Submitted by: Tara Pizzo, Chamber Communications Intern, LaSalle University class of ’08

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Stand up for yourself and build relationships! These were the two main themes I took away from the second annual Women in the Workforce event held last Thursday at the Rittenhouse Hotel. More than 150 women had the opportunity to hear from and network with top female executives in the region.

I walked away from the event feeling like I could take on the world. As a senior Communication major at La Salle University preparing to enter the workforce in the next few months, this event was valuable because the panelists inspired me with stories of how they started out their careers and then worked their way up to top executive positions.

The panelists for this year’s event were Diana Bald, Vice President and General Manager of Univision, Emily Bittenbender, Managing Partner of Bittenbender Construction, Linda Galante, Esq., Partner with Stradley Ronon, Tracee Hunt, Vice President of Human Resources of the Philadelphia Coca Cola Company and Tammy Mattson, Managing Principal of Towers Perrin. The moderator was Angela Dowd-Burton, Manager of Local Government Relations and Grassroots Initiatives at Rohm and Haas.

After a rapid-fire question-and answer session, we took part in informal and intimate conversations with each panelist as they rotated among small groups. From the looks on the faces of the other women during the discussions, the panelists proved to be empowering. They inspired and encouraged each and every woman attendee to get involved and to know that women can do anything they put their minds to!

While listening to the women share their stories of successes and obstacles, I realized that women can sometimes be their own worst critics. This is why a quote from Tracee really inspired me. She said, “Women have to step out of their comfort zones and surround themselves with the best people.” Women need to pat their own backs and be themselves all of the time. I agree with what Tracee had to say because at this point in my life, I have to remind myself to take risks and to form relationships with supporting people.

I was also moved by a discussion with Linda, who stressed the importance of working mothers needing a support system. She said they are capable of multitasking but they still have to ask for help. I think this advice was great for the many women who try to maintain a family and a career. I see how my own mother raised both my sister and me while working full-time and I know it’s often not an easy task.

Listening to the experiences of these five women inspired me to want to take risks and to build relationships throughout my future career. They made me feel like I could fulfill all of my dreams and that’s a great mentality to have while beginning my search for a career. I hope that other women walked away from this event feeling as powerful as I did and I can’t wait to attend next year’s event!

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