Chamber hosting Women to Women biz summit
Second annual event continues to grow, engage women leaders
It started as an hourlong breakfast between women business leaders and owners in Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, but has since grown into the Women to Women Regional Summit attracting women from around the region and state.
The summit, now in its second year, is hosted by the Women to Women Committee of the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce. Instead of an hour, it’s scheduled for more than five hours this year with a catered continental breakfast and lunch from Brick Wood Fired Bistro in Prince Frederick.
This year’s event, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 3, runs from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the College of Southern Maryland Prince Frederick Campus and includes keynote speakers, vendors and breakout sessions geared toward women in the workforce and in business.
“You can meet other local women in business in the Southern Maryland area and develop relationships with these women to help further grow your own business,” summit chairwoman Stacy Johnson said. “It’s also for seasoned women in business, whether you work in a corporation or whether you own a small business or whether you work from home as a freelance photographer. Anybody can attend and help grow your network.”
The Chaptico resident has been involved with the Women to Women Committee for three years, but this is her first as the summit’s chairwoman. As a marketing coordinator for Radiology Imaging Associates, Johnson initially got involved to promote breast health but was quickly drawn into the relationship building the group — and the summit — promotes.
“I developed personal relationships with these ladies that I really love,” Johnson said. “I’m getting married and I’m using one of the people from the group as my photographer for my wedding. We help each other grow in our businesses as well as our personal lives.”
The summit kicks off with a continental breakfast and an hour or so of networking. There will also be vendor tables geared toward women’s health, clothing, insurance and real estate as well as a free “swag bag” of gifts.
The opening speaker is Shelby Tuck-Horton, a bridal consultant and wedding planner in the region, who will talk about goal setting and developing achievable goals.
“Then we’ll go into our breakout sessions where you can either go to ‘Be Your Best: Dressing for Success,’ ‘Be a Better Public Speaker’ or ‘Work-Life Balance,’” Johnson said. “You can do two.” The sessions are 45 minutes long and will lead into lunch.
“We’re going to end the day with Cindy Allen — she’s the keynote speaker. She’s the chief investigator with Amtrak Police and she’s going to talk about career challenges for women in the workforce,” Johnson said.
Allen, who is from Calvert County, was the county’s first female sheriff’s deputy when she joined the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office in 1983, rising up the chain of command over 21 years. After a stint at the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, she joined the Amtrak Police Department, where she was captain of strategic planning and research from 2013 to June of this year, according to her bio.
Bill Chambers, president and CEO of the Calvert chamber, said the Women to Women Committee is the largest committee at the chamber and regularly attracts the largest crowd for its monthly luncheon.
“It gets anywhere from 50 to 60 women attending [every month]. It’s doubled since I’ve been here,” Chambers said of the group that meets every second Wednesday of the month at Springhill Suites by Marriott in Prince Frederick.
“I think a lot of it is just getting quality speakers,” he said. “It’s morphed into a committee with a lot of education in mind and is very supportive of business. Their meetings are real meat-and-potatoes kind of stuff with solid speakers backed up with a lot of information.”
The first summit last year drew 105 women, mostly from the region, but 11 different Maryland chambers of commerce were represented at the event as well, including people from the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland and Baltimore.
“We’ll exceed that this year,” Chambers said. “I was really happy with last year’s number. Even with it being August — which isn’t a good time for these kinds of things — we’ve gotten a really good turnout.”
He said he could see the summit growing into a full day affair further down the road and expanding into other regions of the state.
“We don’t have any plans for that right now, but I could see it happening,” he said. “We’re starting to get people from the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland.”
Registration for the event is due by Monday, Aug. 1, and the cost is $45, which includes breakfast and lunch. For registration, go to www. calvertchamber.org or call 410-535-2577.
Speaking of the summit as well as the Women to Women Committee, Johnson said it’s one of the best things business women can get involved in, whether new to the business world or workforce, or with years of experience.
“It engages you within the community and can make you feel empowered as you go throughout your work day — meet women, grow your business, feel empowered to be the best woman you can be,” she said.
Stacy Johnson of Chaptico is the chairwoman of the Women to Women Regional Summit. She joined the Women to Women Committee of the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce three years ago.