WEDN 2021 Virtual Meeting Series

Leadership, inclusiveness, entrepreneurship, marketing, and women’s employment trends were the topics of this year’s Learn and Lead Forum. We learned how to be better leaders in our organizations, communities, and profession while connecting with colleagues across the southeast.

This year, WEDN was four lunch and learn virtual meetings. Dr. Karen Dyer kicked off the meeting series with a workshop on Change Leadership. Participants completed the Change Style Indicator assessment in advance. In breakout groups, we discussed our change styles: Conserver, Pragmatist, and Originator. Learning our own change style, and how to work with people with other change styles, will strengthen working relationships.

Day 2 of WEDN showcased three entrepreneurship facilities and programs. Lydeana Martin in Floyd County, VA, presented a case study of the very successful Floyd Innovation Center and its entrepreneurship programs. Cori Lindsay in Caswell County, NC recently launched CoSquare, a coworking facility in rural North Carolina. She provided insights on how to creatively fund a coworking center in a very rural place. Switching gears from rural to urban, Caroline Crowder with the University of South Carolina Technology Incubator in Columbia, offered best practices in technology related incubation as well as how to engage with women and minority entrepreneurs.

Nikki Reid with the City of Asheville and Dr. Zitty Nxumalo with Deftable provided both ground level and broad ranging advice on diversity, equity, and inclusion in community and economic development. Nikki presented Asheville’s programs and investments that support racial equity such as reviewing city contracting policies, housing initiatives, and large investments in parts of the city impacted by redlining. Using principles of authentic leadership is how “Dr. Z” approached inclusiveness in community and economic development. A key takeaway was the four principles of authentic leadership: self awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency.  

Two well-known leaders in the field of economic and workforce development took the virtual stage on Day 4. Sarah Miller with the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank described how women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic with 275,000 leaving the workforce in January 2021 alone. What are the most effective tools in marketing? Dariel Curren with DCI answered that question along with others about trends in marketing. Both Dariel and Sarah shared their career path and offered good advice to WEDN attendees. One piece that stuck with me is to take more risks.

WEDN traditions from years’ past were not lost in the virtual environment. Attendees networked and connected; we asked that they donate to a local career closet; and we shared thoughts on the conference book (Dare to Lead by Brené Brown). There is no substitute for sharing a meal around a table together; however, this was the most fun we have had at a virtual meeting.

Look for WEDN 2022 announcements this fall. We hope to see you, really see you in person, next year.   

Presentation slides are available in the links above and posted on our WEDN past events page.

Meeting recordings links have been sent to attendees. If you missed it, let us know.

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