The Chatham-Kent Women’s Leadership Network Panelists Robyn Brady, Manager, News Director, and Morning News Anchor with 99.1 FM, Elizabeth Suni, Owner of Wooly Doodle Apparel Inc., Rosemary Montgomery, Economic Development Officer with Chatham-Kent Economic Development, and Shannon Prince, Curator of the Buxton National Historic Site & Museum (Submitted photo)

It was standing room only at the Sons of Kent last week as women from across Chatham-Kent came together for the first Chatham-Kent Women’s Leadership Network Panel and Networking Night.

The event which officially started at 7 pm saw attendees arriving as early as 5:30 pm to ensure that they could secure their spot.

“It was phenomenal to see the amazing response and the positive vibe in the room last night – very powerful,” said Katie Vilaranda, one of the event organizers and owner of Position One CEO, in a media release.

“One minute we were sitting down quietly going over final details and the next there was waves of people coming in the doors.”

The event was developed in partnership between Chatham-Kent Economic Development and three community partners, Moréna McDonald, Owner of 519 Events and Promotions; Katie Vilaranda, Owner of Position One SEO; and Jordan Sinclair, PhD, and Data Scientist with Vertias.

“I can’t believe what was achieved in a month and a half,” stated Andrew Tompsett, Marketing and Communications Officer with Chatham-Kent Economic Development.

“What started as an introductory cup of coffee at Sam’s Percolator at the end of March, turned into a full-fledged event just 45 days later. It’s simply mind-blowing. I can’t thank the organizing team, panelists, volunteers, and the entire community enough for making this happen.”

The evening opened with an initial networking mix and mingle and was then transitioned to a formal panel discussion that addressed leadership from a variety of perspectives including business, education, personal and professional development, and community.

Attendees were invited to ask questions and to engage with the panel.

The evening ended with more networking and lively conversations.

“I loved the ‘buzz’ and networking in the room – look out CK, you haven’t heard the last from us,” said Shannon Prince, event panelist and Curator of the Buxton Museum, in a media release.

Event moderator, Jordan Sinclair said, “I think we can all agree last night was a success by any measure. The panel did a great job – speaking from the heart and sharing some really insightful thoughts and experiences.”

Sinclair added: “The response proves the need for this type of event in the community as clearly there is room to fill the void for networking and development.”

Attendees were encouraged to provide their thoughts and suggestions for future events and topics as part of their registration name tags, which were collected at the end of the evening.

“I have just started to compile the list of suggestions and ideas from everyone, and I can say that there is a lot of interest in looking at both practical skills and also having some theory-based training,” said Moréna McDonald.

“One thing is clear from the responses, more networking opportunities are requested and even the suggestion to open it up to have co-ed events.”

“This event is just a starting point and we want to work together with women, men, and all leaders across Chatham-Kent to build a strong, informative, and supportive community,” said Tompsett.

“Watch for activity and register for updates on the www.investck.ca website as there are a variety of events being planned.”

To learn more about the Chatham-Kent Women’s Leadership Network and continue the conversation, visit their new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ckwln.