SD CEO conference gathers women from South Dakota communities

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, September 23, 2014/Categories: 2014








           Participants were challenged to create the Chrysler Building from nano blocks during the relationship building activity.






           From left, Chauntel Wright Moore, Regional Technical Education Center (RTEC) Kristi Palecek, TruXedo, Inc. Kari Karst, BX Civil &amp Construction Adrienne Kusek, Yankton High School student Dr. Priscilla Romkema, dean of the College of Business &amp Natural Sciences at BHSU Nicole Wiig, Yankton High School student Helen Merriman, director of the SD CEO and Dr. Barbara Looney, assistant professor of business management at BHSU.



From succeeding in a male-dominated industry, to building relationships, to weathering change and developing emotional intelligence, the Yankton Women&rsquos Business Conference offered participants a broad range of opportunities to increase professional development, build business skills and network with women from all levels of business.

More than 100 women from 10 South Dakota communities attended the conference in Yankton, hosted by the South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) Women&rsquos Business Center, at Black Hills State University.

"The Yankton Business Conference gathered an impressive range of women business leaders, especially from the technology and manufacturing sectors," said Dr. Bobbi Looney, assistant professor of business management at BHSU. "The opportunities to network and hear firsthand explanations of challenging business dynamics yielded valuable insights for each attendee to consider, relative to her own work environment."

The conference featured speakers Kristi Palecek, general manager of TruXedo in Yankton Looney, assistant professor of management at BHSU Dr. Priscilla Romkema, dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences at BHSU Kari Karst, president of BX Civil &amp Construction in Dell Rapids and Helen Merriman, director of SD CEO.  Speakers presented from their professional experiences and also included personal stories about what they endured in their career paths to reach their success.

Palecek&rsquos message encouraged women to embrace opportunities in the workplace.

"Women feel confident only when perfect. How many of you don&rsquot answer a question unless you know you have 100 percent of the facts?" she asked the audience during her presentation.

She added that women need to shake the feeling of always needing to be perfect.

"It is better to speak up and be wrong 20 percent of the time than to never speak up and have your voice and ideas not heard," Palecek said.

Karst outlined her life story, sharing how she progressed in a male-dominated field and the challenges she faced becoming the strong, successful woman she is today.

Participants appreciated Romkema&rsquos presentation on emotional intelligence.

"Every year at some point I attend a training session on emotional intelligence and leadership, yet this conference provided more direct insight since the message was gender specific," said Bridget Benson of Applied Engineering in Yankton and a conference planning team member.

"I felt each woman &ndash no matter if they were president of their company or an administrative assistant - had an enjoyable experience and left motivated and educated," said attendee Jacque LeBrun, BX Civil &amp Construction.

"The event allowed me to personally build connections, and meet some outstanding women at this conference," said Shannon Newman, Vermeer-Freeman Mfg. in Freeman and conference planning team member.

BHSU&rsquos main campus is located in Spearfish, but the University also offers classes in Yankton at the Regional Technical Education Center (RTEC), at the University Center-Rapid City, and online. Chauntel Wright-Moore is the BHSU Engineering Tech representative.

"This conference provided a fantastic skill-building and networking opportunity for women professionals from Yankton and the surrounding area," Wright-Moore said.

"The &lsquoRosie the Riveter&rsquo theme celebrated the number of women working in manufacturing, as well as women in all walks of private and public businesses. The Rosies of WWII really laid the foundation for today&rsquos women," she added. "Women entered the male-dominated workforce with a level of confidence and determination never seen before. Over years of continued perseverance, this translates into the successful and accomplished leaders of today."

SD CEO will host the fifth annual Women&rsquos Business Conference at the Lodge at Deadwood on Friday, Oct. 24. The focus of this year&rsquos conference will be team building, bringing back popular Leading Edge Coaching and Development. Register for the conference online at

SD CEO, the only Women's Business Center in the state of South Dakota, provides comprehensive training, education and business assistance, support and counseling for aspiring and established entrepreneurs to foster economic development in South Dakota. 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&rsquos women&rsquos business funding.

The SD CEO is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration through such funding does not constitute an expressed or implied endorsement of any of the components or participants&rsquo opinions, products or services. SD CEO operates under Cooperative Agreement SBAHQ-13-W-0034. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. All SBA programs and services are provided to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Accommodation will be provided to clients with Limited English Proficiency when requested in advance.

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