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'Work It' empowers
Conference helps local women entering workforce
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Participants of the 'Work It' conference, hosted by the inaugural class of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation Leadership Academy, attended sessions on entering or re-entering the workforce that included hair and make-up tips. - photo by JULIE LAVENDER/Special

               The inaugural class of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation Leadership Academy recently hosted a one-day conference, ‘Work It,' dedicated to empowering women through personal and professional development. The conference targeted women in the community who want to enter or re-enter the work place without the resources to do so.
        The event took place on the campus of Ogeechee Technical College. More than 20 women took part in sessions that focused on the development of skills related to job acquisition, including resume building, interviewing techniques, professional etiquette, communication and personal branding.
        Additionally, participants received tips on makeup and hair styles appropriate for interviewing and had the opportunity to browse a "clothing closet" to choose and take home several pieces of professional clothing to wear during the search for employment.
        The Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation was established in August 2014. The Foundation's namesake, Lynda Brannen Williamson, for more than 30 years, served as an example of selfless service, devotion to family, her church and her community and broke professional barriers for women with respect, honor and humility.
        Williamson was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and bravely fought the disease until her passing in November 2014.
        The inaugural class of the Leadership Academy developed the Work It concept to execute a service project that would support the mission of the Foundation and, ultimately, pay it forward.
        In a quote on the Foundation website page, Williamson said, "I think it is so important to give young women guidance, mentorship, and a path by which to maximize their potential for all of the right reasons, in all of the right ways."
        Mayor Jan Moore, Ogeechee Tech vice president of Economic Development, welcomed attendees and keynoted the event.
        "Everybody in this room has potential and worth," Moore said. "Decide what you want to accomplish; take one small and defined step every single day towards that goal; ask for advice from those folks who are worthy to give it; never compare yourself to others - your journey is unique to you; learn to trust others and learn to trust that encouraging and helping others will help you, and celebrate the inches and don't worry about the yards."
        America Minc, Work It chair, said the project was especially meaningful to the inaugural class because it was exactly what Williamson was passionate about: Serving others and empowering women.
        "Lynda was a trailblazer and selfless servant to our community, and it was important to us that we chose something that she would be proud of and would honor her legacy," Minc said. "We wanted a tangible way to help women who were interested in re-entering the workforce, continuing their education or furthering their career.
        "Our goal is to position these women to begin to take their next steps, whether that is to get their first job, re-enter the workforce, ask for that promotion or continue their education. The outcomes will serve to support not only these women, but their families and ultimately, our community."
        Though women's names couldn't be shared, participants had this to say when asked what one thing they would take away from the conference:
        "More confidence."
        "That there is hope in getting somewhere if you put in the work."
        "Knowing that it is never too late to improve myself, my community and everything around me."
        "That I can be a confident woman and go to school and start a career."
        Also, the Leadership Academy inaugural class hosted a clothing drive prior to the event in order to provide professional and business casual items for the women to choose for interviews and work attire.
        Minc said, "Lynda's family generously donated her clothes to this project, as well, so to have a piece of Lynda's spirit that will go with our participants made it very special."
        Also contributing to the clothing closet were the Professional Women of Statesboro, the Statesboro Service League, 180 Fitness members and other individuals.
        Title sponsors for the event were "Be a Hero - Hire a Hero," Jeff Klare, CEO, and Southern Chiropractic, owned by Dr. Amy Kitching.

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