The Soirée Women’s Leadership Symposium 2024 Session Breakdown

In the final weeks before the 2024 Soirée Women’s Leadership Symposium comes to downtown Little Rock, details about the day’s lineup have now been released to the public. 

The sixth annual symposium will feature main stage speakers and panels (including keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien), as well as breakout sessions following three tracks: executive, entrepreneur and leading ladies.

Here’s a rundown of who will take the stage on May 2:


Main Stage 

Keynote Speaker: Soledad O’Brien
The award-winning journalist, documentarian, entrepreneur and producer will present a keynote session, followed by a fireside chat with Jess Ardrey, editor of Little Rock Soirée magazine.

“Works Supports Life, Not the Other Way Around”
• Dr. Sabrina Starling, founder of Tap the Potential 
Burnout is pervasive, and hustle culture would make us believe we must grind it out to succeed. My direct experience and research prove otherwise. Limits force innovation and creativity. It’s possible to have career success while prioritizing health, self-care and attention to meaningful relationships. Work can support life! Come away inspired to dream again and take the small steps to make your work support your life.

Women’s Wellness Panel
 Dr. Jessica Coker, associate professor at UAMS Department of Psychiatry and co-director of UAMS Women’s Mental Health Program
 Dr. Kalena Jones, director of ARHome Program for Baptist Health
 Dr. Yara Robertson, medical director of surgery for CARTI
• Moderated by Dr. Lee Ann Jolly, founder of Jolly Bodies
The 2023 symposium introduced to attendees our first-annual women’s wellness panel discussion focused on maternal health. This year our medical experts will share information on the challenges currently facing women in Arkansas when it comes to mental health, maternal health, the impact stress has on our bodies, the benefits of integrating physical fitness into a daily routine and more.


Entrepreneur Track 

“Starting Out: What I Wish I Had Known” Panel Discussion
Kendalynn Bolton, KB’s Love by the Pound
Sara Hurst, Bella’s Kitchen and Wellness
Laura Westlake, Laura B Luxury 
• Moderated by Erica Gee, WLJ
These four entrepreneurs spent years in the workforce before starting their own businesses. They are entering the stage vulnerable and willing to share insights on the mistakes they made, information they overlooked and surprises they encountered in their first couple years of being in business.

“Launching, Building and Scaling your business in Today’s World”
• Whitney Bower, Bower Legal PLLC
Brand protection has changed exponentially with the rise of social media and the sudden availability of national platforms to market our products and services. At the same time, navigating the essential needs as a business owner has also become increasingly more complicated. Bower will address the essentials with regard to protecting what you are building, setting yourself up for success in the event you want to later sell your business and how to avoid getting into litigation because you didn’t properly clear or protect your business name or brand assets. We must start thinking of our businesses as having the potential for national reach, even if our customers and clients are local. 

“Where’s the Money? Understanding Diverse Funding Options for Women Entrepreneurs”
• Jensyn Hallett, Alivest and Southern Capital Project
Join this enlightening session where we navigate the landscape of capital tailored specifically for women entrepreneurs. We will provide practical insights and guidance on navigating the funding landscape, empowering you with the knowledge and tools to access the capital you need to realize your entrepreneurial aspirations.


Executive Track 

Executive Roundtable (Sessions 1 and 2)
• Moderated by Kelly Carney, Southwest Power Pool
This two-part session will be available to only C-suite and executive leaders attending this year’s symposium. Join a diverse group of senior-level professionals from different industries and organizations as we come together to share invaluable insights, gain new perspectives and deepen your knowledge in an interactive setting. Attendees and our moderator will connect, spark meaningful conversation and forge connections during this interactive session. 

“Empowering Your Health”
• Dr. Yara Robertson, CARTI
Today’s executives lead fast-paced lives with significant demands on their time and health in and outside the office. Couple that with the fact that female leaders are known to put others’ needs before their well-being, and we have a strong need to prioritize health. As a breast surgical oncologist and five-year kidney cancer survivor, Robertson will discuss the need for women to listen to their bodies and prioritize preventive health measures. She’s a tireless advocate for women not taking no for an answer if — or when — something feels off. 


Leading Ladies Track 

“The Power of Your Network in Building Your Professional Path in Wealth”
• Dana Silaski, Stephens
Amy Knight, Stephens
A recent Stephens’ research study examines how limited professional networks and risk aversion inhibit women executives in building wealth and maximizing career success. Join this session for a discussion on how to develop a meaningful network.

“Communicating Across Generations”
• Jessie Wilson, Dale Carnegie Training
Today’s workforce may consist of as many as four generations working side by side, and connecting with each other may present a challenge. This session will give you tools to work with and communicate more effectively with diverse generations, as well as tips on how to connect with and gain buy-in from different generations at any level within an organization.

“Next Level Leaders: Empower Through Inclusive Leadership”
• Tina Gilbert, Next Level Training Solutions Group
As we navigate this fast-paced world, inclusive leadership evolves as a cornerstone for unlocking success and driving meaningful change. This engaging discussion will review inclusive leadership principles and practices (specifically for women leaders), taking your leadership skills to the next level. Expand your toolkit with essential strategies to lead confidently, foster diversity and cultivate a culture of belonging in your organization, community and inner circle. 


The half-day symposium will take place at the Statehouse Convention Center, and registration is open now. 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.

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