2019 Women in Business Conference: Embracing Change

Join us for our annual half-day Women in Business conference held in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business. This event is geared toward visionary men and women who want to discover the tools for success, make strategic business connections and leave feeling empowered and inspired to take action.

Thursday, April 4  |  8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  |  Country Club of Lincoln 

  • Individual Tickets (members only) - $65 
  • Corporate Sponsor (Table of 10) - $2,000
  • Lunch Sponsor (Half table – 5 seats) - $1,000

8:30 a.m.Registration and Breakfast
9 a.m.Welcome–Wendy Birdsall and Dean Kathy Farrell
9:10 a.m.Leading Through Change Panel
  • Dr. Kathy Farrell, Dean of the College of Business
  • Ava Thomas, Lincoln Journal Star
  • Christie Hinrichs, Tabitha

Leading through change can seem impossible, but as a leader, directing confidently in front of your team is critical to maintaining a trusting relationships. Learn from community leaders on how they navigated change in their own organizations and gain insight on how to not let the uncertainty overwhelm you and your team.

10:20 a.m.Break and Networking
10:40 a.m.

Communicating Through Change - Sheri Irwin-Gish, Executive Director Communications, Marketing and External Relations, University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business

Change is coming – now what? Communicating impending change can be one of the most challenging, yet important parts of any shift in an organization. This interactive session will challenge you to work through various scenarios to better understand how to send clear, effective messages to avoid confusion, while also giving examples on ways to communicate these messages to your organization and beyond.    

11:50Break and Networking
12:10 p.m. 

Lunch and Keynote – The Reason for Change, Dr. Donde Plowman, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Too often, the word change is associated with negativity and fear. However, in an every evolving world, change is not only necessary but good. Good for organizations who are being pushed now more than ever to innovate and constantly ask the question, “what’s next?”. Hear why change may not be a negative threat but rather an exciting opportunity to push boundaries and encourage growth.

12:50 p.m.

Closing Comments – Wendy Birdsall and Kathy Farrell

Keynote Speaker

Donde Plowman, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, leads and oversees the university’s academic enterprise, research initiatives, student affairs division, and new office of diversity and inclusion. This position reports directly to the chancellor, and is the responsible authority in the absence of the chancellor. Reporting to this position are 11 deans, three vice chancellors, a team of associate and assistant vice chancellors, and other unit directors. In 2015, Plowman received the “Inspire Woman of the Year Award,” given by the Lincoln Journal Star. She has twice been named one of the 30 Most Influential Women in Lincoln and in 2016 received the Noddle Distinguished Development Service Award from the Nebraska University Board of Trustees in recognition of her fundraising efforts as Dean of the College of Business.

2019 Panel Speakers

Dr. Kathy Farrell - Dean of the College of Business 

Dr. Kathy Farrell became the James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business on December 1, 2017. Farrell served nearly one year as interim dean of the College of Business at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln before becoming the permanent dean. An experienced academic and business leader, Farrell served as associate dean for four years before becoming the chair of the Department of Finance in 2014. She is also the State Farm Professor of Finance and has more than 20 years of experience teaching university courses in banking and finance. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in finance from the University of Georgia, Farrell was an auditor for KPMG Peat Marwick in Baltimore and Atlanta and earned the designation of Certified Public Accountant (inactive). She received her bachelor's degree from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. She also serves on the board of directors of Nelnet, Inc., a NYSE company headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Assurity, Inc., a mutual insurance company headquartered in Lincoln.

Ava Thomas - President & Publisher, Lincoln Journal Star

Ava Thomas joined the Lincoln Journal Star in 1995 as a classified sales consultant. She advanced through various positions including retail sales consultant, online sales manager, advertising manager and general manager before being named President and Publisher in 2014.   She also oversees the Beatrice Daily Sun, the Columbus Telegram and the Fremont Tribune, and weeklies including the Plattsmouth Journal, David City Banner Press and Schuyler Sun in Nebraska.  In 2016, Thomas was named senior sales executive with oversight of automotive revenue for parent company, Lee Enterprises. Thomas added oversight of seven national Agri-Media publications in 2018.  Thomas majored in criminal justice and pre-law at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her community activities include:  executive board member of Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, Lincoln Community Foundation and United Way. She is a founding member of 100’s of Women Who Care Lincoln and Inspire Women’s Leadership program, as well as an advisory board member of the RISE prison re-entry program.

Christie Hinrichs – President and CEO, Tabitha 

Christie Hinrichs has served as president and CEO of Tabitha, a nonprofit, mission-centered provider of health care services for older adults, headquartered in Lincoln and serving 28 Nebraska counties since 2010. With 1,000 TEAMembers, 1,200 active volunteers and countless faithful donors, Tabitha serves more than 2,000 seniors and their families every single day. She began her career in compassion in 1993 as a Tabitha Hospice social worker and later served as the Nebraska Heart Hospital’s chief operating officer and branch manager with Coram Healthcare. She served on Tabitha’s corporate board of directors from November 2004 through May 2006 and returned to Tabitha the same year as vice president of clinical services. In 2018, Hinrichs received her master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University with an emphasis in servant leadership. She serves on the LeadingAge national board as treasurer, was elected to the board of directors of Pinnacle Bancorp, Inc. and was handpicked to co-chair the Blueprint Nebraska Health Care Industry Council focused on statewide economic development.

Sheri Irwin-Gish - Executive Director of Communications, Marketing and External Relations at College of Business

Sheri believes in the power of communicating effectively and utilizes her skills to advance the college. In 2013, she helped launch its Start Something brand. The success of that effort led to building a Communications, Marketing and External Relations team at the college to assist with recruitment marketing, increasing rankings, and engaging alumni and the business community. Then came the ultimate challenge – helping communicate the need for a new $84 million, 240,000 square-foot College of Business building. Fully funded by private donations, it opened in the fall of 2017. Other college highlights include moving from #72 to the current #44 in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of undergraduate business programs, a 58 percent enrollment increase in first-year freshmen in five years, and greatly expanding alumni and community engagement. Currently, she co-chairs the international Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Marketing and Communications Council Affinity Group and serves on the RISE Lincoln Board of Directors. In 2016, she earned the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education Distinguished Service Award, and in 2015, she received the College of Business Distinguished Service Award.

Aakriti Agrawal - Brasch Group 

Aakriti came to Nebraska to study actuarial science in 2012. Originally from Pune, India, she grew up between India and Singapore. She became an advocate for the UNL international student population and used her knack for networking to connect with the community at large. After graduation, she began working at Brasch Group in data analytics for the healthcare industry and taught herself to code. An avid supporter of education for underrepresented populations, Aakriti co-founded Girls Code Lincoln, a local nonprofit that teaches middle school girls to computer program. She also recently presented at University of Nebraska Omaha's TEDx conference, speaking on closing the gender gap in technology. She has worked at Brasch Group now for almost three years, and is always looking for opportunities to better her alma mater, the community and the state that she’s grown to love.