Biz 417 Ladies Who Launch

Thursday, July 19 / 12:30–6 P.M.
Hickory Hills Country Club 


Designed to provide relevant content and engagement opportunities to women growing their careers in southwest Missouri, Biz 417’s Ladies Who Launch kicks off with a half-day leadership conference, a monthly e-newsletter and more, all guided by an advisory board from four local businesses that are at the forefront of championing women in leadership: Community Financial Credit Union; CoxHealth; Elliott, Robinson & Company; and Spencer Fane.

The half-day event features keynote conversations designed to engage, develop, grow and empower women leading 417-land into the future. Each ticket includes admission into the event, snacks, glass of rosé, hors d’oeuvre and subscription to Biz 417. Whether you are launching to the next stage of your career, launching a business, launching into leadership, or launching a side hustle, this day is for you. 



It’s more than an event. It’s an initiative. Sign up for the newsletter.



Connect with like-minded women in 417-land.


Set yourself, your brand and your business up for success.


Receive practical solutions to your challenges, concerns and questions.


Leave energized and inspired by stories from fellow female leaders encouraging you to thrive.


Get your day squared away at work and join us for an uninterrupted afternoon of engagement, development, growth and empowerment.
12:30 P.M. CHECK IN

Arrive on time to network with the fearless women in 417-land and snag your seat.


Your Courageous Career: Building your business to work for the life you want to live.
Speaker: Deb Feder, certified leadership coach and consultant Presented by Spencer Fane

Panel Discussion: Engaging male mentors to empower workplace diversity
Facilitated by Charity Elmer, J.D.,  General Counsel, CoxHealth

• Dr. Hal L. Higdon, Ph.D, Chancellor & President, Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield Campus
• Stephanie Sumners, Chief of Staff, Ozarks Technical Community College 
• Juan Meraz, Assistant Vice President for the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at Missouri State University
Presented by CoxHealth

Step Up and Step In: The power of authentically you leadership
Speaker: Julie Higgins, Executive Director of I Pour Life
Presented by Elliott, Robinson & Company, LLP


I Know How She Does It: How successful women make the most of their time
Speaker: Laura Vanderkam, journalist and author
Presented by Community Financial Credit Union 


End the day with a power hour to build authentic connections and a community of ladies who are ready to launch.


Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

Journalist and Author

Laura Vanderkam is a nationally recognized journalist and speaker who helps her audiences maximize each hour of the day and rediscover their true passions and beliefs in pursuit of more meaningful lives. She is the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, and I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time which is a time diary study of 1000 days in the lives of professional women and their families. She is a frequent contributor to Fast Company’s website, and is a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children, and blogs at

Deb Feder

Deb Feder

Certified Leadership Coach and Consultant

Deb Feder is a Kansas City-based certified leadership coach and consultant focused on helping leaders accomplish the right things, the first time without the sleepless nights.  Through her work, she focuses professionals on how to get the work-life balance they want by maximizing productivity, using advanced communication skills, and maintaining a clear vision. Deb is a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator, a program based on the research of Brené Brown. 

Julie Higgins

Julie Higgins

Executive Director of I Pour Life

Julie is the Executive Director of I Pour Life where she champions the cause and develops programs that work in the real world based on more than 25 years of experience as a successful entrepreneur. After launching local and national business she discovered that knowledge in management, sales, marketing, branding and networking are the basis for a successful career. 

Charity Elmer

Charity Elmer, J.D.

General Counsel, CoxHealth

Charity Elmer is a lifelong resident of the Ozarks and serves as the General Counsel for CoxHealth. Elmer considers herself very fortunate as there are not many in-house counsel positions in the Springfield area, especially in healthcare. She was drawn to healthcare because there are very few industries where you can be sure when you go to work every day, you will positively impact the lives of others. Her position at CoxHealth has given her the opportunity to serve on the Cox Medical Center Branson Board. 

Juan Meraz

Juan Meraz

Assistant Vice President for the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at Missouri State University

As Assistant Vice President, Juan works to bring a better understanding of different cultures to the Missouri State University campus faculty, staff and students and the greater Springfield area. Juan is also a graduate of Leadership Springfield Class 31 and member of the Springfield Public Entities Diversity Committee and Co-chairs the Public Entities Diversity Performance Measures Sub-Committee. Juan is also a fall 2017 graduate of the Harvard Kennedy Executive School Program: Strategies for Building and Leading Diverse Organizations and a March 2018 graduate of the Harvard Kennedy Executive School Program: Crisis Leadership in Higher Education.

Stephanie Sumners

Stephanie Sumners

Chief of Staff, Ozarks Technical Community College 

Stephanie Sumners serves as Chief of Staff and the Executive Director of the OTC Foundation for the Ozarks Technical Community College System. Previously, she served as the College Director of Development. As chief of staff, Stephanie reports directly to the Chancellor overseeing all aspects of the college with an emphasis in the areas of enrollment management, advancement, marketing, public relations, development, fundraising, governmental relations, grants development, and governmental relations.
Stephanie oversees both the Grants department and the OTC Foundation. As the Executive Director of the OTC Foundation, Stephanie and her team pursue the funding necessary to provide students with grants, scholarships and facilities conducive to the expectations of the college and area community.

Dr. Hal L. Higdon, Ph.D

Dr. Hal L. Higdon, Ph.D

Chancellor & President, Ozarks Technical Community College  Springfield Campus

Dr. Hal Higdon currently serves the Ozarks Technical Community College System as chancellor and serves as president of the OTC Springfield Campus. Prior to his time at OTC, Dr. Higdon served 13 years in administration with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He also worked in human resources and workforce training at Alabama’s Faulkner State Community College and spent several years in private business.


Alina Lehnert, Ph.D LPC

Alina Lehnert, Ph.D LPC

Lehnert Leadership Group, LLC

Alina Lehnert, Ph.D., LPC is a Leadership and Strengths Development Expert. She has spent two decades studying human behavior, talent, and leadership. She uses her deep understanding of these concepts to help individuals, organizations, and communities become stronger leaders, employees, and citizens.