Senior business administration student, Abigail Baranski, moderates WELD’s March panel

Women for Economic Leadership and Development (WELD) is a national organization based in Columbus, Ohio dedicated to empowering more women to become leaders at the top. WLU senior business administration student, Abigail Baranski, was the moderator for the 2021 WELD National West Virginia Panel for the month of March.

The webinar took place on March 31, 2021 and discussed the diverse backgrounds of the following women:
· Sarah Crouse, Manager, Suttle & Stalnaker
· Marlene Hackett, CEO/CEO/Principal Consultant, The Hackett
· Lauren Hersey, General Sales Manager, WTRF-7

The webinar represented Upper Ohio Valley, WLU, and Charleston WELD chapter regions. Mainly focused on discussion of each woman’s investment in themselves, the panel dove conversation about how their careers and communities have been advanced as a result. Baranski, the moderator of the panel, is a month away from graduating and here is what she had to say about her experiences with WELD.

Baranski joined the collegietae chapter of WELD in January of 2020. “I did it [joined WELD] to kind of help me grow as a woman and to get those connections. It really does give you that group of women that are successful and have that knowledge when you’re in the workforce. I graduate in May, so I wanted to have that connection beforehand,” said Baranski.

Lauren Heresey, general sales manager at WTRF-7 news, was a speaker on the panel and a co-chair to the Upper Ohio Valley chapter of WELD. According to Heresey, “there are a lot of leadership development personal and professional development skills that you can gain whenever you’re a member of WELD. Obviously, the networking piece is very important too because they’re [WELD] is creating a culture of women supporting women.” Heresey explained she heard WELD wanted to start a chapter in the upper Ohio Valley, which was led by Erica Storch with the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce. “Once it was established that we [upper Ohio Valley] were going to become a [WELD] chapter, I jumped on as the co-chair,” Heresey said.

Heresey shared information about the West Liberty collegiate chapter of WELD saying it was “born” after a WELD chapter was established in the Ohio Valley. The webinar hosted in March was created after WELD’s national chapter management officer, Deepa Keller, reportedly reached out to Heresey and Storch. “Deepa [Keller] who is at WELD said, ‘What would you guys think about doing a kind of statewide event featuring West Liberty, Upper Ohio Valley, and our previously established chapter in Charleston?’ and that is how women advancing W. Va. [panel discussion] came to be,” explained Heresey.

Any woman can take advantage of events held by WELD; however, Heresey encourages women to become members as being a member gives access to WELD’s nationwide “programming”. Heresey furthered her encouragement saying, “Your network is really your insurance policy and can help you get wherever it is you want to go. Being a part of this nationwide network of women business leaders, I mean, it’s a game changer. When you’re looking to get your first job, you already have these women here that raised their hands [saying] that they want to help.”

Baranski furthered Heresey’s words of encouragement for students to join WELD explaining, “I think it’s a great opportunity and I suggest anyone and everyone to join. You really do get those connections and I highly suggest getting those connections because it will help you in the real world and it will help you outside of college. I’m definitely going to stay a national member outside of school. Being a member has helped me already.”
According to Baranski, the organization is open to both men and women. “Men will and do get the same opportunities women get. When you become a member, you’ll learn about career opportunities, how people grew in the workforce, personal growth and personal brand. It [being a WELD member] will benefit all genders.”

Individuals interested in joining should know there is a $29 fee; however, if a student cannot afford the fee, there are alternatives. Hersey explained, “I believe a collegiate membership is $29. So, I sent in the $29 fee to sponsor a student. If someone doesn’t have the money, there is a pool of this scholarship money where you could still be involved without needing to pay.”

WLU students interested in joining WELD can contact Ingrid Loy at [email protected]. Women interested in joining WELD at the state level should contact Mindy Koeing at [email protected].