October 03, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

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The inaugural Empowering Our Region Through Mentoring and Leadership Conference will be held Thursday, Oct. 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg.

The cost to participate is $45 in advance, and $60 at the door, ($15 at the door with student ID) and includes a light breakfast and lunch. To reserve a space, or learn more, call 800-232-1670 or visit EmpoweringOurRegion.com.

Organized by the Women's Professional Partnership and Bucknell University, the conference will underscore the value and potential impact mentoring can have on individuals and communities, and model a new way for professional people to interact with each other. It is intended to be a first step in creating a "mentoring region."

"Imagine communities in which professionals helping each other is the expected norm in business life, much the same way we behave toward family and friends in our personal lives," explained convener Erica Shames.

"Imagine if executives hobnobbed with their staffs in mentor/mentee relationships that helped both do better. That's the reality within the Women's Professional Partnership (WPP), and that's the model we want to take to, and see replicated, in the empirical world."

Dan RockwellKeynote speaker Dan Rockwell, known as The Leadership Freak, will encourage participants to become intentional about developing mentoring relationships. Rockwell's talk, "Meaning and Transformation Through Mentoring," begins at 9:30 a.m.

"Mentors elevate our potential, enhance our effectiveness and enrich our lives," said Rockwell, who will focus on how to identify and approach a potential mentor and discuss core skills for mentors and mentees to show that mentoring is accessible to everyone.

"Mentoring has the potential to change the way we think about business and leadership. The old days of 'Lone Ranger' leadership are long past. We live in a world that values collaborative relationships," he said.

The conference will include two panels that will introduce attendees to mentor/mentee relationships that already exist, further define mentorship, show the diversity of mentoring relationships and provide information on mentoring tools.

"Stories from Mentees and Mentors," moderated by Bucknell University Dean of Students Susan Lantz, begins at 10:45 a.m.

"Women students need professional women role models," said Lantz. "This conference will open up a fabulous learning opportunity for our students. They will be able to hear real experiences from men and women in leadership positions, ask specific questions and apply that to what they are learning in the classroom."

"Mentoring in Our Empirical World," moderated by Michael Johnson-Cramer, director of Bucknell University's School of Management, begins at 1 p.m.

Steve Stumbris, executive director of Bucknell's Small Business Development Center, will moderate a Speed Mentoring session at 2:45 p.m. During the Speed Mentoring portion of the conference, participants will start off by developing their own elevator pitches regarding what they have to offer as a mentor.

"I'm passionate about helping entrepreneurs and business owners in our community achieve their full potential," said Stumbris. "I'm excited by the group of talented and motivated individuals who are involved in planning this event, and the vision they share for helping people come together to achieve success."

In addition to WPP and Bucknell University, sponsors include Evangelical Community Hospital, Susquehanna Bank, Elizabeth's An American Bistro, Susquehanna Life magazine and The Printed Page. Media sponsors include Sunbury Broadcasting and WVIA Public Media.

A steering committee has been meeting since October 2013 to develop the conference framework. Other steering committee members include Sarah Bell, senior director of Bucknell's Career Development Center; Julee Bertsch, Bucknell's director of Alumni Career Services; Judy Christ, administrator of education and finance at Bucknell's Small Business Development Center; Elizabeth Long-Furia, owner of Elizabeth's An American Bistro; Tracy Russell, director of Bucknell's Women's Resource Center; and Erica Shames, founder and publisher of Susquehanna Life magazine

Conference participants/panelists include Yvonne Arnold, owner, Warrior Run Petcare; Kendra Aucker, COO and president, Evangelical Community Hospital; Ada Bailor, youth leadership intern, Leadership Education and Farming; Jorjia Clinger, owner, Shapes to Come; Joshua Knauss, partner, 18th Street Financial; Susan Mathias, CEO, Transitions; Brooks Miller, owner/operator, North Mountain Pastures; Lynn Miller, executive vice president, Geisinger Health System; Leann Mischel, associate professor of management and founder of entrepreneur program, Susquehanna University; Deb O'Hara, owner, Fetch and Play; singer-songwriter and motivational speaker KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner; Tim Schoener, chief information officer, Susquehanna Health; Scott Shaffer, vice president, yard operations, Bingaman & Son Lumber; Terry Stahley, founder and owner of Camp Ladybug; and Heidi Witmer, founder and director, Leadership Education and Farming.