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Inaugural women’s conference seeks to nourish Mid-Missouri women

Story by Madeleine Leroux
Photo by Sally Ince

Looking to provide Mid-Missouri women with a day devoted to their well-being, inside and out, Rebecca Welsh began planning for the first INSPIRE conference.

The conference, hosted by the nonprofit organization Welsh founded, HALO, is set for Sept. 14 and modeled after similar events held in other cities. Welsh said she had attended women’s conferences all over the country and wanted to see something done for the women of Mid-Missouri.

“We really don’t have anything like this and that’s why we wanted to do it,” she said. “Women in Jefferson City deserve it.”

Welsh’s organization, HALO (Helping Art Liberate Orphans), works to provide housing, education and healing to at-risk youth. And she’s incorporating the education and healing aspects into what she hopes will become an annual event.

“It’s just going to be a great day for everyone to fill up their cups,” Welsh said. She noted that many women struggle with taking time for themselves because of their nurturing nature and this event is the perfect way to take a break and re-energize. “If your cup isn’t full, you can’t fill someone else’s.”

The event will include three keynote speakers: Welsh, author Kim Becking and author Christine McDonald. Becking is a breast cancer survivor who is described on her website as a “change and leadership expert” who helps others “conquer change, boost resilience, accelerate success and achieve more in their business, life and relationships.” McDonald is a former victim of sex trafficking who struggled with homelessness and substance abuse and is now a consultant and motivational speaker. Welsh said McDonald lost her eyesight during a pregnancy where her options were to either terminate the pregnancy and keep her sight or carry to term and go blind.

“(McDonald’s) story is super powerful,” Welsh said. “Anyone who has ever heard her speak is like ‘oh my gosh, she’s incredible.’ We just thought it fit really well with HALO’s mission.”

The event also will include what Welsh called “strength sessions,” 15-minute sessions with experts in different fields, which she referred to as miniature “TED Talks.” These will include:

• Rebecca Rademan from Busch’s Florist presenting Beautify Your Space;
• Christy Kehoe Johnson from The Yoga Studio and Studio 573 presenting Breathe Your Best;
• Vera Schmitz from Dwell Differently presenting Feed Your Soul;
• Monica Harris from Brain Balance presenting Train Your Brain; and
• Angela Bax, a wellness coach, presenting Nourish Your Body.

In addition to the speakers and strength sessions, the event will include artist Carly Rae Robinson of the Carly Rae Studio and performances by Ladonna Ellis, a gospel singer from St. Louis. Welsh said Ellis will perform in the morning, before the speakers begin, “to get everyone on their feet and excited,” and again at the end of the event.

During a lunch break, attendees will have the chance to try food from different food trucks parked in the parking lot of the Miller Performing Arts Center and shop at a variety of different vendors. Welsh said a beauty bar also will be set up with hairstylists, makeup artists and massage therapists.

The conference also will include a few surprises along the way. Welsh said there will be some big prizes given out by each of the keynote speakers.

“We just have surprises planned throughout the day,” she said.

General admission tickets cost $50, and VIP tickets cost $100. VIP members will get access to a meet-and-greet with the speakers, a reception following the event in the Bella Vista Room at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 422 Monroe St., and more.

“We’ll have cocktails and celebrate the day,” Welsh said, noting that the conference is one way business owners can show the women they employ how much they mean to them. “It’s going to be a ton of fun, a lot of humor and a lot of just building each other up.”

Welsh said she hopes women in attendance walk out of the conference “feeling inspired to be their best self. I want them to walk away from it with tangible things that they can apply to their life that can make some sort of a ripple effect on those around them.”

All proceeds will benefit HALO, which, of course, is the main purpose of the event. But Welsh said she also hopes those in attendance will be convinced to start giving more regularly to HALO.

“Our biggest goal with HALO is sustainability so we can keep the promises that we made to our kids,” Welsh said. “Our goal at the end is to get women excited about giving monthly to HALO, even if it’s only $5 a month.”

Even though the first conference has yet to kick off, Welsh is already brainstorming for next year. She said she hopes to make it a two-day event and incorporate other things that may help area women, such as yoga sessions or self-defense classes.

“I’m excited about bringing together all of Jefferson City women from every type of job, every level, … every background, in the same room and show each other that we’re all here for each other and we’re all the same in a lot of ways,” Welsh said.

Tickets for the HALO INSPIRE conference can be purchased through Eventbrite. Find out more about HALO at

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