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Empowering women: Revamped chamber program provides strength, tools for success

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    The Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corporation joins with the Carbon County Women in Business Committee to present a new 2018 program, “Be Your Own Hero.” From left, Marlyn Kissner, executive director and vice president of the northern region; Dina Tulli Davis, committee co-chairwoman; Dr. Lois Wilson; Shelley Hunt, co-chairwoman; and Alice Wanamaker, CCEDC assistant vice president. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS

Published January 20. 2018 06:33AM

Fifty-seven women gathered on a recent Thursday afternoon at Macaluso’s Lantern Restaurant for the first guest speaker in the 2018 Women in Business series.

Dr. Lois Wilson, co-author of “Your Shift Matters: Breakdown to Breakthrough,” presented the January installment of the “Be Your Own Hero” program.

“We want to not only help women with some business ‘hard skills’ but more importantly, also help them with communication, self-confidence, work/life balance, organization, decision-making and creating positive mindsets that create the foundation for empowerment and strength,” said Dina Tulli Davis, co-chair of Carbon County Women in Business Committee.

“The ‘Be Your Own Hero’ concept is definitely about lifting up women, helping them develop their self-confidence and strength to create balance in their lives,” said co-chair Shelley Hunt.

“We also want to be able to fill in the gaps in the parts of business that you don’t learn somewhere else,” she said.

The Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corporation partnered with the newly formed committee to revitalize the 10-year-old networking opportunity. The committee is working to “empower women to cultivate their personal power to create their most ideal life both personally and professionally.”

Leading the group are co-chairwomen Davis of JumpSpark Creative Group and Hunt, owner of Jim Thorpe Massage and Wellness Studio, with Tracy Damiani, Heather Lindaman, Kathy Matson and Kathy Ruff rounding out the new committee.

“We want to create a strong community of women in our area to help support one another through learning and networking and also help economic growth,” Davis said.

Carbon’s WIB founder Akantha Susko, who created the program in 2008, was recognized at the luncheon.

“When we started there was only two of us in Carbon,” she told the crowd.

“We said there must be other women here who face the same challenges. We started reaching out and growing,” she said.

Wilson agreed, saying, “No woman gets anywhere in the world without strength and perseverance.”

“From the moment we are born, it’s an uphill battle. We are told, ‘It’s a man’s world,’ ” she said.

“As women we do so much, wear so many hats. The goal here is to give you a foundation to live our most authentic lives.”

Wilson said her success in her businesses and personal life stems from the gift of being able to create a “safe space.”

“People just need something. Relationships, connections, water and a good plate of food. Everyone needs something. Home is not so much of a place as it is right here, in our heart,” she said.

“What creates the safety is the intention we put into what we are doing,” Wilson said.

The doctor then went on to talk about creating a self safe-space by connecting to the breath, leading the large group in a round of breathing exercises to illustrate her point.

“Once we create safety for ourselves we can go out and create safety for other people. We cannot give away what we don’t have,” she said.

CCEDC’s Marlyn Kissner, executive director and vice president of the northern region, thanked the crowd for joining together.

“We have so many amazing women here in Carbon County.”

Kissner said to Susko, “We wouldn’t be here without your vision.”

As plates cleared and coffee cups were refilled, the program concluded with a few spare minutes of networking and catching up between friends and colleagues.

“It was an awesome experience. I’m definitely leaving here more calm,” said Rachel Kapes, marketing director of Heritage Hill.

“I’m not leaving the same as when I got here,” said Pam Ahner of Awesome View Properties.

Lindaman said, “It’s just nice to be around a group of strong women. It’s very uplifting.”

The next luncheon will take place in Lehighton at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 8 with speaker Xandria Ahner, owner of Seventh Moon Wellness Spa, where the program will be hosted.

According to the committee, “Attendees can expect opportunities to learn from guest speakers, who will address topics that are related to our yearly theme, and to receive valuable tools to immediately implement changes in their lives.”

“The stronger and larger our WIB Community is the more that we can do to affect not only change in Carbon County but also in the world,” said Davis.

Preregistration is strongly recommended. To register, visit or see the Carbon County Women in Business Facebook group for further details.

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