"Together Rising" was the theme of the 2008 NAWBO Annual Conference held in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. Women Business owners ...
from all over the world come together and find inspiration in one another.
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Ivy Hartman: Known throughout the world as the Jewel of the Desert, the historic Biltmore Hotel Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona is the setting for the 2008 National Association of Women Business Owners annual conference.
Change has always meant great things for this organization. 30 years ago, when the first chapters were formed, these women business owners set out to change public policy. And they have. And still today it remains part of their mission, to create innovative ways to change the business culture. And that message resonates here at the 2008 conference, as NAWBO undergoes some monumental changes of their own.
Cynthia McClain Hill: The most significant developments in an organization like NAWBO is to move from being volunteer-driven completely to having staff employees to help us actually executing our plan. We’ve have a very strong management company that did work for us. But now what we’re looking for is leadership at the executive level. That’s the most critical thing. And it’s but necessary for us to go from really good to great and that’s where we’re headed.
Ivy Hartman: Public policy is still a high priority for these women business leaders. According to the annual Women Impacting Public Policy or WIPP survey of women business owners, the top two concerns are the economy and healthcare. Representatives for both Barack Obama and John McCain addressed some of these concerns in a panel discussion at the conference.
Sharon Harper: Senator McCain has been sensitive to issues of healthcare, portability, accessibility, lower taxes, not tax increases.
Ann Fudge: Your primary challenge is access to capital. And that’s one of the reasons why I'm supporting Barack Obama for president. He has several programs which are focused on making access to capital more easy and simple for you.
Ivy Hartman: There’s inspiration everywhere you look here at the Biltmore Hotel. From the beautiful gardens to the natural landscape and you can't deny the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture here. But what’s going on inside is what has these women on their feet cheering for more.
Nely Galan: Before there is light, there is always darkness. I find that right before the sun comes in, it feels like you can't take it anymore. Breathe through it because I tell you right after the darkness comes to light. It never fails.
Holly Luisi: In the almost five years that I have been a NAWBO member, I have been to every conference, every public policy date. This year by far it is truly the best.
Suzanne Pease: NAWBO has given me the confidence, the opportunity, more opportunities to represent the United States and the Middle East and Tunisia. After talking to 3000 women, partly in Arabic, I can do anything.
Mary Ella Cummings: By coming here and finding women who are doing these things and are holding their own and more, it’s really inspired me to be confident.
Ivy Hartman: Amidst the engaging panels, inspirational keynote speakers, interviews, networking and politics, attendees have time to let their hair down.
Loretta Love Huff: There’s been great visibility for the local economy, for the city, for this wonderful venue that we’re in and for our chapter as well. So this is Phoenix and this has been up until recently, cowboy country or cowgirl country. So we wanted something that would distinguish us from all of the other attendees here and set us apart as the whole chapter and we thought what better thing than something kind of Western thing. So we found this cowboy hat.
Ivy Hartman: The signature cowgirl hats are not the only thing at this event, attendees were given eco-friendly, reusable, green water bottles to highlight NAWBO’s commitment to the environment.
And as the sun rises on another warm day in the desert, these women business owners leave with 2008 NAWBO conference in Phoenix with a renewed vision, for the future of women in business.
I'm Ivy Hartman reporting for sbtv.com. Small business is our only business.