Women's conference puts a stronger focus on career development
For the first time since its launch in the mid-1990s, the New Jersey Governor's Conference for Women will focus on hands-on career development, job counseling and networking opportunities for women in the state.
"What we tried to do in conjunction with (Lt. Gov.) Kim Guadagno … was take away any vestige of a 'ladies who lunch' approach and infuse some real hands-on economic- and work-related activities," said Gail Gordon, the conference chair. "We're hoping women will take away a bunch of business cards from people who can facilitate their goals and some maybe new information on investing."
Gordon said feedback from last year's event prompted her to recruit people onto a "multicultural and multiracial committee" to drive a conference that features fewer celebrities and more women in business who are "in line with the governor's goals and priorities" for economic growth in the state.
"We added another networking event this year, because we wanted to give attendees more opportunities to meet people on their own, without being overly programmed," Gordon said. "I think that's a big takeaway, because I've met folks I wouldn't normally meet through this conference. I'm an attorney and a lot of them have helped me get referrals."
From May 7 to May 8, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, nearly 1,000 attendees will learn about developing careers in politics and entrepreneurship — as well as personal development, finance management and healthy living — from panels and sessions led by female leaders in the state's public and private sectors. Gordon said the topics are broken into five structured tracks that will occur simultaneously, and the finance management and two career-specific tracks are new for this year.
In addition to the breakout tracks, a one-stop career center with staff and resources from the state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Economic Development Authority will be available all day Tuesday to help participants with career building, government procurement, résumés and employment opportunities.
Aside from Guadagno, featured speakers at the event include "Celebrity Fit Club" medical expert Ian Smith, who will discuss how to form and strengthen relationships, and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and political commentator Donna Brazil, who will jointly headline a session about the state of politics and women in the United States, Gordon said.
"These are some of the most thoughtful women leaders in our country, and their experiences and accomplishments reflect the conference's goals of providing women with comprehensive practical information and leadership tools to help them succeed," said Richard E. Constable III, acting commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, in a statement.