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BEP hosts women empowerment conference

Students interact in small-group workshops, attend lectures with female business leaders

Brown Entrepreneurship Program hosted the first intercollegiate women’s empowerment conference — called Women Empowered at Brown — Saturday. The conference introduced students to female leaders through small workshops and lectures.

The conference was organized by Antonia Alvarez ’19, Abby Neuschatz ’18 and Daniela Paternina ’18. The organizers received approximately 230 applications to attend the conference and accepted 160.

Alvarez began planning for the event over a year ago, motivated by a desire “to bring female leaders together,” she said.

Melanie Whelan ’99, CEO of fitness company SoulCycle, delivered the keynote lecture. She explained how each step in her career path — from working at Starwood Hotels, to Virgin Airlines to Equinox — taught her to prioritize relationship building in business.

“Don’t think about what you should be doing, but what you could be doing,” she said.

In terms of women’s empowerment, “the world has come a long way since I’ve been at Brown, (but) there are still systematic challenges that affect women in business,” Whelan told The Herald.

Melissa Tischler ’98, an associate partner and the head of the Strategy Team at strategy and design firm Fahrenheit 212, delivered the closing remarks. Previously, Tischler launched EOS personal care products and helped found the nonprofit Women in Innovation.

“If this conference gives people that level of confidence to go out and create what they wouldn’t otherwise, it’s a success,” Tischler said.

Danielle Peterson ’17 attended the conference “to have access to role models and be inspired by the women today,” she said.

“I wish something like this existed when I was at Brown. I think it’s pretty incredible,” Whelan told The Herald.

Alvarez said they are planning another women’s empowerment conference  for 2018.


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