Published 01/04/13

Women's Summit® features keynote speaker Arianna Huffington

The 16th Women’s Summit ® ,“Aspire. Achieve. Advance,” is slated to be held on March 14 at Bryant University. It is the largest and longest-running educational conference for women in Rhode Island, selling out every year since its inception in 1997.  (UPDATE JANUARY 24: Tickets to the event have sold out.)

“We look forward to welcoming more than 1,000 people from throughout the region to Bryant University,” says Women’s Summit Director Kati Machtley. “Over the years, our conference has incorporated current trends in education, leadership, communication, technology, entrepreneurship, health, wellness, and financial topics in order to provide up-to-date breakout sessions to support our attendees’ professional and personal aspirations. Our hope is that this day will be a transformational experience for all who attend.”

"Our hope is that this day will be a transformational experience for all who attend."

Kati Machtley, director

Many women return each year because they are inspired and empowered by speakers who are often groundbreakers in their fields.

Marlee Matlin, who has been deaf since the age of 18 months, was a Women’s Summit keynote speaker in 2012. She has been breaking barriers since she won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actress at the age of 21 for her motion picture debut in Children of a Lesser God . Matlin has since starred in feature films and on television, receiving multiple award nominations for her work. In 2011, she joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars, as well as Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. She is a director and producer, the author of three children’s novels, and serves on the boards of numerous charitable organizations. An emissary for the deaf community, she has worked on behalf of closed captioning and was instrumental in getting Congress to pass federal legislation requiring that all televisions manufactured in the United States be equipped with closed captioning technology.

Linda Alvarado, a keynote speaker in 2011, began working in the construction industry decades ago. Today, she is president and CEO of Alvarado Construction Inc. in Denver, and she is part-owner of the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team – the first Hispanic owner of an MLB team.

Alvarado’s keynote address struck home with conference attendee Pamela House, a senior project accountant at Gilbane Building Company, and the two spoke afterward. The recent recipient of the highest award from the National Association of Women in Construction, House has attended a half-dozen Women’s Summit conferences at Bryant, where she also enjoys reconnecting with those she has mentored over the years. It was a mentor, she says, who encouraged her and other women to work in more lucrative nontraditional careers. Today, House strives to attract more women to the construction field and works with them so they succeed.

This year's keynote speakers will offer strategies for professional and personal success. Twenty breakout sessions will explore topics such as financial empowerment, leadership, entrepreneurship, creative thinking, diversity, social media, communication, and health and wellness. Keynote speakers are:

  • Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network and the first woman network president in television history. She created the business model for cable networks by introducing the revenue streams of licensing and advertising. She is chairman and CEO of Koplovitz & Company, LLC, and chairman of the board of Fifth & Pacific Companies (formerly Liz Claiborne, Inc.).
  • Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a national syndicated columnist, and the author of 13 books. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked-to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet.
  • Marshawn Evans, J.D., a reinvention strategist and president of ME Unlimited, a leadership development, branding, and identity discovery company. She has appeared on The Apprentice with Donald Trump, and was Miss District of Columbia and third runner-up in the Miss America competition.

The Power Plenary speaker will be Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., CEO and founder of SYNERGY, a coaching and consulting company specializing in customized health and wellness solutions for individuals and organizations.

Since 1997, the Women’s Summit has featured an impressive array of speakers, including such luminaries as: Orit Gadiesh, chairman of the Boston-based consulting firm Bain & Co.; Susan L. Taylor, editor in-chief of Essence Magazine and vice president of Essence Communication; Patricia Dunn, CEO of Barclays Global Investors; Suze Orman, best-selling author and personal finance editor for CNBC; Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistleblower who was named TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2002; Jane Pauley, one of America’s most accomplished newswomen; Jean Chatzky, award-winning journalist, best-selling author, and financial expert for NBC’s Today Show ; and Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman vice presidential candidate on a national party ticket.

The first conference attracted about 400 attendees, but attendance grew quickly because of its affordability, value, and reputation. “The Women’s Summit would not be possible without the extraordinary support of its sponsors, some of which have been with us for more than a decade,” says Machtley. “They share our commitment to enhancing access to this program and to placing the registration expense within reach of many.“

Amica Insurance is this year’s Platinum Sponsor, joined by a host of other companies and organizations. A complete list of sponsors is available here.

A limited number of scholarships are available each year for individuals who would not be able to otherwise attend the conference. The scholarships are funded by Bryant University, sponsors, and through individual donations made during the registration process.