Women’s Leadership Conference: Spring 2022
March 30th, 2022 | 8 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.
Register Now | 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
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.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Afternoon keynote Amy Vetter, Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life
For conference updates, follow the College of Business on Social Media!
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.
- » More on Cigi England
Cigi England graduated from Tennessee Technological University in 2006. After spending
eight years in the fashion industry in Atlanta, she decided to move back to Cookeville
to be closer to family and friends. With the support of her amazing friends and this
wonderful community, Cigi’s Boutique was created. Cigi just celebrated seven years
Cigi and her husband Michael are involved with local organizations that work with
individuals with special needs. Cigi has served on the board at Rising Above Ministries
for three years. After spending time with their friends that have disabilities, they
thought it would be awesome to create a place of their very own. How wonderful it
would be to work, play, and cultivate a community together!
Cigi and Michael prayed very specifically about their vision to create The Exceptional
Bean & shared it with a small group of individuals in Cookeville. From there it was
full steam ahead. The Exceptional Bean is set to open Spring 2022.
The Emerging Workforce and Workplace: Who Is Hiring Now and Other Trends of a Post-Pandemic
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.
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.
- » More on Amy New
In her two years at VUMC, Amy served as the local and state liaison for the VUMC adult
hospital, Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Psychiatric
Hospital, Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital, Vanderbilt Wilson County
Hospital and the 150+ service locations within the Vanderbilt Medical Group network.
Her work spanned from serving as the community liaison of the organization to managing
VUMC’s chamber memberships as well as serving as one of the three registered lobbyists
on behalf of the hospital system to the Tennessee General Assembly. She was also charged
with developing and overseeing community engagement plans in relation to acquisitions
and new locations within the VUMC system.
Amy also served as the first-ever Rural and Community Development Assistant Commissioner
for the State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, serving
within Governor Bill Haslam’s administration. During her appointment, TNECD launched
an $8 million Rural Development Fund and passed the Rural Economic Opportunity (REO)
Act of 2016 adding an additional $45 million in program funds since creation and restructured
the job tax credit to be more accessible for small businesses. The fund has produced
more than $500 million in programs and projects to date. She also spearheaded a statewide
task force addressing rural development needs. The Governor's Rural Task Force brought
together 21 local, state and federal partners to identify, design and implement more
than 20 programs and initiatives that led to a $65 million infusion in Rural Tennessee.
In addition to the REO Act, Amy led the passage of the Broadband Accessibility Act
which included the deregulation for eligible providers and added a grant program totaling
more than $30 million in infrastructure expansion. She oversaw more than $400 million
in state and federally funded projects to enhance economic and community development
throughout the state.
Prior to her appointment, Amy served as the state’s ThreeStar community development
director, where she worked to restructure and expand Tennessee’s economic development
efforts targeting a community asset-based planning approach. This approach worked
in tandem with a grant program to support local initiatives around education, workforce
development, safety, health and fiscal responsibility.
Before moving to Nashville in 2010, Amy served as account executive for MMA Creative
Marketing Firm developing business plans, brands, and social media efforts. She also
worked in local print with the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and was the Business
Profiles Host for PBS’s WCTE.
A native of Monterey, TN, Amy was raised on a tobacco, cattle and hog farm and comes
from a family dedicated to public service. She is a graduate of Tennessee Tech University
where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration while working
in various local government and chamber of commerce roles in her home county of Putnam.
She was in the inaugural graduating class of Tennessee Certified Economic Developers
through the University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services. She is currently
pursuing her masters in Leadership and Public Policy through Lipscomb University as
the first-ever Haslam Scholar.
Amy is actively involved in the state as a member of Tennessee Rural Health Association
Policy Advisors Council, The University of Tennessee’s Certified Economic Developer
Advisory Board, the Tennessee Lobbying Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
(M.A.D.D.) Executive Board, Upper Cumberland Habitat for Humanity, Leadership Tennessee,
and various other non-profit committees.
Amy resides in Cookeville, Tennessee with her husband Jake and daughters Lily Kate
- » More on Matt Largen
As the President and CEO of Williamson, Inc., Matt Largen leads the Williamson County
Office of Economic Development, the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce and its
foundation to develop leaders, advocate for a thriving business environment, and grow
the Williamson County economy in a strategic way.
Matt enjoys creating partnerships to meet the economic needs of Williamson County,
like developing the new Center for Innovation, in partnership with the Heritage Foundation
of Williamson County, to meet and serve entrepreneurs.
Economic opportunity changes lives. Opportunity is created through business recruitment
of companies like Mitsubishi Motors and business retention and expansion of existing
companies like the new headquarter campus of Mars Petcare. Matt is passionate about
the profession of economic development and appreciates the role it plays in helping
- » More on Kara Gee
Kara Babin Gee heads the Corporate Interiors team at Smith Gee Studio, a fifty-person,
full-service architecture, interiors and planning firm in Nashville, Tennessee. Her
twenty-eight-year career has focused almost exclusively on office and other commercial
interior projects, and has included such work as the Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville's
Riverfront Park, multiple buildings at the Werthan Warehouse property in the Germantown
neighborhood, and the interior fit-out of amenities and multiple tenants at the historic
Cummins Station building including Gibson Guitar's new headquarters.
Ms. Gee is an active member of the Urban Land Institute, where she currently serves
on the Women's Leadership Initiative. She has participated in many community projects
with the Civic Design Center, the Arts Commission, and the American Institute of Architects
- most notably working to help her East Nashville neighborhood with the design and
economic recovery from the tornado disaster of 1998.
- » More on Angela Bruce
Angela joined TUTCO in April of 2003 and currently holds the position of HR Director
for the following facilities: TUTCO, Farnam and SureHeat. She also provides HR support
for China and Mexico manufacturing facilities. Angela recently took an additional
role as Flex-Tek’s Group Talent and Early Career Development Representative. She currently
resides in Baxter, Tennessee. Prior to joining TUTCO she was employed with John Deere
for three years serving as their HR Representative. During her tenure at TUTCO, Angela
has focused her attention on employee engagement and development and most recently
has focused on wellness initiatives.
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.
- » More on Amy Vetter
Amy Vetter, CPA.CITP, CGMA, is the CEO of The B3 Method Institute and Drishtiq Yoga,
a keynote speaker, corporate advisor, board member, author, and host of the podcast,
Breaking Beliefs. As a CPA and Yogi - who specializes in Technology Innovation – Amy
provides a unique perspective. She inspires financial professionals to implement and
use technology in a thoughtful way so that it does the heavy lifting, freeing them
to develop collaborative, lasting relationships.
Amy’s speaking programs encompass transformative topics on digital transformation,
mindfulness, leadership, employee engagement, company culture, as well as change management
and innovation. She is the author of two books: Integrative Advisory Services: Expanding Your Accounting Services Beyond the Cloud, published by Wiley, and Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life.
Amy is a board member for the Ohio Society of CPAs as well as a member of multiple
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) committees. Amy has been
repeatedly recognized as a “Most Powerful Women in Accounting” by the AICPA and CPA
Practice Advisor, and as a “Top 100 Most Influential Person” by Accounting Today.
Amy shares her accounting and business insights as a contributor to AICPA’s Journal
of Accountancy, Accounting Today, and CPA Practice Advisor. Learn more at www.amyvetter.com, and subscribe to Amy’s Breaking Beliefs Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. For
daily inspiration, follow @AmyVetterCPA on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Inspiration Behind the Conference: Dorothy J. Payne
Dorothy 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. 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