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Symposium offers professional development for women

STARRING ATTRACTION — U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who will be the headline speaker at a women’s professional-development symposium in DeLand this month, is just the second Vietnamese-American — and the first female of that ethnicity  — to be elected to Congress.

STARRING ATTRACTION — U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who will be the headline speaker at a women’s professional-development symposium in DeLand this month, is just the second Vietnamese-American — and the first female of that ethnicity  — to be elected to Congress.

PHOTO COURTESY STEPHANIE MURPHY

MAKING IT HAPPEN — Dr. Jenneffer Pulapaka, a DeLand podiatrist and restaurateur, founded the organization that is putting on a symposium that will help women grow and enhance their professional and personal lives.

MAKING IT HAPPEN — Dr. Jenneffer Pulapaka, a DeLand podiatrist and restaurateur, founded the organization that is putting on a symposium that will help women grow and enhance their professional and personal lives.

PHOTO COURTESY JENNEFFER PULAPAKA

Women searching for ways to improve their professional aspirations, goals and mission objectives can get a full day’s worth of inspiration at a symposium being held at Stetson University later this month.

A newly formed DeLand-based organization, Women Inspiring Change and Community Development, is staging the Saturday, Sept. 16, educational gathering to help foster better outcomes for women in their professional careers, advocacy work and personal lives, said Dr. Jenneffer Pulapaka, the founder of WICCD.

“Our five counties [Volusia and neighboring counties] have a leadership gap for women; it’s more like a resource desert,” Pulapaka said. “Everybody kept saying, ‘Do something about it,’ so I’m doing something about it. We need to teach valuable skills and lifelong lessons emphasizing that women’s rights are valuable to our society, and women can inspire positive change.”

Pulapaka admitted she hasn’t always been as proactive as she could be in social issues, and she’s hoping this symposium will be a good start.

“I want to get women — especially young women — more involved in government, business and leadership skills, and then build upon that,” she said.

The symposium features a lineup of expert women and men in multiple fields from the Central Florida community who will “address the struggle for equal opportunities in the workplace and equal benefits, women’s reproductive and fertility rights, the urgency to stop all forms of violence against women, and the enhancement of strong relationships,” says a news release.

The speakers will be headlined by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy at 8:15 a.m.

“Stephanie has been a strong advocate for women entrepreneurs and for getting active in the community,” Pulapaka said.

Other speakers scheduled include local attorney Leanna Smith; Stetson women’s basketball coach Lynn Bria; Rajni Gigi Shankar-Brown, an associate professor and chair of Social Justice Education at Stetson and a board member of the National Coalition for the Homeless; Cynthia Ramirez, executive director of FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools; current and former Volusia County Council members Pat Patterson and Pat Northey, respectively; and many others from Tampa to Daytona Beach.

The symposium opens at 7 a.m. Sept. 16 in the Lynn Business Center with a coffee bar and check-in, then speakers starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. General-admission tickets cost just $10, and a bag lunch can be bought at the same time for an additional $20. (Attendees also can bring their own lunch.)

Following the conference, West Indiana Avenue will be the setting for WICCD Table Talk’s Native American Dinner, with a menu “inspired by centuries-old tradition,” according to the news release, and giving attendees an opportunity to spark new ideas and inspirations for the future with each other. The family-style repast is available to attendees and guests, and will feature food from local farmers and Cress Restaurant. Tickets cost $40 apiece.

For more information or to buy tickets, go to www.wiccd.org or call 407-603-1036.

- Joe Crews, joe@beacononlinenews.com

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