Only in its second year, the annual Women on the Rise executive panel discussion is already developing a reputation as a high-profile event.
Thursday's panelists included Starbuck's Business Development Manager Dwayne Hoffman, Celtic Healthcare's Central Pennsylvania and Maryland Regional Director Tonya Miller and The Hershey Company's Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Todd Camp.
The event also grew by 10 percent, selling 70 seats for the discussion about corporate social responsibility held in Harrisburg Area Community College's C. Ted Lick Wildwood Conference Center.
Women on the Rise is presented by Business Women's Forum, a day-long spring forum and cooperative effort by the Greater Carlisle Area, Harrisburg Regional and West Shore chambers of commerce to provide professional development to the region's businesswomen.
"We try to tailor it to more of the decision makers in an organization, where as Business Women's Forum attracts everyone," said Megan Kraemer, events director for the Greater Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce and event administrator for Business Women's Forum.
"Before we did this program, we used to have a sponsorship lunch," explained Lisa Stokes, chair of the Business Women's Forum Women on the Rise committee and owner of B.R.P. Entertainment in Camp Hill. "Then we thought, let's make it more meaningful and have it be professional development."
The executive panel discussion this year drew its first corporate sponsor, Latsha, Davis & McKenna Attorneys at Law in Mechanicsburg.
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"I've been involved with Business Women's Forum for years, and I believe in the concept of developing our business women in the area," said Angela Thomas, a shareholder and director of the law firm. "(I) am glad to see a divided effort for both executive women."
Women attending the event Thursday were impressed by both the event itself and the subject matter.
"It made me believe that no matter what your organization is, it's an issue you should be looking at," Thomas said. "It encouraged me to go back and help our organization start an organized program."
"I thought it was a very, very interesting program with an important topic that is different from what the standard run-of-the-mill topics tend to be for women's groups," said Kelley Keller, owner of The Keller Law Firm in Carlisle.
The executive panel discussion was Keller's first experience with Business Women's Forum.
"I thought it was very well done," she said. "You have a responsibility, as a business entity, to the community in which you work."
"I didn't know anything about the topic," admitted attorney Meghann Garrett, one of Keller's employees. "I spent a lot of time thinking about how, being a small law firm, how we could employ some of the things they were talking about.
"It was interesting to see how not only the large companies but also the small companies are using the techniques."