BETHLEHEM, PA -- The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) – the world’s leading non-profit trade association for the kitchen and bath industry, presented its inaugural Women to Women Mentoring Conference September 6 to 8, 2022 at the 21c Hotel in Louisville, KY.
Themed Mind, Body and Soul, the conference was inspired by a conversation between NKBA EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Suzie Williford and the newly named Fortune Brands Water Innovations Group CEO, Cheri Phyfer, to bring NKBA women together to learn, connect and grow through a formalized mentorship program.
“I had been thinking about creating an NKBA women’s mentoring program for some time. A conversation with Cheri Phyfer inspired me to move into action and when I did, I was so pleased to see the enthusiasm for this launch event. We’ve landed on something our members are craving,” shared Williford. “I wanted to create opportunities where women from all parts of the industry could connect, share, and inspire each other. I’m grateful we could make this happen.”
The W2W Conference was attended by 75 hand-selected kitchen and bath professionals. Over 180 applicants from North America were vetted before selecting the final 75. The conference was intentionally designed to be intimate, allowing for honest and open discussions in the creative and provocative environment of the 21 c Museum Hotel in Louisville, KY. The location supported the goal to facilitate mind, body and soul activities where attendees could interact and connect on different levels.
Keynote speaker, Sarah Robbins, chief operating officer, 21c Museum Hotels kicked off day 1 with the presentation “What it Takes” - her personal story of her path to success. Robbins took the group back to her youth as a hotel maid bringing us forward to her college ROTC and Army Reserve commitments to the current day reality of running 21c Museum Hotels in partnership with a powerful European partner. Her parting words “It’s just a job. Remember to make time for the things that matter. Connect your soul and your body, and your mind will sing.”
NKBA W2W Advisor Panel
Following the keynote, Williford led a panel discussion with the 2023 W2W Leadership Advisors:
· Chas Daniels, owner, Acero Bella
· Cheri Phyfer, CEO, Water Innovations Group, Fortune Brands
· Mary Putman, vice president of Marketing and Brand, GE Appliances.
· Marcia Speer, CEO, Poggenpohl US
· Sherry Qualls, CEO, White Good MARCOM Agency
Body and Soul
Day 1 continued with “get out of your comfort zone” activities including drawing, yoga, meditation, as well as a Louisville walking tour. A power dinner was wrapped with a Bourbon Tasting hosted by Barbara O’Conner of Hermitage Farm Bourbon Tasting, one of a select number of Louisville female Master Bourbon Tasters.
Conference Wrap-Up – GE Monogram Experience Center
Day 2 included a final networking breakfast and a soul-baring discussion where advisors, speakers, and guests shared one significant takeaway from the event. One of the conference sponsors and advisors, Mary Putman, vice president of Marketing and Brand, GE Appliances, hosted a tour of the Louisville-based Monogram Experience Center which included insights from the Monogram design team, cooking demonstrations and energetic panel discussions featuring accomplished women in philanthropy, sports and design.
Sponsored by Poggenpohl, GE Appliances and FB Global Plumbing Group, W2W was conceived by NKBA CSO/EVP Suzie Williford along with key female industry executives to cultivate leadership, empowerment and mentorship of women in the Kitchen and Bath Industry.