11th Annual WILD


The increase of women in the paid workforce has been one of the most significant changes in the economy in the past century. In the United States, according to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, women’s participation in the labor market has nearly doubled, from 34 percent of working age women (age 16 and older) in the labor force in 1950 to almost 57 percent in 2016.

In fact, in the United States, research shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform competition. Growth in women-owned businesses has outpaced the overall increase in new businesses by 1.5 times. According to recent statistics, the share of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies topped 5 percent for the first time in the first quarter of 2017, with 27 women heading major firms. General Motors, headed by Mary Barra, is the largest U.S. company with a female chief executive. Barra is the first female leader of an automaker in the world.

And, with the right leadership and development opportunities, such as the Gannon University SBDC’s Women in Leadership Development program, the potential for more women leaders will continue to grow.

For the past 11 years, the WILD program has been helping to empower professional and enterprising women with the knowledge, energy and passion that will help them attain and enhance their leadership goals.

“It is a celebration that recognizes, supports and promotes women in business through women helping women,” states Gannon SBDC Director Maggie Horne, MBA, CVA. “WILD is an opportunity to network, provide leadership opportunities and
show support for each other.”

This year, the WILD is getting a makeover of sorts in an attempt to provide more focused programing for its attendees. “It’s a new beginning of WILD,” explains Horne. “Although we are still keeping many of the core elements, we’re approaching it a bit differently based on the feedback we’ve gotten over the past two years, so that people will be able to take advantage of all of our educational sessions.”

The 2018 event, which kicks off at 11 a.m. April 18 at the Ambassador Banquet and Conference Center in Erie, will feature keynote speaker and former Pittsburgh TV personality Darieth Chisolm sharing her personal and professional journey.

“She is a fantastic speaker to talk about her career experience in communications and the personal obstacles she has had to face in terms of cyber harassment,” says Horne. “She has a powerful story to share that so many women can relate to. We are thrilled to share that story of empowerment at this year’s WILD.” Chisolm’s presentation will be followed by lunch and the annual Legacy Award presentation, then a 1 p.m. panel discussion on workforce harassment.

“Workforce harassment can be between all genders, all races, all situations that make people uncomfortable,” explains Horne. “With the national recognition focused on the sexual harassment in the workforce, we’re taking it to include all of the issues of workforce harassment and how we, as women leaders, can be at the forefront of making a difference at all levels, not just what’s been in the news.”

Instead of breakout sessions, the new WILD format includes three separate forums, running from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gannon SBDC, 900 State Street. The sessions are WILD About Marketing – How to reach your best customers on May 16; WILD About Finance – How to get more out of your money on September 18, and WILD About Global – How to access a world of customers on November 16 and include both a continental breakfast and lunch.

WILD attendees can attend the April 18 kickoff luncheon for $50 per person, $35 per each forum, or attend all four events for $100. “Their best bet is to commit to the four so they can really get all that WILD has to offer,” states Horne. “There are more ways to go WILD than ever before!”

For more information or to register, visit