Gannon SBDC Gears Up For More WILD Events


Hosted by Gannon University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the annual Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Conference offers an opportunity to empower professional and enterprising women with knowledge, energy and passion. Here, Maggie Horne, Gannon SBDC’s director, shares what’s planned for the 2019 event on May 2 in Erie and the April 4 event in Mercer, Pennsylvania.

The WILD Conference has been a great educational opportunity for women leaders in the tri-state region for 12 years now. What’s planned for the Erie event on May 2?
Our theme for this year is inspiration. The speakers and breakout sessions are designed to inspire conference attendees both personally and professionally. The program for this year’s conference includes Karla Wludyga, opening keynote speaker, four breakout sessions and Donna Reese, closing keynote speaker.

Tell us more about the keynote speaker and what guests can expect to hear.

Both of our keynote speakers are known to the Erie community. Keynote speaker Karla Wludyga, who managed communications for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and was director of Leadership Cleveland, kicks off the program with an inspiring message of growing in leadership and confidence, while keynote speaker, Donna Reese, closes the program with her personal and professional story of finding inspiration within yourself to overcome challenging situations.

What are some highlights of the Erie event, such as the annual Legacy Award winner?
There will be a twist to our Legacy Award tradition this year. It has been decided that we will honor the legacy of longtime SBDC Senior Business Consultant John Snyder, who recently passed away. John worked in the background for 11 years to make sure WILD was a success and we look forward to honoring his legacy.

The Gannon SBDC also will be hosting a WILD Conference in Mercer County. Tell us about the second location and what’s happening.
We kicked off WILD About Mercer last year with great success! This year, the theme is technology and will feature Google speaker Randi Penfil. Programming includes digital marketing tips and techniques and a panel discussion. The event will be held on April 4 at the Park Inn in West Middlesex.

Why do you believe there is such a strong need for women leadership events today?
Women continue to face challenges in reaching their personal and professional goals. We continue to need positive role models, as well as a learning environment that addresses those challenges in a realistic and solution-based approach. With the balance of inspirational speakers and programming, WILD strives to be a part of the solution — and an inspiration to woman leaders.

How can people register or learn more about the WILD events?
Follow us on Facebook @WILDGannonSBDC and @WILDAboutMercer. Registration and information also can be found online at

Is there anything you would like to add?
I’m often asked if there is still a need for an event such as WILD, and I think there is. While women have made great strides in many areas of endeavor, there’s still much progress to be made. That’s where leadership and inspiration come in. With those qualities and with the strength of shared energy, we hope to make a better world.