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‘Powerful Women Paving The Way’ Conference Back In Person For First Time Since 2019

The Smeal College of Business and Penn State Women in Business are hosting the two-day professional development conference, Powerful Women Paving the Way (PWPW), in person for the first time since 2019. The conference will be held on April 4 and 5 and is the 15th PWPW conference.

There will be three keynote speakers at the conference — Lindsay Peoples, editor-in-chief of The Cut and former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue; alumna Asia Grant, founder and creative director of Redoux; and alumna Rachel Pell, the vice president for strategic communications at Penn State.

“People are really inspired by alumnae because they’re like kind of in their shoes,” Ally Lazor, the PWPW conference director, said.

The conference serves as a hub of inspiration for those who attend, offering them opportunities to hear stories from three successful businesswomen and network with others who are making it in the business world, too.

“It was created with the mission to offer a platform for students, staff, and business professionals to come together and discuss various leadership issues that currently affect women in the business environment,” said Lazor.

This year’s PWPW conference has 127 registered attendees, and although the conference is catered towards women in business, everyone is able and encouraged to attend, no matter their gender. About 50% of those registered are students, while the other 50% are business professionals, community members, and alumni.

In addition to the three keynote speakers, the conference will hold two breakout sessions, with a total of three topics each, and bring plenty of opportunities for networking all centered around this year’s theme — Grow Your Vision: Celebrating 15 Years.

“It means to keep up with the constantly changing demands and expectations in the workplace. It’s essential for us to cultivate a growth mindset and continuously expand our visions,” Lazor said. “That’s easier said than done. Growing our visions is difficult because it requires us to step out of our comfort zones, challenge our existing beliefs, and just be open to changes that lead to our growth.”

The theme was chosen by Lazor, who was appointed by Penn State Women in Business as the PWPW conference director last April after the 2022 conference. She chose the theme based on the current business environment and what current business students are interested in. In the 15 years that the PWPW conference has been running, each year’s theme has been completely unique due to it being a reflection of the business world and that year’s group of students putting together the conference.

“I think the fact that a different group of students works on it every year kind of brings in a creative aspect and gets [the conference] to change every year,” said Lazor.

As this year’s PWPW conference director, Lazor’s responsibilities include applying for funding, coming up with breakout session topics, and leading weekly meetings with the marketing chair, the contributions chair, the logistics chair, and the Women in Business advisor.

Courtesy of Ally Lazor

Lazor first stepped into this role last April, right after last year’s conference. Her introduction was a Zoom call with the previous PWPW conference director, who showed Lazor a 20-page document explaining everything that needed to be done to put the conference together. But despite how daunting planning the conference seemed, Lazor took the task on and is finally getting to see all her hard work come to fruition.

Lazor said that the whole committee working on planning the PWPW conference has been doing a great job and has really shown how much the conference has grown in the past 15 years. She specifically noted that the marketing efforts for the conference have really taken off, too, when compared to older Instagram posts from the conference.

In addition to all the logistical planning that goes into putting the conference together, Lazor is super proud of the committee members under the logistics chair because of their jobs moderating the breakout session panels. A lot of the committee members are freshmen and sophomores, which Lazor said makes her really happy because they are stepping out of their comfort zones and getting that valuable leadership.

Lazor is eager to see all of the work that the PWPW committee has done come together.

“I’m just most excited to see what my chairs have accomplished through it,” said Lazor. “Also seeing my chairs get more comfortable in what they’re doing and get more leadership experience.”

More information about the conference can be found on the PWPW Instagram and website.

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About the Author

Mackenna Yount

Mackenna is a junior food science major from Manitou Springs, Colorado, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She loves food, is addicted to coffee, and can give you random facts or bad jokes that you didn't ask for. Ask her to bake gluten-free goodies so she has an excuse to try out new cupcake flavors. Mackenna can be contacted via Twitter @mackennayount (especially if you want to show off your best dad jokes) or you can shoot her an email at [email protected].

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