Three years ago, an enterprising group of women in the event space decided the industry need an inclusive community where they could share resources and encourage each other to try new things. This labor of love by founding members Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, Mary Higham,CEM, Tamela Balock, MTA, CMP, DES, Mas Tadesse and Kiki Janssens Fox became the uplifting resource that is today known as Association for Women in Events (AWE). At more than 300 members strong, Fox, new president of the group and senior manager of national sales at Core-apps, describes AWE as a friend who encourages you to “go for it” when you are wavering.

In order to serve a diverse member base with varied backgrounds and ways of connecting, the group is focused on sharing tips and tools in whatever way is most convenient for members. Wonder what other planners are doing to take care of their health on the road or find new opportunities? There is an #AWEchat Twitter group for that on Thursdays. Trying to build a more inclusive company? Join AWE webinars and share best practices. Looking to keep your skills sharp? The AWE Facebook group challenges members to keep reaching with one discussion question a day. Need career advice? Immediate Coaching allows you to connect with someone who has been there and can share what worked. Looking to connect with other women in your area? AWE Meet & Greets leverage the strength of face 2 face to empower the women who are normally behind the scenes.

“Plus, we have a lot of fun,” says Fox, who agreed to answer our Smart Women questions on behalf of the collective.

Inspiration: We are all about women empowering women, rather than competing. We lift each other up.

Superpower: Positive disruptors. We built this company in a very untraditional way. We recruited board members who had never served in that type of role before because how else would they get that experience and what better way to find fresh ideas? We have always had men on our board because building a better world requires everyone pitching in and we have been lucky enough to work with some wonderful advocates.

Action Item: We are addressing the lack of women in high level positions by connecting and sharing information. We also have to walk the walk when it comes to diversity and make sure all women feel welcome, even if their experiences are different. And sexual harassment is an important topic that needs to be addressed with input from people who understand the impacts. By partnering with industry organizations, we can share information and resources that will help everyone contribute at the highest levels. We are paving the way for incoming generations to work in a dynamic industry that is welcoming and safe.

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