I always struggle to find a work-life balance. I think I’m like a lot of women, and that is what empowered me at the Women’s Conference of Florida; held recently at the beautiful Marriott Waterside in Downtown Tampa. I needed a reminder I’m not alone; and with the support of women around me, I can figure out I can accomplish more dreams and live a more fulfilling life. 

The first keynote address was by powerhouse speaker Nely Galan, producer, author and former President of Entertainment for Telemundo. Galan told compelling stories about growing up with her immigrant parents that shaped her future. Her big message? “Don’t buy shoes, buy buildings.” Galan has a new book out (all attendees got a copy and if you were patient enough to wait in line, a signed copy too!) entitled “Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant and Rich in Every Way.” Galan is like your best friend who keeps it real for you doling out real-world advice. There is no Prince Charming she says; you’ve got to figure this out for yourself!

Tiffany Dufu, the Chief Leadership Officer at LEVO, spoke about her new book, “drop the ball: achieving more by doing less.”  Dufu let go of her preconceived ideas about being the perfect wife, mother, and businesswoman and set out to redefine what she wanted to achieve. One thing that has stuck with me since her presentation is something she asked her children. What defines a good mom to you? Surprisingly they said that it was when she’d make scones for breakfast on the weekends. Wait..What? Could it be that easy?! I have vowed to ask my college-aged kids the same question when we’re all together for Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll be surprised by what they'd say, like so many moms. 

“This year, we expanded our statewide platform as we continued on our mission to address timely and relevant issues of importance to women in the state of Florida,” said Arlene DiBenigno, president, and CEO of the Women’s Conference of Florida. “The true benefit of this event is that it harnesses the power of women together – engaging, empowering, and encouraging each other.”

The Women’s Conference invited college women all over Florida to participate in an essay contest to attend the conference as well as vying for scholarship dollars. Last year it was high school women in competition from Pinellas County and Hillsborough County Schools. 

This year college women around the state were asked to complete a 500-word essay prompt. The top five winners each received a $1,000 scholarship from State Farm. Ultimate Medical Academy also sponsored breakout sessions for the students for resume writing and interviewing tips. 

Tampa educator Paula Meckley's, past PTSA President of both Wilson Middle School and Plant High School and current member of the Hillsborough County School Board Advisory Committee, feels strongly that as professional women the conference needs to set an example for the young business women. It’s a passion she shares with DiBenigno. Meckley says, "As established women, we must focus our efforts on the mentorship of the next generation. No matter what path life has taken you down, your experiences have lessons that can be shared to the benefit of the young women trying to chart their course." 

Whether you’re a student, mom, you work inside the home, outside the home or just love a knowledgeable speaker; you’re bound to get something from the Women’s Conference of Florida. It's empowering to know you're not alone in your struggle to have it all. You won’t want to miss it! (Plus, if you haven't been to the Marriott Waterside in Tampa, it's just beautiful with a great view of the Hillsborough River and Tampa's Riverwalk. They did a great job helping event organizers with the logistics of the day too - lots of attendants all around to answer questions. It was seamless!) 

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Cover photo from the Women's Conference Facebook page