Skip to Content

November 8, 2023

The Future is Here

Join us in Raleigh on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Women Lead NC, a dynamic conference designed for ambitious women and their supportive male counterparts. Discover the latest tools and strategies to supercharge your career, enhance personal well-being, and achieve professional fulfillment. Formerly known as Women > A Force in Business, this premier event offers a transformative full-day experience of promoting women in leadership, fostering advocacy, nurturing mentorship, prioritizing self-care, and striking the perfect work-life balance. In a world constantly evolving in how we work and live, Women Lead NC is your opportunity to stay ahead and thrive!

Conference Features

    • Engaging and Inspirational Keynote Speakers: Dynamic and motivational speakers who will ignite your passion and drive.
    • Informative Breakout Sessions with Interactive Q&A: Dive deep into relevant topics through interactive sessions and have your burning questions answered.
    • Timely Pop-Up Sessions: Stay up-to-date with pop-up sessions covering current and important subjects.
    • Exhibitor Hall Showcasing Growth-Oriented Organizations: Explore the exhibitor hall to discover organizations dedicated to fostering both professional and personal growth.
    • Abundant Networking Opportunities: Forge valuable connections and expand your community through numerous networking events and activities.
    • Women’s Bookstore with Handpicked Selection of Latest Titles: Explore a curated collection of the latest books in our dedicated women’s bookstore.
    • On-Site Professional Headshot Photography: Elevate your professional image with a session with our skilled headshot photographer, and more!

Participate in a Local Cause

As part of our event experience this year, we are partnering with Activate Good to organize and run two donation drives. Attendees will have the opportunity to bring items to the conference and/or help sort items onsite. Details and sign up informaiton will be emailed directly to attendees.


Presented By
  • Fidelity Investments Logo


Wednesday, November 8
8:15 amRegistration and Exhibit Hall Open

Pop-up Session: Child Care: A Critical Workforce and Economic Development Issue

  • Debra Derr, Director of Government Affairs, NC Chamber
9:00 amOpening Session with Keynote

Women’s Empowerment: Unleashing Your Gifts

In this riveting and motivational keynote, Judge Victoria Pratt unpacks what it means to unleash one’s gifts – to up-level ourselves, society, industry, and the world. As the daughter of a Dominican beautician and an African American garbage man, Judge Pratt learned to treat everyone she meets with dignity and respect – she shares how this gift has shaped the story of her life. Judge Pratt offers three lessons with actionable takeaways about dealing with criticism, responding to hearing ‘no’, and how to take action in the face of failure.


10:00 amNetworking Break

Book Signing: The Power of Dignity, Judge Victoria Pratt

Pop-up Session:  Taking Care of Yourself

10:30 amBreakout Sessions

Politics, Policy, Power, and YOU

No matter the party affiliation, there are now more women in the NC General Assembly than ever before. The objective of this panel discussion is to take a deeper look at the impact of politics, policies, and power dynamics, regardless of one’s profession. By gaining insight into these influential forces, women can become better-informed professionals and active citizens, equipped to effect positive change in both their personal lives and the broader world.

  • Mary-Ann Baldwin, Mayor, City of Raleigh
  • Demi Dowdy, Director of Communications, Office of Speaker Tim Moore, North Carolina General Assembly
  • Karen Howard, Chair, Chatham County Board of Commissioners
  • Moderator: Debra Derr,  Director of Government Affairs, NC Chamber

Things That I Would Tell My Younger Self

Embark on a journey of self-discovery in our heartfelt session with a diverse panel of experienced individuals who will offer invaluable life lessons and insights drawn from their unique experiences.

From overcoming challenges to seizing opportunities, our speakers will share heartfelt messages they wish they could convey to their younger selves. We’ll explore topics such as pursuing passions, handling setbacks, embracing self-compassion and care, and building meaningful relationships.

Whether you’re starting your journey or reflecting on your own experiences, this session will leave you inspired and armed with insights that can positively impact your present and future. Join us for an uplifting conversation celebrating growth, the power of hindsight, and the opportunity to pave a brighter path for our future selves.

  • Kelly Bennett, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Martin Marietta
  • Linda Brown, Director of Communications, BASF Agricultural Solutions, North America
  • Amy Magee, Director, Project Office, First Citizens Bank
  • Moderator: Nataura Powdrell-Moore, Director, Participant Services, Fidelity Investments

Beyond Extrovert and Introvert: Cultivating the Balancing Act

This engaging discussion is designed exclusively for women seeking to strike the perfect balance in how they present themselves in various aspects of life. We will delve into the unique strengths and challenges of being an ambivert, someone who embodies both introverted and extroverted qualities. Our panelists will offer practical strategies to help you confidently express your opinions without overwhelming others and find the ideal level of ambition without settling for complacency. We’ll explore how to harness your drive while also recognizing when it’s essential to step back and recharge and offer the same to others.

