IWLC Eastern Iowa Conference Celebrates ‘Generation: SHE’ with 1,400 Attendees

Apr 29, 2016


Molly Altorfer

Molly Altorfer is the co-director of communications and marketing for IWLC. She has previously worked as a freelance writer and served as Assistant Vice President for Communications and Marketing at Mount Mercy University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies and political science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master of Arts in Communications and Journalism from Kent State University. Molly is an avid golfer and self-confessed news junkie. She and her husband have two daughters; Molly views her work with IWLC as making the world a better place for them.

Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC) celebrated “Generation: SHE” yesterday with more than 1,400 women, men, college students and high school leaders at its annual Eastern Iowa Conference in Cedar Rapids.

The sold out event featured four keynote speakers and breakout sessions in the Professional Track, attended by more than 1,000 women. Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of Stella & Dot, offered attendees insight into her “6 Ps of the Entrepreneurial Spirit,” including passion, path, positivity, people, perseverance, and productivity. She shared her personal story of starting and building one of the largest home sales businesses in the United States. “Overnight success takes 7-10 years,” said Ms. Herrin.

Other keynote speakers included author of The Gratitude Diaries Janice Kaplan, founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels Natalia Oberti Noguera, and Jeffery Tobias Halter, a leading expert on advancing women and engaging men.

The second annual Men’s Track Program attracted an audience of male professionals who learned tips for fostering more inclusive work environments from gender strategist Mr. Halter. Area college students participated in panel discussions about generational workplaces and attended sessions with Ms. Kaplan and Ms. Herrin. More than 200 area high school age girls interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) were treated to a keynote address and panel discussion featuring Alice Brooks, the founder of Roominate, mechanical toys for girls.

“My favorite part of the conference was listening to the dynamic keynote speakers,” said conference attendee Jenna Hunt, department coordinator for business and information technology at Kirkwood Community College. “Their energy was contagious and I left each session feeling empowered and inspired to apply their message to my own life. The conference also encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone in both my personal and professional spheres. It was a great reminder that you can achieve anything if you are willing to take risks and direct your energy toward a meaningful goal.”

The “Generation: SHE” theme was developed in concert with past IWLC conference attendees who acknowledged an interest in leading in an age-diverse workforce. IWLC’s slate of 2016 speakers span multiple generations – mirroring the makeup of the majority of today’s workplaces – and bring to the table their personal experiences in proactively navigating generational issues in the workplace.

Luncheon keynote speaker Mr. Halter strode onto the stage wearing red women’s pumps – size 14. “You can get anything on Zappos,” said Mr. Halter, before adding, “I knew that this was a great opportunity to ignite a real conversation about the need for male engagement in advancing women. I believe I found the perfect visual aid to help women jump-start this conversation with their male colleagues and create momentum and lead change. Hence, the red pumps!”

Conference attendees, like attorney Natalie Ditmars of Bradley & Riley, PC in Cedar Rapids, believe that education around women’s leadership is imperative. “It is important to see that you can be a leader and a woman at the same time,” she said. “You don't have to change who you are or act like a man to lead.”

IWLC Chief Operating Officer Tiffany O’Donnell also announced the beginning of the LEAD IOWA Challenge, an effort to raise funds for programming dedicated to the advancement, development and promotion of women and the organizations they serve, and to impacting Iowa's economy. At the conclusion of the conference, Ms. O’Donnell revealed that $30,150 had been raised during the event. More information is available at

IWLC announced it will host its 10th annual Eastern Iowa Conference on April 25-26, 2017 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Convention Complex.