By Dulcy B. Hooper Photos by Robert Merhaut

Lansdowne Resort and Spa was the place to be for nearly 600 women (and a smattering of brave men) Friday, Dec. 2. The sold-out event included women representing diverse industries ranging from marketing, retail and finance to philanthropy, education and the media. Along with numerous CEOs and executives leading already-established local businesses, attendees also included many potential business owners, entrepreneurs and those seeking to just learn and make a positive change in their lives.

The mission of the conference was to “harness the intellect, power and influence of attendees, speakers and panelists to support and empower women business owners all over the Northern Virginia area,” and the event’s theme was “Spend today focused on your most important asset: You!”

The opening session featured Dorri Scott, publisher of VA Woman Magazine Group, who served as master of ceremonies in a conversation with Tina R. Johnson, president and CEO of JP Events & Consulting, founder of the Virginia Women’s Business Conference, and 2017 chairwoman of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.

“It gives me great pride to see so many people invest in themselves for a day of personal growth and change,” said Johnson.

Dorri Scott of VA Woman Magazine Group in a conversation with Tina R. Johnson, president and CEO of JP Events & Consulting.

Dorri Scott of VA Woman Magazine Group in a conversation with Tina R. Johnson, president and CEO of JP Events & Consulting.

“So many women stopped me throughout the day. They wanted to share that the conference was exactly what they needed as they make difficult decisions for 2017.”

— Tina R. Johnson, president and CEO of JP Events & Consulting

 Throughout the day, diverse breakout sessions took place, featuring keynotes and panel discussions by many of the area’s most successful women. Workshop sessions were scheduled representing seven parallel tracks, each designed to appeal to those at each level — Business Development, Tools for Success, Leadership, Business 101, Power Track, Wellness Track and Personal Development.A major focus throughout the day was on the connections between career development and its intersection with one’s personal life, and the comments of Dr. Heidi Hanna, co-founder and executive director of the Institute for Integrative Neuroscience, went to the heart of that issue: “Recharge:  Five Simple Shifts to Energize Your Life.” Hanna has been a feature at many national and global conferences, including Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business summit, the Million Dollar Round Table and ESPN Women’s Leadership Summit.

Among the presenters were identical twin sisters Julie Hoffmann and Lori DuVal in a session entitled, “We did it and you can, too!” Their interior design firm, J&L Interiors LLC, was started in 1996 and has since been featured in “Better Homes and Gardens: New Decorating Book,” HGTV Decorator Showcase Houses and in numerous local magazines and newspapers.

“We attended an earlier Virginia Business Women’s Conference several years ago,” said Hoffman. “After that, we decided to become sponsors.”

“And now we are speakers!” said her sister.

Hoffmann and DuVal offered many practical tools on how to get started, how to maintain momentum, how and when to hire professionals, and how to reinvent one’s business through evolving technology and demographics. “We want to help others not make the mistakes we made when we started out,” said Hoffman.

This type of sharing was critical to the conference’s success. “So many women stopped me throughout the day,” Johnson said. “They wanted to share that the conference was exactly what they needed as they make difficult decisions for 2017.” ML