The first Maine Women’s Conference – a full-day event that included keynote speakers, breakout sessions, lunch, expo and cocktail party – drew more than 300 ladies to the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland on May 9.

“The idea of the conference was to bring something to Maine that hadn’t been before,” said board president Mary-Theresa Tringale of Portland. “We wanted to create something that was more than just a lunch or a workshop, bringing all the best elements of what’s offered to women all in one place.”

Keynote speakers Caroline Paul, author of “The Gutsy Girl,” and comedian and disabilities rights advocate Maysoon Zayid set the stage for more than a dozen breakout session speakers on topics such as branding, social media, networking, leading and engaging a team.

“The women’s movement is taking momentum, and this is a little piece of it,” said Kate Greene of South Thomaston. “I can take part here in Maine and meet other strong successful women.”

The founders of Maine Women’s Conference established it as a nonprofit organization last August, envisioning the conference as the first in a series of annual events to bring Maine women together to connect, educate, inspire and empower one another to assume new and expanded roles professionally and personally.

“By educating, inspiring and providing tools, this will empower women to negotiate, deal with gender-related harassment, network and take the next steps in their lives,” said board member Yvonne Devine of Freeport. “It’s tremendously exciting, because we’ve created the start of something.”

“I was looking for what you folks are looking for – inspiration, education and good ideas,” said room host Penny Mills, introducing a full session called “Everything Is Negotiable: Do It Skillfully” led by Joy Conley Kacik.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and feel like you’re treading water,” said Jen Lopardo of Cumberland. “To take a break from everything and be inspired is pretty awesome.”

“There’s this warmth,” said board member Abbie McGilvery of Portland. “People are just showing up as themselves.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 3:40 p.m. on June 4, 2018, to correct a reference to the board president.

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