Women in Business Symposium

This annual event promises to once again deliver insightful ideas from a fresh perspective for women business executives. The event will feature a panel of area women business executives who will discuss best practices and strategies to overcome challenges in order to succeed in a fast paced business environment. A woman “Executive of the Year” will also be awarded.

Stories of change

Whether you’re driving the future of your organization or reevaluating your own priorities, change is a constant in life. The Women in Business Symposium explored stories of change in leadership, company culture, mental health, entrepreneurship and more from women in southeastern Wisconsin’s business community. Attendees also heard from this year’s Woman Executive of the Year – Kathy Koshgarian President & COO, The Dohmen Company Foundation.
It didn’t stop there. In addition to the panel and the awards presentation, the Women in Business Symposium expanded from a panel discussion to a half-day symposium with multiple breakout sessions for deeper discussions on topics like managing up and down, how fearless women lead, turning your side hustle into a full-time gig, mentorship, sponsorship and everything in between, crucial conversations and emotional wellness. Attendees walked away with fresh insights into how they can make change in their own life and company.
Moderator: Laura Gutiérrez, Executive Director, United Community Center
  • Peggy Williams-Smith, President & CEO, VISIT Milwaukee
  • Kendra Whitlock Ingram, President & CEO, Marcus Performing Arts Center
  • Leana Nakielski, Strategic Partnerships Director, American Family Insurance
  • Syneathia LaGrant, Vice President, Global Learning and Development, ManpowerGroup

Breakout Sessions

Toss Up: Giving attention to your intention
How many responsibilities are you juggling right now? How adaptable and flexible do you need to be to keep all of those balls in the air? Adaptability and flexibility will be characteristics that will be tested, strengthened and required in this post-pandemic transition as women leaders respond to their personal, family and work demands. Join Laura Piotrowski and Karen Vernal of Cavendish Consulting and Vernal, LLC in an interactive session. Small circle conversations will allow us to share, connect and inspire one another to move forward with intention and attention to what really matters.


  • Laura Piotrowski, CEO, Cavendish Consulting and Vernal LLC
  • Karen Vernal, EVP and Chief Dreamer, Vernal LLC

Building your future: Stories from women turning their dreams into businesses
Building your future: Stories from women turning their dreams into businesses LOCATION: ROOM 2
Women with experience in the corporate, nonprofit and education worlds share their journeys to becoming entrepreneurs. They will discuss what inspired them to pursue their business dreams and share tips for those considering a similar path.


  • Rosario Sánchez-Ledesma, Executive Coach and Consultant, Life Camp, LLC
  • Sheila Shaffie, Co-founder, ProcessArc
  • Tiffany Miller, Co-owner, The Bronzeville Collective
  • Melissa Gaglione, President, Safety4Her

Moderator: Maredithe Meyer, Reporter, BizTimes Media

Developing leaders around you
Your circle of influence is counting on you to replace yourself someday. How will you accomplish this and why is this so important? Crystal Miller of HarmonyWorks will share tips and practical ways to identify, equip, and develop leaders in your organization (and how to have fun doing it!).


  • Crystal Miller, HarmonyWorks

Is mentorship enough? Exploring the differences between mentorship and sponsorship
The benefits of mentorship are well-recognized, but sponsors can have a tremendous impact on a career as well. A sponsor will help you advance while a mentor can provide ideas on how you might advance. Join Phyllis King and a panel of mentors and mentees as they discuss the real-life differences between mentorship and sponsorship.


  • DeVona Wright Cottrell, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, GMR Marketing
  • Isioma Nwabuzor, VP & Associate General Counsel, Robert W. Baird & Co.
  • Greg Larson, President & CEO, AILCO
  • Julia Klimkovich, Finance Director – Operations and Strategy, Sargento Foods Inc.

Moderator: Dr. Phyllis King, Vice Provost, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

How are YOU doing? Hitting the post-pandemic reset
No one has emerged from the past 16 months unscathed. As we face a return to “normal” in and outside of work, the effects of an intensely stressful year linger. This session will address the realities of moving into the post-pandemic era from a mental health, wellness, and HR perspective. It will address the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and where we need to be moving forward.


  • Dr. Tiffany Mullen, CEO & Co-founder, Vytal Health
  • Sarah Hammond, Founder & President, Sarah Hammond Coaching
  • Beth Kavelaris, Director, Culture & Integration, Robert W. Baird & Co.

Moderator: Lauren Anderson, Associate Editor, BizTimes Media

Woman Executive of the Year:

Kathy Koshgarian, President & COO, The Dohmen Company Foundation

Kathy Koshgarian, the president and chief operating officer of the Milwaukee-based Dohmen Company Foundation, will be honored as BizTimes Milwaukee’s 11th Woman Executive of the Year award winner.

Koshgarian joined Dohmen in 2012. During her tenure with the company, she oversaw the launch of Dohmen Life Science Services.

Koshgarian helped facilitate The Dohmen Co.’s 2019 conversion from a six-generation family-owned business into a benefit corporation owned by a private foundation. Under that structure, the company’s profits are donated to the foundation for charitable purposes. Dohmen was only the second organization in the nation to adopt that structure.

Read more.

Event Details

Thursday, August 19, 2021
7:30 – 11:30 AM
Italian Community Center

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Interested in sponsoring an event? To reap the benefits of the ultimate in-person marketing opportunity contact Linda Crawford, Director of Sales, to discuss opportunities. Event sponsorships are limited.