The conference will host four morning concurrent sessions

Cookeville – The College of Business at Tennessee Tech University is hosting the 2023 Women’s Leadership Conference to celebrate Women’s History Month on March 24. 

“Our 2023 event will feature concurrent sessions and keynote speakers from a diverse set of experienced professionals who have managed career pivots, established businesses, led nonprofits and corporate enterprises, volunteered for their communities, and pushed their careers further with the support of their networks,” said College of Business Director of Program Development and Engagement, Cheryl Montgomery. 

The conference will host four morning concurrent sessions. Faculty member and Tech alumna Susan Wells will present “Disagree Without Being Disagreeable.” Wells is a lecturer, mediator and professor in the decision sciences and management department. She will share her knowledge and tips for getting the point across without alienating friends and creating new critics. 

Tech alumna Emma Crabtree, owner of Glass Tangerine, will present another concurrent session. Crabtree will demonstrate the art of creating a floral arrangement while sharing the successes and pitfalls of becoming an entrepreneur. She left her established career as a licensed mental health therapist to open Glass Tangerine, a community-centered houseplant and floral shop with a full mercantile of goods from local artists and makers.

In addition to alumni speakers, the conference will feature two other concurrent sessions; Cookeville Mayor Laurin Wheaton will speak about “Risk and Reward.” Wheaton is a mom, wife, professional and volunteer who took a risk several years ago when she first ran for the Cookeville City Council. She then ran for a second term and was elected mayor. She will talk about getting comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone and how one can calculate the risk and manage the reward.

College of Business faculty member and advocate for financial literacy Alma Nunez, will lead sessions on steps women need to take to secure their financial futures. Nunez will cover the principles for financial wellness, whether in the beginning of a career or contemplating a change of profession. 

Two keynotes will follow lunch; first, Cookeville native Katelyn Steakley will discuss creating impact in your community.

Steakley is the founder of the Cookeville Strong Facebook group, a group created immediately after the 2020 tornado disaster to assist with the relief efforts. With over 26,000 members, the platform remains a valuable resource for nonprofit, government and community leaders. Steakley is the executive director of the Putnam Education Partners Foundation, which feeds over 600 schoolchildren every weekend in the Upper Cumberland. 

The closing keynote speaker will be Jasmine Hardin, a media industry professional.

She has over 20 years in the media industry and was named regional vice president and general manager at WSMV in Nashville and stations in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana by Gray Television. Before her promotion as a regional vice president, Hardin was at WVLT in Knoxville, where she served as national sales manager, vice president and general manager.

Hardin will share stories about her professional journey in the media world, and the important role mentorship played in her success. 

“Jasmine’s passion for supporting women in business and her message for working moms will resonate with today’s working professionals and provide the next generation of women with keen insight as they enter the workforce,” Montgomery said. 

Conference attendees will receive one of two highly acclaimed books, “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus and “The House of Eve” by Sadeqa Johnson, as part of the conference package. The conference will take place in Johnson Hall and the Roaden University Center on Tech’s campus from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Conference registration is $85 and student tickets are $10.

For more information about the March 24 event and the books featured as part of the conference package and to register, visit

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech.

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