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Women’s Leadership Conference: Spring 2022

March 30th, 2022 | 8 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.

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  |  Keynotes and Panel  | Speakers |  Dorothy J. Payne  |  Past Conferences  |  Sponsors

“When your life is on course with its purpose, you are your most powerful. And you may stumble, but you will not fall.”  -Oprah Winfrey

The 2022 Women’s Leadership Conference is a networking event designed to foster the discovery of purpose and inspire professional growth. The conference features keynote presentations and a panel discussion from a diverse set of experienced professionals who have built businesses, launched non-profits, and established work-life balances for their young families.

At the conference, you will have opportunities to make new connections and have meaningful conversations with our presenters and attendees. You will leave the conference with valuable information to help you open your own business, pivot your career in a different direction, or open your mind to new professional achievements. 

As part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, the 2022 conference will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at the Roaden University Center on the campus of Tennessee Tech University.  

When registering for the conference you are not only making an investment in yourself, you are investing in the lives of two students who will receive the opportunity to attend the conference completely free of charge. This year your registration will also include a complimentary book from our speaker line-up: Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method® Transforms Your Career and Life by Amy Vetter.

Business, Balance, and Bliss

Register for the conference by clicking the yellow register bar below. Alumni tickets are $75, non-alumni tickets are $85, and student tickets are $10. If your organization is interested in becoming a conference sponsor please contact Cheryl Montgomery at or 931-267-1099.


2022 marks the fourth year we have hosted the Women’s Leadership Conference. Past attendees have heard Dean Tom Payne talk about the inspiration for holding the conference, his mother Dorothy. To read her inspirational story and to catch a few photos from our 2019 conference scroll to the bottom of the page.

Keynotes and Panel

Morning keynote Cigi England, The Power of Inclusion:  The Story of an Entrepreneur’s Journey to Change Her World

Panel discussion moderated by Amy New, panelists: Matt Largen, Kara Gee, and Angela Bruce, The Emerging Workforce and Workplace: Who Is Hiring Now and Other Trends of a Post-Pandemic Office

Afternoon keynote Amy Vetter, Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life

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Our Speakers

Cigi EnglandCigi England

Entrepreneur Cigi England knows how to pivot and harness her energy to create a better world for herself and for the marginalized among us. She also knows communities prosper when everyone feels like they belong and have opportunities to shape their futures. Hearing Cigi tell the story of her professional journey from fashion buyer to boutique owner, from dreamer to non-profit founder of the Exceptional Bean you will be inspired to create your own change and take the next steps necessary open your dream business or create a non-profit to enhance your community.

The Emerging Workforce and Workplace: Who Is Hiring Now and Other Trends of a Post-Pandemic Office

Grab a glimpse of your future during this panel discussion as Cookeville’s own Amy New leads our panel of experts in a conversation about the diverse companies taking up residence in Tennessee. Hear about the job opportunities awaiting you, the workplaces created for you, and the work-cultures emerging in our post-pandemic world. 

Amy New Headshot

Moderator: Amy New

Amy New was named president and CEO of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce in March 2020 following a 10-year stint in governmental affairs as well as work in rural, economic and community development. In accepting the position, she became CEO and President of six organizations housed within the Chamber of Commerce including the Highlands Economic Partnership, the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, the Public Building Authority, Leadership Putnam, the Leslie Town Centre, and the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

In her most recent employment preceding her chamber work, Amy served as the Government and Community Affairs Director of Programs for the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 


Matt Largen

Matt Largen Headshot

Kara Gee

Kara Gee

Angela Bruce

Angela Bruce Headshot

Amy Vetter HeadshotAmy Vetter

Do you find that your work and daily life can become mechanical or routine? In this session you will uncover how to either rekindle or discover the spark you desire in your career and life. Based on Amy Vetter’s book, Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life, you will learn valuable insights and tips, backed by scientific research, on how to align your authentic self with the work you do. Expect to come away with the tools and inspiration to: create your own sense of work-life harmony, uncover your inner talents and passions, learn to be more present and productive at work and home, and gain an understanding of how to develop the technology practices (and boundaries) to put in place to lead a more mindful, connected and fulfilled life.

The Inspiration Behind the Conference: Dorothy J. Payne


Dorothy PayneDorothy J. Payne
Arkansas Tech University, BS
Pepperdine University, MBA

As a single head of house-hold with sole financial responsibilities, I maintained a life-long desire for learning.  Education is the key to professional advancement and personal growth. — Dorothy Jean Payne


Dorothy Payne began her professional career as a school teacher after going back to college in her 20’s with two young children.  She recalls that “we had just returned from Italy where my husband was stationed with the Army.  The kids and I moved to a one-bedroom campus apartment while he was in Vietnam.  I arranged classes around my children’s school schedules and did my homework after putting them to bed.”  After completing her undergraduate degree, Payne did some of her practice teaching at Tucker Prison as part of the reform movement later made famous by the movie “Brubaker” starring Robert Redford.  After teaching for a short time in the public school system and following her divorce, Payne went to work for the State of Arkansas as a health facility inspector.  The job involved auditing nursing homes, hospitals, and other organizations to assure compliance with civil rights laws and ensure that minority citizens had access to healthcare.  She later worked in child support enforcement for the state. “The work was not easy and the new laws and regulations were openly resisted; however, I always found the courage to do the work,” said Payne. 

During the late 70’s, Payne and her two children moved to Dallas, Texas where she worked in human resources training for two corporations.  During that time, she earned her MBA from Pepperdine University as part of a new executive program.  She was the only woman in her MBA cohort.  Payne recalls that “those days were filled with opportunity, challenge, and change for women in the professional workforce.”  After raising her family, she returned to Little Rock and another position with the state during the Clinton Administration. Dr. Payne and his mother, Dorothy Payne She ended her career with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare where she developed and delivered drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs. 

Payne is grateful for the opportunities she has had and the meaningful work she has been able to do. When asked whether she had any words of wisdom for today’s working women, she said “to remember that your greatest power is the power to choose your own path.”  She also encouraged women to “be thankful for their blessings and seek opportunities to love and support people with special needs.”  Today, Dorothy enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren who live in Nashville and visiting with her son Tom and daughter-in-law Amy who live just two miles away in Cookeville.


Past Conferences


Sponsored By

womens center business seal multi

Cigi's BoutiqueThe Exceptional Bean

Smith Gee Studio    NTT Data

US BankStone Creative


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