Christina Muñoz (second from left) moderates a forum with Kristi Dannelly of Magna IV, Marcy Doderer of Arkansas Children's Hospital and Karen Minkel of the Walton Family Foundation.

Guide. Network. Empower. Lead. On May 16, more than 250 people gathered under these banners at the inaugural Soirée Women’s Leadership Symposium.

The half-day event brought together women and men to discuss the ways women impact our communities through professional, political and personal lenses.

Attendees first heard from Kristi Dannelley, president and co-owner of Magna IV; Marcy Doderer, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s; and Karen Minkel, home region program director at the Walton Family Foundation on the challenges of navigating the boardroom and key strategies for success.

“I’m not sure you can lead without purpose,” Doderer said. “If you’re not leading with purpose, you’re actually not leading, because I don’t think you can accidentally lead. Leadership is by definition purposeful. You have to know in advance of where you’re headed how you’re going to get there.”

Breakout sessions covered an array of topics designed to open conversations, build professional skills and create a collaborative movement among women in the workplace. Subjects included employment law and gender equity, business and personal finance literacy, entrepreneurship, how to run for office and knowing your brand.

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, co-founders and co-CEOs of theSkimm.

Closing out the day were keynote speakers Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, co-founders and co-CEOs of theSkimm, a membership company with e-newsletters, podcasts, apps, guides and more designed to help women live smarter.

Zakin and Weisberg discussed the importance of knowing your audience, how to build an office culture, when to cancel plans in order to stay focused on your goals and how a good leader balances clear direction with empathy.

“Sure, we could simply celebrate women all day long,” Little Rock Soirée editor Jess Ardrey said, “but I couldn’t be more proud of our team for putting together a lineup of impactful speakers with substantive ideas and information attendees can put into action as soon as they leave the room.”

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin join Little Rock Soirée Editor Jess Ardrey for a panel discussion.

Special thanks to co-presenting sponsors Delta Dental of Arkansas and The Hatcher Agency for their support, as well as session sponsors Aptus Financial, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporations, Arkansas Health and Wellness, Bank of America and Simmons Bank.