WILMI 2019 in Review: Empowerment, Leadership & Networking

Northstar's Women in Leadership Meetings & Incentives 2020 takes place March 18-20 in Washington, D.C.


Meet Us At WILMI 2020
WILMI 2020 takes place this March in Washington D.C. All top qualified, female buyers will be fully hosted by Northstar Meetings Group, including airfare, accommodations, meals, and planned activities. Register here.

WILMI (Women In Leadership Meetings & Incentives) is Northstar Meetings Group's annual conference exclusively for executive-level women in the industry. During this special event, leading female meetings and incentives buyers and suppliers join together to network, engage in dialogue on present and future challenges and opportunities, and plan and do business together.

WILMI 2020 is taking place March 18-20 at the InterContinental The Willard and Convene in Washington, D.C. And as we gear up for our exclusive event for women, by women, we are taking a look back at some of the highlights from WILMI 2019. 

A group of outstanding achievers headlined Women In Leadership Meetings & Incentives 2019. The gathering, which brought together 35 accomplished female meeting and incentive planners, 39 leading industry suppliers and nearly 100 lively attendees, took place April 26-27, 2019, in Boston.

Nadya Okamoto, author and founder, Period., the Menstrual Movement

2020 Education
This year, Beth Surmont, CMP, CAE, director of experience design for 360 Live Media, will inspire WILMI attendees to kickstart their innovative thinking skills to uncover new strategic potential within their events. Learn more here.

The event kicked off with an inspiring keynote by Nadya Okamoto, just 21 but already an author and the founder of Period. -- the Menstrual Movement, who started the nonprofit to assist homeless women in Portand, Ore., and soon turned it into a feminist platform for gender equality everywhere. Through her efforts, Period. has expanded to 400 chapters around the globe that provide communities with menstrual-oriented services, education and policy guidelines in line with local custom and needs.

During her lively presentation, Okamoto talked about "period poverty," when women can’t afford access to menstruation-related health products to maintain hygiene. "When I was 16, my family experienced losing our home," she recounted, "and during this time, I had many conversations with homeless women and learned about an unaddressed need I had never thought about before.”

Okamoto also delved into the need to remove the stigma of periods from society. "Menstruation is not something shameful and secret," she declared. "It's so natural, but we still don't know how to talk about it out in the open. We must address both period poverty and the stigma to achieve gender equality, first on a global level, but within the business world, as well, since these two problems create barriers to success for women and girls in education, economic mobility, and equal representation in politics and decision-making." 

The Harvard student shared how following her passions and fearlessness led her to run (unsuccessfully) for city council of Cambridge, Mass., and to found JUV consulting, a firm that helps companies understand Generation Z social media marketing trends.

A panel of top meeting and incentive thought leaders shared their insights on how being women affected their careers, importance of women-to-women mentorship and more

A panel of top meeting and incentive thought leaders shared their insights on how being women affected their careers, the importance of women-to-women mentorship and more. Moderated by Loren Edelstein, vice president, content director, Northstar Meeting Group, the panel consisted of:
Jennifer Keltner, owner of Keltner Travel Consultancy;
• Judi McLaughlin, CMP, managing director of HelmsBriscoe;
• Martha Sheridan, president/CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, and
• Laura Reed Yates, principal of Dovetail Event Partners.

McLaughlin, who spoke about three women who mentored her, noted that "not all mentor relationships are formal." Sheraton, in discussing her management style, shared that she informs her employees on the human impact of their efforts, "letting them know they are not just making a sale, but they are supporting hotel jobs in the city."

Lisa Tanzer, president, Life is Good
Lisa Tanzer, president, Life is Good

Final keynoter Lisa Tanzer, president of upbeat apparel/lifestyle brand Life is Good, shared her full-circle journey from marketing executive to becoming a board member of the children’s foundation Project Joy (now the Life is Good Foundation), which led to her becoming president of the $100 million firm started by her two childhood friends.

Tanzer credited her mother with giving her the confidence to go after whatever she wanted in life, whether it be joining a boy’s baseball team or running a major company that promotes the power of optimism. She encouraged audience members to change their “have to do" lists to “get to do" lists to tap into optimism.