You’ll learn effective communication techniques to establish your presence, and ways to enhance self-awareness, manage your energy levels, and create a positive impact within both your personal and professional circles. Whether you’re navigating meetings, networking events, leadership roles, or social interactions, join us to discover your sweet spot, amplify your strengths, and confidently navigate a world that values versatility and authenticity.

  • Jennifer Bailey, Senior Communications Business Partner, CSL Seqirus
  • Armelia Jackson, SVP & GM, NC Participant Services Contact Center (Workplace Investing), Fidelity Investments
  • Shelley Willingham, Chief Revenue Officer, The Diversity Movement
  • Moderator: Briana Faulk, Senior Engineer, Technical Support, Dell Technologies
11:30 amLunch and Keynote

Amazing Things Can Happen Outside Your Comfort Zone

Back in 2013, Penn and Kim Holderness hit publish on a Christmas Card video that started them on an amazing journey. However, becoming award-winning content creators, best-selling authors, and winners of The Amazing Race did not happen by playing it safe.

Penn and Kim share how taking a leap outside of their comfort zone has helped them build their business, improve their marriage, and manage mental health challenges. They share advice and inspiration you can take with you to help get yourself outside of your comfort zone.

1:15 pmNetworking Break

Book Signing: Everybody Fights: So Why Not Get Better at It?, Kim and Penn Holderness

Pop-up Session: Build Your Own Civic Action Plan

  • Amber Smith, Founder and Executive Director, Activate Good
1:45 pmBreakout Sessions

Asking for a Friend: Candid Conversations

Step into a judgment-free zone with “Asking for a Friend,” a safe and supportive space where our panelists compassionately address a wide range of topics that deeply impact women. Whether it’s medical concerns, mental health, relationships, family dynamics, workplace challenges, or more, bring your pressing questions to this unique session.

Our diverse panel of experts, each with their own insights and experiences, is here to provide thoughtful, empathetic responses to the questions you’ve been hesitant to ask elsewhere. We prioritize privacy and value vulnerability, creating an environment where sharing, learning, and growth are encouraged.

From health inquiries to professional advice, our goal is to empower you with knowledge that helps you make informed decisions in all aspects of your life. By openly discussing these important issues, we aim to foster solidarity, dispel myths, and provide guidance that positively impacts your journey.

So, come with your “friend’s” questions in mind and let’s address complex, sensitive, and often unspoken topics that shape women’s lives, building a stronger and more resilient community together.

Charting Your Journey: Purposefully Navigating Careers, Transitions, and Partnerships

As women, we encounter a dynamic spectrum of experiences, from forging new careers and building partnerships to nurturing friendships, embracing parenthood, caring for loved ones, and envisioning the most meaningful retirement.

Our panel of compassionate guides will share personal stories, practical advice, and impactful insights to support you on your transformative journey. Learn how to navigate transitions with resilience, find balance amidst diverse responsibilities, and proactively plan for a future that truly reflects your aspirations.

Join this conversation to share in the collective wisdom of our speakers and gain practical tools to embrace each step with intention, authenticity, and a sense of purpose. You will leave with the tools to create a clear, actionable plan that aligns with your vision for success.

  • Amy Batten, Attorney, Management Committee Chair, Corporate & Transactional Co-Chair, Smith Anderson
  • Abha Bowers, CEO, Walk West
  • Annie Murray, Career Management Center Director, NC State University
  • Moderator: Frances Cronlund, Managing Director of Wealth Strategy, Curi Capital

The Future of AI: Advancing Women in the Workforce

Join us for this thought-provoking session to examine the transformative impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on women’s careers and workplace dynamics. Our speaker will explore how AI is reshaping traditional roles, creating new opportunities, and addressing challenges that women face in various industries.

We will review how AI-driven technologies are influencing recruitment, skill development, and performance evaluation, discuss the potential biases that AI systems can inherit, and offer ways to ensure fairness and equality in the workplace.

Hear how to harness AI to advance your career and address concerns related to automation and job displacement, emphasizing strategies for reskilling and upskilling to navigate the changing job landscape.

  • Sunny Lu, Director, Enterprise Data & Analytics, WakeMed
2:45 pmClosing Reception
3:30 pmEvent Concludes