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Conference Grows Women’s Leadership at all Levels

WithIt’s annual professional conference drew 140 participants to Alexandria, Va. for 3 days of professional development. Among the attendees were retailers, designers, manufacturers, service providers and students. Our theme of “Igniting Leadership” was conveyed throughout the conference’s program which was produced by WithIt, conference co-chairs Alexis Koscielny of The Dufresne Group and Cathy Valent of CeCe Designs and numerous conference committee chairs & members.

The programming lineup was designed to educate and inspire attendees from all levels and facets in our industry.  You can see our agenda here.
In addition, we brought 13 students under the Rising Leaders Program which is designed for students preparing to enter the industry studying disciplines that feed the industry including interior design, furniture design, textile design and architecture.  This year’s Rising Leaders program was sponsored by Sunbrella and a generous grant from the American Home Furnishings Association (AHFA) Furniture Foundation.  The Rising Leaders were welcomed with an opening night mentoring dinner which included WithIt members within all levels of their career and allowed for networking and informal mentorship.  The Rising Leaders program is spearheaded by Victoria Valentinas, Bernhardt Interiors sales and marketing manager and WithIt board member.


“The Rising Leaders program is an important component of WithIt and our industry to ensure we are supporting the next generation. We are grateful for the financial support of the AHFA Furniture Foundation to support these future leaders,” said Amy Van Dorp, Executive Director of WithIt.
Conference also marked the launch of WithIt’s Mighty Network, a digital networking platform that enables members to meet, communicate, discover, mentor and network with each other.  This platform is a new benefit for WithIt members.  “The Mighty Network helps keep our members connected in between events and throughout the year so we can stay inspired and tap into the powerful network that WithIt represents,” stated Abby Lane, principal of Redhead Furniture Design and WithIt board member who championed the launch.
WithIt’s mission is based on leadership development, mentoring, educational and networking opportunities, which comes to life at the Annual Professional Conference. General session topics included leadership development & steps, employee motivation, financial wellness, consumer purchase behavior, women’s wellness and professional relationship development. These general sessions were complemented by nine breakout session offerings and three pre-conference workshops. 
Thank you to the sponsors of the 2019 Annual Professional Conference. With these supporters, the home and furnishings industries can continue to retain female talent and develop connections for business opportunities.

The 2020 Professional Conference is planned for June 24 – 26, 2020 at The Westin in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Jana Platina Phipps

Home Couture Collective
I'm part of WithIt to have a direct "red phone" line to a brain bank of women with competitive intelligence, strategies, and problem solving experience--and to be at the other end of their red phones.
Together, we create powerful collective business momentum and our strengths can change the landscape of leadership in our industry to reflect sexual equality.
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