transitions yellow

Welcome to The 2019 Greater Hartford Women's Conference Homepage







April 11, 2019








We look forward to our biggest event yet.   Stay tuned for more information

Keynote Speaker Denise D'Ascenzo

denise dascenzoDenise D'Ascenzo

Denise D'Ascenzo is a 10-time Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist who has also earned distinction as the longest-serving news anchor at a single television station in Connecticut.

Denise became interested in journalism as a young child. She was born in Washington, DC and grew up in suburban Rockville, Maryland. At the age of 12, Denise launched the first newspaper at her grammar school. She went on to become editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper and the first person to receive a scholarship from the American Newspaper Women's Club to attend a summer journalism program at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

In 2013, Denise was elected to the Silver Circle, a prestigious honor bestowed by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for significant contributions to broadcasting. Two years later, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Connecticut Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Denise was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Quinnipiac University.

Denise and her husband, Wayne have a daughter, Kathryn. In her free time, Denise enjoys family outings, swimming, and hiking with her dogs.

Morning Breakout - “Transitions: A Family Affair”

Melanie St GermaineFamilies in the 21st century are more dynamic than ever and keeping up with the innumerable changes can be daunting. Throughout our lifespan change occurs,

sometimes several at a time. And sometimes before we’ve even had our first cup of coffee. Whether the transition is expected or not, welcomed or unsolicited, the approach to navigating most transitions is surprisingly similar. Finding joy and humor in these transitions helps to keep us grounded, even when we feel like the ground is crumbling out from underneath us. Through stories, research and interacting we will touch on ways to address transitions with grace and keep our families connected.

About the Presenter:  Melanie St. Germaine is a licensed Family and Marriage therapist, practicing in Wethersfield, CT.

Morning Breakout - Charting Your Journey through Education and Training

Karen SullivanKaren Sullivan to lead the breakout session “Charting Your Journey through Education and Training : Fear, Facts and Fallacies".

The economic and technological world we live in today increasingly requires ongoing education and training. In this workshop, Ms. Sullivan hopes to demystify higher education and other educational resources so attendees can determine what options will work best for them.


Topics to be covered include:

  • becoming familiar with the range of educational options available,
  • understanding how educational and professional goals can work hand in hand,
  • setting realistic goals about the structure and pace of their education,
  • appreciating the need to cultivate support networks and set up backup plans,
  • identifying a range of academic resources in advance, and
  • becoming comfortable as they navigate higher education for the first time or after a long hiatus.

Karen Sullivan is the Director of Adult Academic Services at the University of Hartford, where she has worked for over 15 years. Her primary responsibility is advising adult students who are returning to college to complete their undergraduate degrees or, in some cases, are beginning their undergraduate coursework. Having worked as a bank teller, licensed practical nurse, art consultant, and free-lance writer, attending seven different educational institutions in the process, she is very familiar with the struggles, excitement, and benefits that challenging oneself educationally and professionally can bring. She is dedicated to helping others explore their higher education path.

Emcee is South Windsor Chamber President Elaine Abouakar

Elaine AbouakarThis year's Emcee for the Conference will be Elaine AbouAkar, President of the South Windsor Chamber of Commerce (SWCC). Elaine is active on various committees at the SWCC, and has served on the Best of South Windsor Expo Committee in various capacities for the past 7 years. This year the South Windsor Chamber is celebrating their 50th Anniversary and Elaine is excitedly working with the Executive Committee and board of directors to create a memorable year.

Elaine is a full-time Realtor who helps buyers and sellers across Hartford and Tolland Counties. As a top producer at Century 21 AllPoints Realty, she is committed to excellence and built her reputation on personal attention and service.

Elaine and her family have happily resided in South Windsor for the past 27 years. In addition to her service to the SWCC, she is also a member of Tri-County Alliance of Realtors since 2011, Past-President of T-CAR 2017; past Vice President of Connecticut Women's Alliance, an organization that seeks to support the advancement of women and girls through educational programming and events; and a graduate of St. Joseph's College in West Hartford, native of Connecticut.

Morning Breakout - Tapping Your Potential and Taking Command

Candace Freedenberg headshot thumb Valerie Gordon

Join Candace Freedenberg of Untapped Potential Inc. and Valerie Gordon of Commander-in-She in this informative and engaging session focused on YOU!


 Leveraging tools-of-their trades, you will learn how to:

- lead with your best attributes by “casting” your central character

- create a Market Attack Plan through the M.A.P. 4 U process, a programmatic approach to a career pivot bringing ‘YOU’ to market

- understand your “why” and reframe your 'go-to-market' story 

- follow the lean-launch framework to create your next chapter and reach YOUR Potential

Morning Breakout - Making Wise Health Choices

thumb DCameron Conference 002

Are you Choosing Wisely® when it comes to your health?

Life is full of health transitions, some are expected and others not so much.  The aim is finding tools to assist in navigating through health transitions.  Join me in an interactive discussion on five questions which can empower you; and techniques which can be useful in navigating health transitions and foster well-being.

About the Presenter

Donna Cameron is the Women's Health Nurse Navigator at Eastern Connecticut Health Network, and is the GPS for her clients, Great Personal Service.  Donna has over 35 years of clinical experience in women's health including patient education and women's health coaching; and is certified as a Clinical Breast Care Nurse (CBCN(r)).  Donna is dedicated to providing education on preventative health, facilitating communication with healthcare providers, identifying available community resources, and can provide guidance in finding a specialist or scheduling an appointment.  Donna aids you and your family in taking a holistic approach to your healthcare no matter what stage of life.

Morning Featured Speaker - Karen Senteio

Senteio KarenKaren Senteio, VERVE, LLC

About the Speaker

Karen Senteio is a Professional Coach and President of VERVE LLC, Consulting Services which focuses on inspired living, working and leading.  She is an activist for helping individuals dare greatly and live authentic, courageous, and resilient lives connected to their purpose and inspired by their gifts. Senteio works with professionals to lead powerfully, authentically, and courageously, therefore creating cultures that not only innovate and create but delivers and thrives powered by connection, engagement, ideas and energy at all levels within the organization. 

Senteio has over 29 years corporate experience in leadership positions in Project and Program Management, Operations, Information Technology, Diversity and Inclusion, Training, Facilitation and Change Management.  Her corporate experience provides a unique backdrop to her coaching and consulting practice providing a lens into the many challenges individuals face in the workplace and at home. 


Panel Discussion - Managing Pivotal Transitions with Power and Poise

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or from the corporate world, developing meaningful relationships is essential to your success. Too often, women in business are taught to follow formulaic, old-school approaches to connecting with others. It’s time to break free and lighten up for the 21st century connection economy.

Heidi Bailey will lead a panel on “Managing Transitions with Power and Poise” with panelists Valerie Gordon, Candance Freedenberg, Maureen Ross Gemme and Kelly Kennedy.

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Afternoon Featured Workshop - Maximizing Energy

Cindy Headshot 2017Cindy Maher 
Leading Edge Coaching & Development

Maximizing Energy in a World That Sucks You Dry

Tired?  Join the club!  As women, our response to rising demands and pressures in the workplace and homeplace is usually to work longer.  Unfortunately, that quickly takes a toll on our productivity, creativity, engagement and health.  The problem with time is that it’s a finite resource (you only get 24 hours in a day).  But energy is renewable.  During this workshop, you’ll explore the four wellsprings of energy and take a close look at what you’re doing to contribute to your leadership effectiveness and reputation.  This unique and transformational keynote will engage you through an innovative mix of improvisational comedy, cutting edge research, and peer learning.  You’ll walk away inspired, renewed, and ready to move forward.

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