ConnectHER Conference Fosters Collaboration in LaGrange County, Over 120 Attend

ConnectHER Conference Fosters Collaboration in LaGrange County, Over 120 Attend

The LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce hosted a special event designed to foster collaboration, learning, and networking among women from all walks of life that live and work in LaGrange County. The ConnectHER Conference brought together more than 120 business leaders, CEOs, employees, and more who attended the event to take a deep dive into breakout sessions, hear from a panel of local women leaders who are making a difference, and make new business connections.

The conference took place at the Blue Gate Garden Inn in Shipshewana on Mar. 20. Building Indiana’s Shelby Case had the opportunity to sit down with Sara Patrick, executive director of the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce, to ask a few questions and learn about the impact events of this type can have on the local business community.


Sara Patrick, executive director.

Case: “What made you decide to start this women’s conference? I’ve heard people say this event was your vision.”

Patrick: “I’m very passionate about empowering women. Many of the women who are working in our communities don’t have the opportunity to be connected, be empowered, to be equipped, to be developed. We wanted to create a space for women to be the best they can be and make a difference in their communities. That’s really what this was all about.”


Case: “I’ve read that your chamber has one of the most active memberships in Northeast Indiana. Given that today is all about building connections between LaGrange County women, can you share with us some examples of how these connections will go on to create business growth or new opportunities in your communities?”

Patrick: “That’s such an honor to be known for that, thank you. As you look around our vendor fair here today, you’ll see women connecting with businesses they never knew existed. And as you know, brand awareness is a big factor in growing your business. So, I think there’s a lot of opportunity here not just to give out your business card but get to know a face and a name.

We also host a quarterly roundtable, which is kind of a smaller-scale version of what we have here today. These programs connect women with leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses – but one of the more intimate pieces of that is a woman-to-woman opportunity. It’s organically grown into this opportunity for women to speak into, and be spoken into, a relationship with a new person. That’s something we’re excited about.”

Case: “A big focus of today’s topics includes things like work-life balance, physical and mental health, managing stress, and avoiding burnout. Our publication has covered these topics too, because they translate directly into better outcomes for business leaders. What are some of the most empowering takeaways you’d like today’s attendees to carry back with them to their companies?”

Patrick: “Now more than ever, post-covid, we’re looking at the whole person when we talk about workforce development. And that has a lot to do with what people are carrying with them to the work environment – mental health, spiritual health, physical health, emotional health, all of those things. I think the dynamics of the woman as the homemaker stereotype hasn’t changed, but many women are also the breadwinner. So, how do you support women who may be torn between the two of them? I’m particularly excited about one of the breakout sessions today because it’s about work-life blending. Not work-life balance. It’s about how we can blend the two halves of our lives and do well at both of those.

That’s really what drove a lot of today’s topics. How do we help the whole person as she steps into her profession, community, and beyond.”


Case: “Where do you see this conference going and evolving?”

Patrick: “This is our second year of hosting this conference, and already we’re seeing that more women are catching hold of what’s happening here. They want to get more involved, and I think that affirms a need for local development, local connection, and professional development. So, I think it’ll continue to grow. Ultimately, I’d love to see more women involved. But it’s important to focus on the small nuances of how we connect women in different ways. This year, you’ll see more breaks, so that more women can meet each other. Lunch will be all about connecting over food. We’re giving them a little bit of space from content, a little breathing room, to enable those relationships to grow.”



Cortney Spencer, of Beauty with Cortney, was one of the featured speakers during the ConnectHER Conference.

Speakers that presented during the 2024 ConnectHER Conference included:

  • Anika Dion, Community Chiropractic & Wellness Center
  • Cortney Spencer, Beauty with Cortney
  • Andie Hines-Lagemann, Tidewater Coaching
  • Tishamarie Strasser, Bring It. Push It. Own It.
  • Susan Imler, Swiss Re Group
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