News Room

August 12, 2019

2020 Women’s Leadership Summit Leadership Change

Wendy Barrett, Summit Chair


Samira Abdalla, Summit Co-Chair

The partners at Ignite Succeed are pleased to announce that there will be two new faces leading the team responsible for the 2020 Women’s Leadership Summit. Wendy Barrett and Samira Abdalla will serve as chair and co-chair respectively of the June 12th event at The Venue in Lenoir City.
Barrett credits her decision to chair the Summit because of her passion for helping others pursue excellence and maximize their potential.

“The vision and mission statement of the Summit strongly coincide with my life philosophy … that we receive by giving, and helping women reach their full potential is one of the most rewarding challenges to experience,” Barrett explained. She added, “My biggest accomplishments came as a result of coaching and developing others, because their success is my success.”

Abdalla brings her perspective as a young professional to the Summit planning. She has a strong understanding of business administration, leadership, divergent thinking and is committed to the Summit’s vision and mission.

“I believe that mentorship is an important component of success. The best way to grow is by giving, which can be both mutually beneficial and also life altering,” Abdalla shared.

The Summit is an annual event. The event runs from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Registration will open early fall. To get updated information on the 2020 Summit program and events, visit the Summit page or email (The 2019 event was cancelled due to extenuating personal circumstances.)

January 17, 2019

2020 Women’s Leadership Summit Moves to The Venue

Knoxville, TN — Ignite Succeed is excited to announce that the 2020 Women’s Leadership Summit will be held at The Venue at Lenoir City.  The expanded meeting space at The Venue means even more women can be part of this premier women’s event. It will also allow more women-focused vendors to participate. The 2018 Summit had more vendor requests than the space allowed us to accommodate.

The theme for the Friday, June 14 event is The Power of Us.  A powerful line up of speakers has been slated and will be announced in coming days.  Our speakers will address how women can access the power of:

  • Collaboration
  • Community
  • Generations
  • Inclusion

In addition to our four powerful main speakers, the Summit always includes a panel of local women leaders who share their personal leadership challenges and stories. A highlight of the day will be the presentation of The Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award, which recognizes bold, persistent, and forward-thinking women leaders.

For the first time this year, the Summit has partnered with Girls Inc. of the Tennessee Valley, a local non-profit organization that encourages all girls to be “Strong, Smart, and Bold” through direct service and advocacy. A portion of the Summit proceeds will go to support Girls Inc. programs.  In addition, Girls Inc. will have a presence at the Summit.

This full-day experience for women is the only one of its kind in our area. For 13 years, Summit has been the premier event for women leaders in the greater East Tennessee area.

January 2, 2019

January Women’s Leadership Salon salutes “The Women Who Speak Up”

Two recipients of the Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award share leadership stories and challenges

Knoxville, TN – A recent article in Diversity Woman noted that women tend to “minimize the importance of what they say when they do speak up — even female executives in meetings with their peers.” A Harvard Business Review found that “despite the incredible value that women have, [they] too often second guess that value and hold back from saying the very things that most need to be heard.” These studies and other research show that women need get stronger in their ability to speak up.

The January 10th Women’s Leadership Salon presents local women leaders Karen Carson and Phyllis Nichols who have learned to speak up for themselves and their constituencies. Both women are recipients of the Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award, which recognizes bold, persistent, and forward-thinking women leaders.

Karen Carson is a former Chair of the Knox County School Board. She served on the Board for 12 years, from 2004 to 2016 and was Chair for three terms. A registered nurse at East TN Children’s Hospital, Karen received The Lizzie in 2017.

Phyllis Nichols is President and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League and a Senior Fellow of the National Urban League. She is the Immediate past Chair and founding Trustee of the Great Schools Partnership. Phyllis was the 2016 recipient of The Lizzie.

The bimonthly Salon is an opportunity for East Tennessee women to network and develop leadership skills. The Salon meets on Thursday, January 10, 2019, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Rothchild Catering and Conference Center, 8807 Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. Check-in and networking begin at 11:30. Tickets are $30, which includes lunch.

Register by 12:00 noon on Tuesday, January 7, 2019 at Email for more information about Salons and other women’s leadership programs.

November 12, 2018

Girl’s Inc. named the charitable partner of the Ignite Succeed Women’s Leadership Summit

Knoxville, TN – Ignite Succeed is proud to announce that Girls Inc. of TN Valley will be the charitable partner for the 2019 Ignite Women’s Leadership Summit, which will be held on Friday, June 14, 2019. In addition to showcasing Girls Inc. at the Summit, a portion of the event proceeds will go to support Girls Inc. programs.Summit logo

During the summer, the volunteer Women’s Leadership Council who organize the event decided that adding a charitable partner would greatly expand the impact and reach of the event. Girls Inc. was chosen because of the compatibility of the two organization’s mission statements.

