Women's Summit gives support to women's goals

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Oct. 7, 2011
Columnist Gina Barreca and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman were speakers at the Women's Summit sponsored by the Connecticut Women's Alliance at the East Hartford Cultural Center on Oct. 6. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Columnist Gina Barreca and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman were speakers at the Women's Summit sponsored by the Connecticut Women's Alliance at the East Hartford Cultural Center on Oct. 6. Photos by Frances Taylor.

The first Connecticut Women's Summit was held at East Hartford Community Cultural Center on Oct. 6. The event featured appearances by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, columnist Gina Barreca, and Theresa Younger, director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.

The event drew approximately 200 business and entrepreneurial women to a networking event, where the need for more women to run for public office was also discussed.

The event was sponsored by the Connecticut Women's Alliance, an organization founded a year ago to support women's causes and provide resources to women in business.

Wyman said that more women are needed in the corridors of political power. “When you get in, always bring another woman with you,” Wyman said. “Don't let the door slam behind you. As women, we need to hold that door open behind, and bring other people up.”

The group also gives charitable support to organizations that work for women's advancement, said Wendy Leahy, president of the Connecticut Women's Alliance. “In addition to supporting women in business, we also want to give back,” Leahy said. “'We give to organizations that have the same mission that we do.”

This year the alliance is supporting the work of Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWELF), which provides free legal information to women. “Women are still being paid less than men, and many people are aware of that,” Leahy said.

Tonya Healis, who founded a construction business with her husband, said that women-and minority-owned businesses face many hurdles. “There's a lot of challenges – not enough inclusion in projects, lack of capital,” said Healis, whose Woodview Construction Services is based in Windsor. “But there is also a lot of great programs out there to help, but you have to know about them, and be steadfast in trying to get the help,” Healis said.

Kathy McShane, president of Ladies Who Launch, a consulting firm that helps women start their own business, was also a speaker at the summit. She started her business one year ago. She teaches her clients how to network, and how to negotiate.

“It's critical that women organize and support one another,” McShane said.


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