Date ArticleType
7/26/2016 Waterbury
Business Women’s Forum benefits employees and employers

*This column originally appeared in the Republican-American Newspaper on Monday, July 25, 2016

Business Women’s Forum benefits employees and employers


Providing employees with educational opportunities and chances for personal growth should be a goal for any business organization.
Employees who feel respected and valued are happier and more productive. One way to achieve that is to offer your staff the chance to hear from experts and broaden their knowledge of the business world.

That’s one goal of our annual Business Women’s Forum, the state’s largest and longest-running full-day annual conference for women. Now in its 34th year, the 2016 BWF will feature crisis management expert Judy Smith, founder and president of Smith & Company, an author, and the inspiration for the hit ABC television series, “Scandal.” Smith will be the luncheon keynote speaker for the forum, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Aqua Turf Club in the Plantsville section of Southington.

The morning keynote speaker will be Christine Cashen, author of “The Good Stuff: Quips and Tips on Life, Love, Work and Happiness.” Cashen, a member of the

Council of Peers Award for Excellence Speaker Hall of Fame, is an authority on sparking innovative ideas, handling conflict, reducing stress and energizing employees.

The BWF also offers workshops on a variety of educational topics. This year that includes the power of buying local, making the most of social media platforms to create real relationships, managing today’s intergenerational workforce, and avoiding burnout.

A program of the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc., the BWF also has provided more than $100,000 in scholarships to female Post University students pursuing a degree in a business-related field.

Joanne LaCombe-Pasqualucci, director of production scheduling for ESPN in Bristol and a member of the BWF board of directors, said the forum is organized by female executives dedicated to promoting the professional and personal growth of working women.

“The board members spend a lot of time organizing the one-day event,” she said. “We are all dedicated to making this conference spectacular by providing meaningful workshops and inspiring speakers.”

Brittany Lahm, music licensing coordinator-creative services at ESPN, said attending last year’s forum was valuable for her. “The speakers were enthusiastic and interesting, and gave me some new insight on how to approach different situations,” Lahm said.

Virginia O’Rourke, owner of O’Rourke and Birch Florist in Waterbury and chairwoman of the 2016 BWF, said the forum has always sought to be relevant. “Since its beginnings, the BWF has provided thousands of attendees with access to phenomenal speakers, networking opportunities and diverse training during a full day of activities,” she said. 

The forum offers employers more than just skill and leadership development opportunities for their staff. A business also can benefit from being a sponsor, which provides direct access and connections to an audience of leaders and managers for employment, research and marketing; direct sales and sampling opportunities, and the chance to raise brand awareness.

Donna Flynn, first vice president for Liberty Bank, said her organization has experienced the value in supporting the forum.

“We’ve taken part in the Business Women’s Forum for several years and consider it an essential part of our marketing efforts,” Flynn said. “With more and more women taking leadership roles in business, this event has connected us with decision-makers and referral sources we might not otherwise reach.”

With so many benefits to your employees and your business, we hope you will join us for this year’s forum.

For sponsorship information, call Courtney Ligi at 203-757-0701 or email her at For forum information or tickets,visit or call the Chamber.

Lynn Ward is president and CEO of the Waterbury Regional Chamber. Contact her at 203-757-0701 Ext. 310 or