EDASC partners for inaugural WE Ignite Women’s Conference

Thursday, February 28, 2019

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ANACORTES – The inaugural WE Ignite Women’s Conference was held Feb. 8 at the Swinomish Casino & Lodge, in partnership with EDASC. The conference provided business education opportunities for women through keynote speakers, panel sessions, skill building and networking opportunities.

About 225 attended.

The WE Ignite Women’s Conference is the brainchild of Erin Long, a prominent Skagit County community member and 2016 Skagit Women’s Alliance and Network Woman of the Year award recipient.

EDASC partnered with Long during the planning stages of the conference when she ran into administrative issues preventing her from accepting donations or making payments. The problem was that WE Ignite wasn’t yet a registered 501c3 nonprofit. The event’s goal of connecting women with business resources in the community to help them take the next step aligned with EDASC’s mission, so CEO John Sternlicht and the EDASC Board of Directors agreed to incubate WE Ignite.

EDASC’s support primarily consisted of providing the accounting support necessary to make the conference possible for 2019, said EDASC Director of Finance and Administration Audra Ramerman. This included managing receipts, making payments and financial reporting. For Ramerman, the effort wound up being just another line item, but for Long, it would have been a significant amount of work and timing challenge if she had to juggle establishing the 501c3 before the inaugural event.

“Our support helped her so that she wouldn’t have to do all of the things required of a nonprofit right away,” Ramerman said. “Now she has a year to start the nonprofit and already has some surplus funds thanks to the success of the first conference.”

The conference was held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It featured panel sessions, including one on innovation moderated by Cindy Brooks of EDASC and Small Business Development Center. It also featured about a dozen resource tables, providing valuable information to attendees about the various services and resources available in the area.

Sternlicht was one of the welcome speakers, as was Swinomish Tribal Member Janie Beasley.

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