Every year, the Ignite Women’s Leadership Council designs an interactive Summit program to educate, empower, and motivate women leaders so that they realize their full potential. Since 1976, Girls Inc. has been working to teach girls how to be strong, smart, and bold. The organization has programs in Anderson, Knox, and Blount counties that provide programming to teach girls how to “advocate for themselves and their communities while building self-confidence, expanding their horizons, and preparing girls of today to become women of tomorrow!”

Girls Inc. will be featured in all marketing materials leading up to the Summit. At the event, attendees will be exposed not only to Girls Inc.’s mission, but also to the results the organization is able to achieve. (Learn more about Girls Inc. at

Early bird registration is open now for the June 2019 Summit at For the first time, the 2019 Summit will be held at The Venue in Lenoir City. The Summit is a full day of speakers, networking, and fun, running from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Ignite Women’s Leadership Summit is an annual event held on the second Friday in June. The event is chaired by Ignite Succeed partner Deb Schmitz and organized by a committee of local women leaders. For more information, visit

October 29, 2018

November Women’s Leadership Salon salutes “The Women Who Have Served”

Local Air Force veteran and Army reservist share leadership experiences and challenges

Knoxville, TN – According to 2017 numbers, there are 1.3 million Americans serving in active-duty status, with another 800,000 reservists. There are more women in the military today than ever before. Women make up 16% of the enlisted personnel and 18% of the officer corps.Photos of Rita Thomas and Angela Sanders

With Veteran’s Day approaching, the November Ignite Women’s Leadership Salon will explore women and military service. The topic for the November 8 luncheon will be “The Women Who Have Served.” On the panel are Angela Sanders, a U.S. Army reservist, and Rita Thomas, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who will share their experiences in the military, including challenges and leadership lessons.

Angela Sanders, a healthcare services manager with Brookdale Healthcare Services, serves in the U.S. Army Reserves with the 2-398th Cavalry Regiment in Madisonville, Kentucky. As a reservist, she serves as a Company Commander and Officer-In-Charge of the Battalion S1 staff section.

Rita Thomas, an engagement liaison with Functional Pathways and a freelance photographer, is an Air Force veteran. She served nine years as a cryptologic linguist and Czechoslovak language specialist, earning Commander and Inspector General awards during her tenure.

The bimonthly Salon is an opportunity for East Tennessee women to network and develop leadership skills. The Salon meets from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Rothchild Catering and Conference Center, 8807 Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. Check-in and networking begin at 11:30. Tickets are $30, which includes lunch.

Register by Monday, November 5, 2018 at Email for more information about Salons and other women’s leadership programs.

July 19, 2018

Women’s Leadership Boot Camp accepting applications for September session

Knoxville, TN – All too often, women fail to move into leadership positions because they lack self-awareness. They can’t readily identify their individual strengths.  They allow negative self-talk to block their forward momentum. They shy away from conflict and difficult conversations. The Rising Stars Women’s Leadership Boot Camp addresses these challenges so that women can reach their full potential.

During the 32-hours of training, Boot Camp participants learn to lead teams more effectively, grow and develop their employees, and communicate more effectively across the organization. The Camp is broken into four consecutive Fridays, beginning September 7, 2018. The four days of training include:

  • Day 1, Effective Communication: Understand your personal communication style and the driving forces that motivate you. Recognize the styles and motivators of team members and how to adapt to be more effective. These modules include the DISC and Driving Forces assessments.
  • Day 2, Emotional Intelligence: Learn to build self-awareness, self-control, and empathy and to understand how to manage workplace conflicts. These modules include both emotional intelligence and conflict styles assessments.
  • Day 3, Personal Power: Explore key traits and styles of effective leadership and strengthen your understanding of and ability to delegate for growth.
  • Day 4, Employee Management: Learn to build personal and mutual accountability to strengthen your team and to apply a four-step process to engage employees in your team and your organization.

Boot camp participants earn continuing education units through Pellissippi State Community College.

Apply Now

East Tennessee women are encouraged to apply to join the ranks of the 19 program graduates.  Boot camp alumni cross all levels of management, including vice presidents, supervisors, administrative coordinators, non-profit leaders, and entrepreneurs and range in age from their early 20s to their late 50s. The experience and age diversity results in highly valuable peer-to-peer coaching during the sessions.

Applications are being accepted through August 17, 2018 for the 32-hour interactive program that begins September 7, 2018. The full program fee is $1,997, which includes extensive assessment, training materials, breakfast, and lunch. Classes are 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on the four Fridays in September (7th, 14th, 21st, & 28th). Susanne Dalton Dupes and Deb Schmitz are the boot camp instructors.

To apply for the workshop:


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