own biases and actively seek out and consider different perspectives to inform their decision-making and collaborate more effectively with others. It also means that leaders commit to ensuring all team members are treated equitably, feel a sense of belonging and value, and have the resources and support they need to achieve their full potential.

• Silencing Self-doubt: Let’s Talk About Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

• The Power of No: The Importance of Choosing When to Say Yes
Most people have too much to do and too little time. Saying yes to requests from bosses, teammates, and others can make you feel important but can be a prescription for burnout.

• It Takes Two to Mentor
Mentoring is the most touted path to success, but the most difficult to establish. Mentors are not like a coach, who is someone you hire. It’s a relationship between two individuals. Let’s explore the mentor/mentee relationship.

• Create Your Own Board of Directors
A personal board of directors is the small group of people that you go to for support and advice on advancing your career. The board should consist of five to eight carefully selected individuals that you can rely on to strategize with and to act as your personal sounding board when it comes to your professional development.

2:55pm - 3:10pm
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm
  Breakout Session 3
    “The Best Free Tools you can Use to Improve, Measure and Grow your Business”

Lori Dolnick, Senior Vice President, Frank Advertising



Whether you are an industry professional, manufacturer, retailer, press or service provider – you need to know the latest tools, tricks and trends for marketing in the digital age. This seminar will cover the best free tools to drive your business, measure success and to help strategically build your brand. This session is for anyone who wants to learn more about marketing their business/brand and you will walk away with real life examples, tools and hacks that you can use immediately.

Lori Dolnick is an award-winning marketing and communications professional who has strategically planned and executed programs for over 25 years as a Senior VP at Frank Advertising. She speaks frequently at trade shows on marketing topics including KBIS, Coverings and BOLD Summit.

    “HR Best Practices in an Inclusive Environment”  

Natalie Sanders, Attorney, Brooks Pierce



The last 2 years have been difficult for business leaders. HR situations have become more difficult through a time of Covid protocols and social upheaval. What are the best practices to ensure your business supports and retains your employees? You will not want to miss this session.

Natalie Sanders provides counsel and defense to businesses in all aspects of the employment relationship. Her 25 years of experience as an attorney, operations manager, entrepreneur, and community volunteer allow her to relate well to management and provide nuanced guidance in complex matters. She brings practical experience as well as extensive legal knowledge when counseling HR professionals and managers.

    Speed Dating for Mentors/Mentees
    Tori Evans and Violette Forman


WithIt is breaking new ground with our first event focused on bringing mentors and mentees together for conversation. Join us if you are looking to find a mentor or be a mentor.

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
  Rest and recharge break
6:00pm - 7:00pm
  SOARING Through The Ages Networking Reception

For this year’s Networking Event, our theme is SOARing Through the  Decades! Come dressed in costume from your favorite decade as we continue celebrating our 25th Anniversary. How will you SOAR?!

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  After-Party Celebrating our 25th Anniversary

Don’t miss all our fun activities as we continue Soaring! Stay to enjoy the dance tunes of DJ Jill Parsons.


    Friday, June 24, 2022
7:30 am - 8:30 am
  Breakfast -  There will be a breakfast sandwiches and bagels outside Edison
    Sponsored by


8:30 am - 8:40 am
8:45 am - 9:45 am
  “This Woman’s Work”

Dr. Joynicole Martinez, CEO, The Alchemist Agency



Women in the Workplace 2021, the study from McKinsey and Leanin.org, reports that much of the work in the last year surrounding mental health and DEI has been done by women - in other words, “women’s work.” How do we create an inclusive culture where people of all intersectionalities have opportunities to lead, succeed and flourish? Dr. Martinez will lead us through this session about protecting and supporting our mental health so that we can show up as our best selves for our families and for our companies.

Dr. Joynicole Martinez is founder and CEO of the Alchemist Agency, a management and leadership development consulting firm focused on building the capacity of purpose driven organizations, corporations, and executives.  As an epidemiologist and public health expert, Joynicole has developed initiatives that reach across disciplines to strengthen health and wellness in mixed-income, mixed-finance housing communities to address the social determinants of health, equity, and human rights. She is published regularly on topics around leadership, negotiation, work/life balance, mental health.

9:45 am - 10:00 am
10:00 am - 10:50 am
  “The {Not So} Balancing Act: Managing Work/Life Expectations”

Moderator: Mollie Surratt, White Label Studios

Karen Miller, VP Licensing, Scott Brothers Global

Tori Evans, Senior VIP Sales and Marketing, SEI Furniture



In today’s insanely-paced world, women are expected to be it all and do it all. We’re getting our nails done in a rush with conference calls on mute, picking up kids on two wheels, keeping our partners top priority when it feels they’re anything but, caring for aging parents, and climbing the ladder at work with sometimes endless rungs. Join Mollie Surratt, business owner and working mom of both humans and fur-kids, as we have a real conversation with panelists on managing expectations from those around us- and ourselves.

10:50 am - 11:00 am
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
  “Embrace Your Brilliance”

Dr. Carmen Landrau, Houston cardiologist and inspirational speaker



Many women feel underappreciated at work, causing them to make the difficult decision to leave their careers behind, causing employers to continuously need to hire new candidates and expend resources training new employees. In this motivational talk, professional women will learn ways to work with their mindset so that they can get better at embracing their talents and showing others what they bring to the table.  By taking some actionable steps that can help them obtain recognition at work, women can prove they are an asset to their organizations and become great leaders in their fields while still being true to themselves.

Carmen W. Landrau, MD is a cardiologist and professional keynote speaker who is certified in Leadership and Management by Duke University. She uses her experience navigating a male-dominated and hierarchical career to empower women to embrace their talents and acknowledge their achievements so that they may transform into phenomenal leaders.

As a women’s empowerment speaker, she has helped countless female professionals attract the recognition they deserve while achieving their optimum work-life balance. Her work as an executive business coach has provided strategies to female entrepreneurs to help propel their businesses forward and improve their professional industry visibility.

12:00 pm - 12:15 pm
  Closing and Evaluation






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