The Soirée Women’s Leadership Symposium has announced it will return on Thursday, April 28, with keynote speakers Cara Brookins and Shiza Shahid.

Now in its fourth year, SWLS offers a half day of professional development for women in the workplace through sessions led by entrepreneurs, executives and industry experts. The 2022 event, which is presented by Delta Dental of Arkansas and The Hatcher Agency, will be held in person at the DoubleTree Hotel and Robinson Center in downtown Little Rock with the option for virtual attendance.

"The keynote speakers at SWLS are one of the unique features of this event," says Mandy Richardson, symposium founder and publisher of Little Rock Soirée magazine. "They always bring such strong messaging and perspectives, and this year's keynote speakers will not disappoint. Both are accomplished women who have created success for themselves, but have such different stories to share. I'm really excited for everyone to get to know Cara Brookins and Shiza Shahid." 

Brookins, who spent two decades as a software developer and senior analyst, went viral when she and her four young children built their own two-story, five-bedroom home by watching YouTube tutorials after a series of crises forced them to rebuild their lives. Today, she hosts "The Cara Brookins Show" and has authored eight books, including "Rise: How a House Built a Family," and will share her message of resilience in the morning keynote slot.

Shahid, the luncheon keynote speaker, has a track record of launching mission-led organizations and businesses in Silicon Valley and globally. She co-founded the Malala Fund with Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and served as founding CEO, co-founded the popular cookware brand Our Place that celebrates cultural traditions, launched NOW Ventures to invest in problem-solving technology startups and founded The Collective, a community of entrepreneurs working together to bring collaborative change.

The 2022 event will follow an updated structure with breakout sessions divided into tracks that will focus on different branches of female leadership. Sessions will follow the same "speed session" format as in 2021, allowing for a larger variety of local leaders to take the stage and ensure participants remain engaged and leave with "a wealth of new insights and inspiration."

Also new to 2022 is a partnership with CARTI Breast Center, which will host a VIP event the night before the symposium and interactive wellness content the day of the event. Details of the VIP event will be announced soon.

"Each year, our goal is to put together programming that speaks to the needs of women in the workplace and to create networks of resources and support for women in business in Arkansas," Richardson says. "This year's event will provide attendees with a diverse group of speakers and topics, but more so I hope attendees leave this year's event feeling energized and invigorated. It will be great to be in person this year and to get back to breakout sessions with focus and energy dedicated to the different women who attend our event."

Richardson notes the focus is on the in-person event this year, with the 2022 virtual event more scaled back and less interactive than in 2020 or 2021. Organizers are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 cases in the area and will follow CDC and Arkansas Department of Health protocol recommendations at the time of the event.

Registration and sponsorships for the 2022 symposium are open now, and discounted early bird pricing is available through March 1. Click here to reserve your spot.

Learn more about the Soirée Women’s Leadership Symposium at the event website and follow along on Facebook and Instagram for updates.