Kathrine Switzer, keynote speaker at the SD CEO women’s business conference shown with Helen Merriman, director of SD CEO at BHSU, and Kay Jorgenson, conference committee member.

A women’s business conference, hosted by the SDCEO which is housed at Black Hills State University, drew nearly 200 participants from a three-state area and was sold out weeks before the event.

The second annual “From High Heels to High Places Conference,” which was held in Rapid City last week featured a nationally known keynote speaker, Kathrine Switzer who told her inspirational life story. As a young college student, Switzer broke barriers for women athletes around the world when she dared to enter the Boston Marathon and made history as she completed the race despite race officials nearly physically pushing her from the marathon. She has become an icon in the running world and has used her influence to create opportunities for other people.

Guest presenters included Linda Rabe, Priscilla Romkema, Ginny Wood Nelson, and Ross and Tonya Johnson.
Helen Merriman, director of SD CEO, says the conference received rave reviews in a post conference survey and is excited about future events in the region.

According to Merriman, conference attendees noted that they appreciated the opportunity to enhance relationships and network with other women in the business world while having access to thought-provoking, insightful, and informative sessions that were applicable to today’s business world.

The SD CEO will host the Celebrating Women in Business luncheon May 17, 2012 in Spearfish. Plans are already being made for next year’s “From High Heels to High Places” conference which will be held in October 2012.

Merriman notes that the conference is already generating a tremendous amount of interest from sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors.

The SD CEO is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), and is part of a network of more than 110 centers nationwide established through the SBA’s women’s business funding. While services are available to all those interested in entrepreneurship, there is a special emphasis on women, women veterans, Native Americans, the socially and/or economically disadvantaged, and youth entrepreneurs.