Lessons Learned at Inaugural SheMoves Conference

MRAA staff recently attended the inaugural SheMoves Conference hosted by Associations North, a regional association for association professionals. Sessions held included topics on leaders and our impact, professional development, advocating for yourself, not apologizing as a reflex, imposter syndrome and leaning on our strong community of women. Here are a few of the takeaways I encourage everyone to consider as we wrap up Women’s History Month.

Lesson 1: Support women, our current and future business owners.
The exhibition portion of the event highlighted local women-owned businesses. They shared their entrepreneurial stories, founded by themselves or their daughters, and how they give back to their communities. We’re happy to report Onica surpassed her Girl Scout cookie sales goal! I got ahead on my Christmas shopping and was able to network with these women and talk about informational interviews with youth in their businesses.

Lesson 2: Take time to recognize women in your life as leaders.
Liz Keener, MRAA Director of Dealer Development

Lesson 2: Take time to recognize the women in your life as leaders.   
Sometimes, the best leaders are on your own team, in your own home. I know I’m surrounded by brilliance at work every day … but do you recognize the leadership within your organization? MRAA got to experience this in a new way when Liz Keener, MRAA Director of Dealer Development, took to the stage. She shared The MRAA Book Club passion and invited everyone to read a recent favorite of hers – “Wolfpack” by Abby Wambach. I’m proud to see how she is making an impact on our team, in the marine retail industry, as well as the industry of associations.

Lesson 3: I am a leader and have a voice worth listening to.
Sarah Korbel, MRAA Events & Operations Manager (by Block Portrait Studios)

Lesson 3: I am a leader and have a voice worth listening to.
I, Sarah Korbel, MRAA’s Events & Operations Manager, prefer to be behind the scenes and offstage. Thus, when asked to be on a panel titled “Infinite Insights,” I laughed. I didn’t see myself as being particularly insightful, but I do believe we can learn by doing things that scare us. So I said yes. While preparing, I thought about whether or not we can declare ourselves a “leader.” While I’m still not sure we can, I do believe we get to choose how we lead. And if someone decides how we lead is worth emulating … that’s leadership to me.

I choose to lead honestly, imperfectly and through relationship with others. I talked about how a leader doesn’t need to know everything. Part of leading is knowing your own capacity and recognizing you can’t do it all. Rather, great leaders bring the right people and resources together for success. This all came full circle when I learned after the event that I had this opportunity because another woman I met only once before, said she appreciated my insights and thought I’d be a great addition. She saw me as a leader with a voice worth listening to. I have a thank you note in the mail to her today.

Lesson 4: Men can, and should amplify the voices of women.
After the event was over, a colleague and I were discussing the delicate debate of whether to highlight men during a women’s focused event. One could debate it – however, I encourage everyone to think of it like this: One of the most powerful things men can do for women is to show up and listen. One’s gender doesn’t determine worthiness, and we all know this, but in a world where not everything is perfect, men showing up like this is an endorsement of these women as leaders. It’s saying – “I believe I have something I can learn here.”

To me personally, it meant two of my bosses felt what I had to say was important. That they felt they could learn from me. I am extremely grateful they show up for me, Liz, and the women that they spent time with at this event.  

I’m grateful Associations North took the time to learn how women make up more than 70 percent of the Associations Industry. And as a result, chose to give women an opportunity to learn from and network with each other, and celebrate our community. As we wrap up Women’s History Month, I encourage you to reach out to the women in your life and share how you have learned from them, what you appreciate about their leadership.