Radford University hosts Women’s Entrepreneurship Week
“Make your own dreams, balance your own life.”
Nancy Artis ‘73 spoke those words to an enthusiastic audience gathered in the Bonnie Auditorium to hear and learn from inspirational women like her who have and are continuing to make their way as business leaders.
The Oct. 17 panel discussion was part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week on campus, an event designed to bring attention to entrepreneurial pursuits of women around the world.
Participating in the discussion were:
- Jessica Wirgau, executive director of The Community Foundation of the New River Valley;
- Caitlyn Scaggs ‘07, founder and CEO of Blue Mobius Marketing;
- Michelle O’Connor '91, president and CEO of CMR Institute; and
- Nancy Artis '73, vice president and co-founder of Performance Associates, Inc.
Danylle Kunkle, a professor in the Davis College of Business and Economics’ Department of Management, served as moderator for the discussion. She asked poignant questions designed to spark discussion among the participants about their specific leadership roles.
Many topics were discussed, and one delved into the advice the panelists would give to the young women entrepreneurs.
“I say put people first and the rest takes care of itself,” Scaggs said. “When you’re prioritizing relationships, the pieces magically fall into place in a way in which you could not have predicted otherwise. That’s how I chose to lead Blue Mobius and why I think we were so successful, because it was a people first approach to everything we did and do.”
Artis urged the audience to be fearless in the face of challenges.
“Often, women are perceived in business in a way that they have to be perfect, that they can’t make mistakes,” Artis said. “It’s important to take risks and learn from failure. We have to fail to learn something new.”
The panelists acknowledged much has changed for women in business in the past few years, but agreed more change needs to happen.
“We need more women in board rooms and more women in C-suites,” O’Connor said. “It’s really important for me as a woman to encourage other women, but there’s still work that needs to be done.”
Scaggs agreed. “Women need to know it’s OK to have a place at the table,” she said. “I don’t know that we’re telling each other that enough. We need to look at what we’re doing for the next generation and what we’re doing for the women who are up-and-coming.”
The panel discussion began shortly after a showing of the documentary, “She Started It,” which explores the under-representation of women in entrepreneurship.
Other events throughout Women’s Entrepreneurship Week included a brown-bag discussion with social entrepreneurs and other meet-and-greet and Q-and-A sessions with women business leaders. There also was an event titled Visionary Women, where local women shared their stories.
Kathy Krendl, president emerita of Otterbein University, served as moderator. Krendl has significant experience building relationships within a town setting and has spent much of her professional life building opportunities for women.
“For a small city, Radford has a number of women who run businesses,” said Psychology Professor Sarah Hastings, who helped organize the event. “We asked three of them, Dr. Emily Lawrence of West End Animal Clinic, Laura Lamoureaux of Lamour’s Boutique, and Norma Greene of Latino’s Taste to offer insights about how they started their businesses and how they have helped them thrive.”
One aspect of the week-long celebration was the concept of entrepreneurship, including innovation at a variety of settings and more than just opening a business.
The goal, Hastings said, was “to highlight the fact that women create not only new businesses, but also new programs in nonprofits, schools and community service organizations. It is important to think about how society can support women in getting new projects off the ground that benefit their communities.”
The Davis College’s Center for Innovation and Analytics, Women’s & Gender Studies program, Center for Gender Studies, College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, Artis College of Science and Technology, Waldron College of Health and Human Services, Davis College of Business and Economics, the Women in Computing Club, R-SPaCE, High Impact Practices, Department of Management and the Radford University Foundation sponsored the events.
Providing lead on the week of events were Jeanne Mekolichick, associate provost for Academic Programs, and Steve Childers, professor of management. Additionally, Ali-Sha Alleman, Alison Armstrong, Melissa Grim, Hastings, Kunkel, Hyajung Lee, Alicia Van Winkle, Chunlin Wang and Hui Wang assisted with the week-long programming.