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ELFA Women’s Leadership Forum Sparks New Ideas, Connections

April 22, 2021, 07:20 AM

A record 268 professionals convened online for ELFA Women’s Leadership Forum LIVE! The popular leadership development conference hosted by the ELFA Women’s Council attracted a diverse group of members, from emerging talent to seasoned professionals, including women and men. All gathered for a packed day of learning and networking organized around the theme “Stoking the Fire.”

Deb Baker, Chair of the Women's Council, kicked off the event by highlighting that the Forum was more relevant than ever in the age of COVID-19: “Over the past year, many of us have faced challenges we never expected. I know many of you have been working overtime, taking on new roles at work, and juggling new responsibilities at home. We’ve all had to pivot to adapt to a new world ... There’s never been a better time for us to come together, to invest in ourselves and our teams, and to learn from each other and grow our networks.”

ELFA Board Chair Kris Snow concurred with Baker as she welcomed attendees, stressing the importance of the Forum. “While no group or community has been spared some degree of impact from the global pandemic, women have been hit especially hard,” she said, sharing statistics highlighting the pandemic’s impact on women in the workplace throughout the United States. “Those are some stark statistics that further reiterate why today’s conversations and our theme of ‘Stoking the Fire’ hit the mark so perfectly.”

Snow underscored that ELFA is dedicated to driving “full-spectrum diversity” throughout the equipment finance industry. “I am happy to say that the organization is committed to supporting and accelerating women, as well as other underrepresented groups, into positions of leadership within the association and our industry.”

Following Snow’s remarks, Jennifer Fanz, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Forum and Chair-elect of the Women’s Council, previewed the day’s agenda and offered tips to attendees for maximizing their experience at the conference. “The energy that you put out is the energy you'll get back,” said Fanz. “Invest in yourselves today. Take the time to meet somebody, take today for everything that is being offered.”

Hot-topic sessions and speakers included Executive Coach Shannon Cassidy on “The 5 Degree Principle: Small Changes to Spark Big Results”; Success Trainer Kelly Accetta on “How to Defuse the Landmines We Plant in Our Lives”; and TomorrowZone Founder and CEO Deborah Reuben and Forum Chair Jennifer Fanz on “Reinvention: Letting Go of Yesterday to Ignite Your Tomorrow.”

At the Executive Leader Panel, equipment finance executives discussed the importance of “Stoking the Fire” and not letting setbacks extinguish your flame. The interactive session was moderated by Women’s Council member Kara Miyasato, Marketing Director, Stryker, Flex Financial, and included panelists Michelle Fuchs, Vice President, Business Development Manager, Stearns Bank NA-Equipment Finance Division; Christine Gagnon, CFO, African Asset Finance Company; Nancy A. Robles, COO/Compliance Officer, Eastern Funding; and Scott Thacker, Chair of ELFA Equality and Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation and CEO of Ivory Consulting Corporation.

Two interactive networking sessions gave attendees a chance to make new connections, exchange thoughts on hot topics in equipment finance and discuss takeaways from the various speakers. In addition, the conference platform offered a variety of tools that allowed attendees to engage with each other one-on-one and in groups.

Watch for more highlights from the Forum in the upcoming May/June issue of ELFA’s Equipment Leasing & Finance magazine.

To continue the conversation from the Women's Leadership Forum and connect with ELFA members in support of gender-balanced leadership and inclusion, join the Women4Inclusion LinkedIn Group at

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