Q&A with Angela Kisskeys, President of Associations North: SheMoves Conference

By Association Adviser staff • May 13, 2024

How did the SheMoves conference foster a sense of community and empowerment among its participants?

SheMoves is about making waves creating change and harnessing the power within all. This event is where business meets brilliance.

With a commitment to unleashing the potential within every female, SheMoves proved to be a dynamic and empowering event that resonated with participants and made a lasting impact. In working with Avi Olitzky, Olitzky Consulting Group it was through a member pulse we found an impressive 74 percent of respondents identified as female, highlighting the need for a dedicated platform to empower and elevate women within the association community. SheMoves emerged as the answer, offering a carefully crafted experience designed to foster growth, collaboration and excellence.

SheMoves brought together a diverse community of associations, creating a powerhouse of professionals making waves in their respective fields. More than just an event, SheMoves is a movement dedicated to advancing the female community, fostering a support system that propels each member to new heights.

SheMoves kicked off with a powerful community moment, encouraging attendees to contribute to Dress for Success, an organization dedicated to empowering women through employment. Donations of new or slightly used business appropriate clothing and accessories poured in, showcasing the compassion and generosity of the SheMoves community.

The SheOwns Market was a resounding success, selling out quickly and providing a vibrant space for women-owned businesses to showcase their products and services. This unique marketplace not only celebrated entrepreneurship, but it also offered a platform for networking and flourishing within a supportive community environment. Associations North thoughtfully included the “Little Leaders of the Future” by inviting Girl Scouts of America to show their entrepreneurial spirit and make a full circle moment of helping tomorrow’s leaders, today.

Associations North introduced the EmpowerHer Book Club, an initiative aimed at helping professionals unlock their power within, elevate confidence and achieve their full potential. This book club is set to foster community, development and the continuous advancement of women through lifelong learning.

“In the Upper Midwest, where Associations North builds community, nearly three-quarters of the people that move the association profession forward are women,” noted Associations North chair Matt Gruhn. “And it was those women, led by AN’s incredible staff, that brought this amazing event to life. It was inspiring. It was empowering. And there’s already talk about how SheMoves can deliver even more for this community in the year ahead.”– Matt Gruhn, President, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, 2024 Chair, Associations North

When we asked participants how SheMoves made you feel, they answers Empowered, Connected and Inspired. Now that is community! Formally, SheMoves is a platform for women in the association industry to come together, share experiences, and build networks. Participants were able to connect with like-minded individuals, exchange ideas, and form supportive relationships, thus creating a sense of belonging. Additionally, the conference featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops led by successful women leaders, which served as sources of inspiration and empowerment for attendees.

What were some of the key themes or topics discussed at SheMoves that resonated most with attendees?

In addition to intentionally creating community, thought leaders were carefully selected to encourage attendees to be their authentic selves and thrive together.

Some of the key themes or topics discussed at SheMoves were designed to provide strategies on leadership, career development, and personal empowerment, featuring:

Infinite Insights: Women Leading Associations, Navigating the path to authentic leadership, Association business trends impacting women, Current and anticipated challenges facing leaders of associations, How to build high performing teams, Network vs influence, Personal branding opportunities + challenges, Finding your audacity and Tools to show up imposter syndrome free.

These themes addressed the pressing issues and challenges faced by women in the association industry, sparking meaningful conversations and insights among participants. By delving into these topics, SheMoves provided a platform for attendees to gain valuable knowledge, skills, and perspectives essential for personal and professional growth.

“I’m absolutely captivated with how SheMoves rocked the house! It was more than just an event; it sparked inspiration and empowerment across women in the association community. This inaugural gathering marks the beginning of our collective journey to harness our potential, dismantle barriers, and advance our shared success, leaving a lasting imprint on the vibrant landscape of our association industry.” –  Christi Kokaisel, Senior Director, Membership, American Academy of Neurology, Chair-Elect, Associations North

How does Associations North plan to build upon the success of SheMoves in future events and initiatives aimed at supporting women in the association space?

Associations North is a data-driven organization, so incorporating feedback and results for conference participants – we plan to expand the scope and reach of programing and continue to foster ongoing engagement and collaboration. We are never one to shy away from innovation, creativity and big dreams! Following survey results SheMoves made attendees feel: Empowered, Connected, Inspired, 100% rated the conference good or excellent and 97% said they will definitely attend in 2025. That is inspiration to keep elevating SheMoves and creating a community within.

The beauty in SheMoves is our future is bright and we are looking at hosting follow-up workshops, webinars, or networking events throughout the year to sustain the momentum generated by the conference. Additionally, Associations North is looking at partnerships with other organizations or institutions to amplify efforts and reach a broader audience. By continually iterating and innovating, we can ensure that our initiatives remain relevant, impactful, and responsive to the evolving needs of women in the association industry.

What specific initiatives or programs do you believe should be implemented to empower and elevate women within its association community?

Being only year one of SheMoves, we are already diving into what we believe can help empower and elevate women. A few ideas are:

  • Mentorship programs pairing experienced women leaders with emerging professionals to provide guidance, support, and career advice.
  • Leadership development initiatives offering training, workshops, and resources focused on building essential skills for women to thrive in leadership roles.
  • Networking opportunities facilitating connections and collaborations among women in the association space, such as meetups, coffees, and interactive activities and more.
  • Recognition programs celebrating the achievements and contributions of women leaders within the association community, thereby raising visibility and inspiring others.

Looking ahead, what do you believe an association’s goals and strategies should be for continuing to empower and elevate women in the future?

“SheMoves 2024 exceeded our expectations in creating a dynamic and inclusive space for women within Midwest associations to personally grow and professionally gain. The overwhelming support and participation from the community solidified SheMoves as a transformative force, inspiring women to make a lasting impact on their industries and communities.”– Angela Kisskeys, President, Associations North

Associations North is about Moving Professionals Forward and advancing the association profession. Within this community, we can empower and elevate women through a variety of means:

  1. Leadership Opportunities: Providing opportunities for women to take on leadership roles within the association, such as serving on the board of directors, leading committees, or organizing events. This helps women develop leadership skills, gain visibility, and influence decision-making processes.
  2. Professional Development: Offering workshops, seminars, and training programs focused on developing skills relevant to women’s career advancement, such as negotiation, public speaking, and strategic planning. Providing access to educational resources and certifications can also enhance women’s professional growth.
  3. Recognition and Visibility: Recognizing and celebrating the achievements and contributions of women within the association and beyond. This could include awards, honors, and public recognition for women who have made significant contributions to their profession or community.
  4. Creating a Supportive Environment: Fostering a supportive and inclusive environment where women feel valued, respected, and empowered to succeed.