Last week’s Women’s Conference sponsored by the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce offered a sell-out crowd of busy women some time to be encouraged, empowered and connect.

Desiree Dolberry, marketing coordinator for the Chamber and organizer of the event, said over 270 tickets were sold, with women still requesting tickets up to the day of the event.

Dolberry said the conference was developed to empower and educate women in the region.

“It is important that we offer resources to women in our community so that they are equipped with knowledge and share a larger bond with more women in the Twin Counties region,” Dolberry said.

Dolberry said panelists were carefully chosen, offering a mix of local and regional iconic women to share an important lesson or story.

“It was important that we give each of the panelists and moderators a chance to reach over 250 women in the room so that their voice and opinions could be heard outside of their normal network. We hope each year we can provide a bigger and better event that will support a sustaining community of incredible women pouring into each other to learn and grow,” she added.

Panelists included Machelle Sanders, secretary of the state Department of Administration, Etaf Rum, Jessica Hicks, Karen Jones, Dr. Katrina Sweet, Tia Lucas, Melanie Diehl, Vivian Howard, Kellianne Davis, Maaso Kalema, Karen Lindquist, Mable Rogers, Shanna Strickland, Kristen Brabble, Kimberly Clayton, Sarah Dixon, Cari Green, Dr. Janee Avent Harris, Allison Jenkins, Patricia Adams, Anne Morgan, Tilda Whitaker, Jeffrey Batts, Crystal Hayden, Kristi Jones and Marty Nealey.

Incoming Chamber President Amanda Bell helped organize the event and spoke to the crowd. She said her favorite part of the conference was hearing from the diverse group of panelists.

“Our keynote speaker, Vivian Howard, was excellent. However, my favorite speakers were our local ladies. From artists to executives to entrepreneurs, we are blessed to have talented, well spoken, poised and very smart women in the Twin Counties,” Bell said.

Bell called the event “empowering” and said attendants received an overview of political changes coming for women to common sense advice on how to deal with the unique, day-to-day pressures women face.

“As Rocky Mount panelist Robbie Green reminded us, “be your best youU” — not someone else,” Bell added.

Lindy Kitchin, owner of Lindy W. Kitchin Counseling, attended the event and said her favorite part of the conference was hearing the stories of other women and how they overcame adversity.

“Learning to persevere and push through failures is the key to finding success. I left the event with contacts, support, inspiration and encouragement from other female business owners to go after my dreams,” Kitchin said. “Failures are never final for females.”

Local life coach and owner of P4 Coaching Institute Tilda Whitaker served as a panelist on the “Pioneering Pay Equity” session. Whitaker agreed with Kitchin and said the conference was a great opportunity to hear from other women about their experiences in the work world.

“It’s wise to learn from those that have paved the way,” Whitaker said. “I so believe in the importance of mentoring. We get to hopefully avoid mistakes and learn how to grow and conduct business in a profitable lane.”