Earth Equity’s Leesa Sluder and Kerry Keihn attended this year’s event.
The third annual Economic Bruncheon, organized by powerhouse Emily Breedlove, was held this year at the Masonic Temple. In the past year, Emily has transitioned her business to focus on “Leading Edge Growth Strategies for Women Disruptors”. There were about 150 attendees at the event, and the energy was palpable. The first panel, made up of five women that had been part of a Mastermind group led by Emily, described the evolution of “Owning Your Expertise: Reinventing Thought Leadership” with anecdotal stories of thinking bigger, pushing through boundaries and finding passion in your work.
The Keynote Speaker, Janet Cone, UNCA Athletic Director, was selected as the “most intimidating woman in Asheville” by Emily’s team, and at 5’2” described the shaky legs of her 6’8” basketball players in her office. As a baby boomer, she noted that she preferred the term “perennial” to describe how she continues to bloom and transform through the years. Her boundless energy, humor, and focus enthralled the audience as she described (in tribute to the Holidays) the four “H”s of leadership:
Heart—find your passion
Head—be a lifelong learner; continue blooming
Hand—action; build strategic relationships and pay it forward for other women
Habits—build habits with transparency and trust. Let people know what you stand for or against
Happiness—choose this first as a mindset
The final panel, “Shattered Ceilings: Higher Education Leaders of WNC” featured President Lynn Morton of Warren Wilson College and Chancellor Nancy Cable of UNC Asheville. The moderator disclosed that about 30% of college/university presidents are women, a significant jump from 25 years ago. They answered questions around their joys and challenges of rising to the top of their profession in the male dominated domain of higher education and provided encouragement and support for the multi-generational women in the room. There was a call to action for WNC women to move forward boldly to build our businesses in the region.