The Myrtle Beach Convention Center hosted the 10th annual Women in Philanthropy and Leadership Conference on Feb. 10-11, 2020.
Over 250 women working in businesses around the Grand Strand and speakers from at least two different countries were in attendance. Some of the most notable speakers at the event were fashion designer and entrepreneur Rebecca Minkoff, Tererai Trent, and Coastal Carolina’s own Atiya Stokes-Brown.
This event is more than a conference for women. It is an opportunity to learn about others’ professional goals, experiences, and accomplishments so as to incorporate such lessons into one’s future endeavors. As a student, attending this event inspires a new mindset for young women.
Madeline Filling, a CCU senior, said, “This conference has done so much for me as a student and as a woman. I have learned so much from inspirational women who have shared their stories and imparted wisdom. I have been able to take their advice and apply it to my own life and it has helped me go after dreams that I never thought were possible... and I am eternally grateful for that.”
Minkoff, a fashion designer, was one of the first speakers to present. Minkoff shared of her struggles in the beginning of her career. She was used to hearing the word no. When she landed the opportunity to have one of her fashion handbags presented in a film, the post office failed to deliver the bag on time, and the production crew had to film the scene with a different purse. Minkoff could have easily given up at this moment, but she chose not to, and now she owns one of the most renown women’s fashion lines in the world! Minkoff is someone that many young females look up to as a fashion icon.
“My favorite speaker from this year was Rebecca Minkoff. She kept it real and honest, which I can appreciate. She had great advice for young people who want to chase their dreams which was so special,” Filling said.
This year was also special not only because it marked the 10 year anniversary, but the founder of WIPL, Terri DeCenzo, Coastal Carolina’s First Lady, also received a great honor. Having started this organization in 2007, DeCenzo is the inspiration behind WIPL. Everyone that has attended the events has witnessed its impact on the local community. In honor of the hard work and dedication that DeCenzo has contributed to the conference, the Inspiring Women’s Award was renamed the Theresa M. DeCenzo Inspiring Women's Award.
The award is awarded to women in South Carolina and beyond who have excelled as a leader and a visionary for women. This year the award was given to Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, Gayle Resetar, and Jennifer Wilson.
Evette was one of the speakers who seemed to connect the most with the younger women in attendance. Evette is the 93rd Lieutenant Governor of SC and is the first Republican female lieutenant governor.
“The speaker that resonated with me the most was Lt. Gov. Pam Evette. She shared a story that struck a chord in me and I will probably take with me as I go throughout life,” Filling said.
This event has opened the door for women in the Grand Strand to have a safe place to come together, to grow, to thrive within our community.
As a student who has had the opportunity to attend the event more than once, Cora Allard, shared that this event has helped her grow over the years and has allowed her to dream bigger than she imagined.
“It helped me over the years because it has given me examples of how my life could be after college. Seeing women from all different backgrounds makes me realize that hard work and dedication can take me anywhere,” Allard said.
The Next WIPL conference will be held in February 2021.