Pathways to Success: Own Your Greatness

The annual leadership conference is packed with inspirational speakers and networking opportunities.

by Lindsey Kerr
Pathways to Success Women’s Leadership Conference
Central Illinois NAWBO and Women in Leadership of Central Illinois created the Pathways to Success Women’s Leadership Conference.

For more than 20 years, the Central Illinois National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Women in Leadership of Central Illinois (WIL) have been working together to inspire and motivate women to control their own destiny, lead through adversity, and own their greatness. Together, they have created the annual Pathways to Success Women’s Leadership Conference.

“Beginning in 1999, our Peoria-based organizations united to provide this annual leadership conference,” explains Yvonne Long, event co-chair. “While we missed a few years in the 2010s, the two groups reunited in 2017 to bring this conference back better than ever.”

All-Day Opportunities

Centered around the theme of “Own Your Greatness,” this year’s event is packed with inspirational speakers and networking opportunities for women throughout central Illinois and beyond. A premier hybrid conference platform will be used that respects personal preferences for social distancing, while also providing for unique engagement across both in-person or virtual options—including speed networking, shopping with vendors, and exploring sponsor and speaker details.

In-person attendees can participate in the virtual conference elements, and virtual attendees can connect with both in-person and other virtual attendees. This will ensure access for women not just from the Peoria region, but far beyond as well.

Tinesha Cherry
Nationally recognized speaker, author and leadership trainer Tinesha Cherry

The 2021 conference will feature nationally recognized speaker, author and leadership trainer Tinesha Cherry as the keynote speaker. Having experienced extreme adversity as a child, Cherry has firsthand knowledge of the power of resilience, the impact of optimism, and the outcome of perseverance. As the founder of Project D.R.E.A.M. and She Strong International, she is the recipient of numerous awards for her accomplishments, and her work has been featured in national publications. She is a dynamic speaker, full of energy, passion and enthusiasm!

“This all-day conference includes breakout sessions that are designed to cultivate ideas, discuss obstacles and find solutions to your leadership challenges,” adds Jessica Ford, event co-chair. “Women will enjoy networking while they shop our large selection of vendors. This event will help them meet other female leaders, grow their network, and expand their career and business.”

Local breakout speakers will allow women to learn from their peers, while giving them a local stage upon which to share their leadership wisdom. The day will start with an early-bird session featuring Mary Ardapple Dierker on “The Art of Breath.” She will teach breathing techniques that are proven to reduce anxiety, increase oxygenation and improve sleep.

During the event, attendees will have the choice between three breakout speakers:

  • Becky Mills will “Kick It Up a Notch” with her session that looks at five areas to build strong muscles as we navigate the “new norm.”
  • Odille Remmert will help participants “Find Your Roar.” She will address the real cause of the limiting beliefs that hold us back from taking the action that will lead to success, and the step-by-step process of changing them—quickly, authentically and powerfully.
  • Kathryn Spitznagle will provide “3 Simple Tools that Help Others Hone Their Leadership Skills,” sharing lessons learned and practical tools you can begin using today with your teams. She believes that owning your greatness is really about enabling others to own theirs.

Inspiration and Support

The Pathways to Success Conference takes place Thursday, September 16, 2021 at the Par-A-Dice Hotel in East Peoria. Registration begins at 7:30am. Tickets start at $70/person and include breakout sessions, lunch, keynote address, networking opportunities, and post-event access to session recordings. Exhibits and a silent auction will be available between sessions.

“Sponsorship of this event is a great way to support the leadership development of hundreds of women, and promote your business to potential customers,” Long adds. “We expect well over 200 attendees at this year’s event, between in-person and virtual attendees, so this is also a great opportunity for businesses to be an exhibitor.”

“If there is one conference to attend this year, it is Pathways to Success,” says Pat Drake, NAWBO member and owner of Fidelity on Call. “The caliber of speakers, networking opportunities and inspirational women is something you won’t find anywhere else.” PM

To register, become a sponsor or sign up as an exhibitor, visit

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