After almost three days, six general sessions, two breakout sessions, an afternoon of roundtables, daily networking breakfasts and lunches, two early morning yoga classes, a city dine-around, and an elegant dinner and awards presentation honoring two top industry icons, PPAI’s 2019 Women’s Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, concluded Wednesday evening with a trolley ride from the hotel to the Grand Oaks Mansion, where attendees enjoyed a buffet dinner, live jazz and more opportunities to continue conversations, create connections and cultivate friendships.

This year marked the 15th year of the conference, which attracted 150 female professionals of all ages and backgrounds from companies across the industry; 61 were there for the first time.

“As a first-time attendee of the WLC, I couldn’t be prouder of being part of an organization that really looks out for their industry,” says Danita (Dani) Smith, CAS, owner of Third Day Creations, LLC. “PPAI is continuously looking out for its members and it really showed with the ‘evolving’ session and the ‘strategic foresight’ session. I also truly enjoyed the ‘inner critic’ and ‘innovating’ sessions, and was able to walk away armed with strategies to improve my daily work and personal life. I recommend that any woman in this industry take the time out of her busy schedules to attend this truly engaging event.”

Another first-timer, Leslie Ayuko, account manager at OrderMyGear, says she gained even more than she expected. “I registered and traveled with expectancy and excitement, and what I experienced was far beyond what I imagined. Within the first hour, I felt as if I was part of a sisterhood just for being myself. I met women, such as Daryll Griffin [PPAI Woman of Achievement Award honoree], who intentionally poured into me from our first conversation. I am leaving with new friends and an even greater network and understanding of the promotional products industry.”

Vera Muzzillo, CEO of Proforma, was glad she chose to attend. “Thank you PPAI for an outstanding Women’s Leadership Conference! The networking and educational opportunities were invaluable, and I would highly encourage all female promotional product leaders and innovators to attend in the future.”

Longtime attendee and WLC Work Group member Kathy DiFrancesco, outside sales manager at SnugZ USA, explains the value she sees in the conference. “WLC is amazing! The value I get out of it is remarkable. It’s a well-curated event, where the content, breakout sessions, networking and speakers take you on a thoughtful journey from start to finish. Everything you do has purpose. I am able to apply the strategies and tips back to my everyday life.”

Joelle Tedford, vice president of sales and marketing at Lion Circle, also calls the conference amazing. “Each year I look forward to collaborating with distributors, suppliers and service providers on the latest trends, issues and opportunities. For anyone that hasn’t been, I highly recommend it.”

Shari Garvalia, MAS, strategic account manager at Showdown Displays, is a five-time attendee. “WLC is a refreshing departure from own daily work routines and an opportunity to expand one’s circle of influence. I always leave energized, a bit wiser and most definitely optimistic about the opportunities in our ever-evolving industry.”

The 2020 Women’s Leadership Conference is scheduled for June 22-24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Look for registration to open in the coming months.