JACKSON — The State Department of Treasury hopes to educate and empower women toward their financial goals on Sept. 21 when the First Mississippi Women’s Money Conference comes to the Mississippi Trademart, free to the public.
Sara Kimmel, cash flow and economic analyst for the treasury, said State Treasurer Marshall Bennett came up with the idea for the conference after being stopped by a number of women who asked him for financial advice.
“There’s a need for this type of conference,” Kimmel said.
But what makes Mississippi so unique is that Bennett has worked with his department and with individuals from around the state to form not just a one-time or annual conference, but a foundation.
“I think ultimately he would love to see this type of program all across the state,” Kimmel said. “I think (the conference) will be a real good program, but it’s going to be a long-range sort of deal. It really comes down to an economic development issue.”
Dubbed the Mississippi Women’s Financial Education Foundation, the mission of the foundation “is to initiate, direct and sponsor financial programs and activities which will educate and empower the women of the State of Mississippi and their families.”
Rita Black, vice president and correspondent banks manager at Trustmark National Bank, is on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
“I feel like this is a great opportunity for us to educate and empower women to be financially informed,” Black said of the upcoming conference.
But women do not have to be involved, from a business standpoint, to benefit from the conference. The conference is for any woman interested in finding out more about retirement or their personal finances as well.
“I think Marshall is to be commended for his insight and then taking the initiative to organize the Foundation and hold the conference and, to be honest, the fact that it is at no cost is incredible to provide this caliber of speakers on these topics. I think he’s to be congratulated for that.”
Among those scheduled to speak at the conference are Mary Ellen Withrow, treasurer of the United States; Jean Chatzky, Money magazine editor; and Linda Gray, actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador. A host of local women leaders in their fields will present perspectives on business management, home and real estate ownership, retirement and investments.
Mississippi’s First Lady Melanie Musgrove is the honorary chairperson.
Chatzky, the opening keynote speaker for the one-day event, is excited about the conference.
“Women absolutely have to know hot to manage their money because no one else is going to be around to do it for them,” she said.
And women have the ability to manage their money.
“Investing doesn’t mean you have to build a portfolio of 30 different stocks. You can buy into a mutual fund. It’s deciding you’re going to do this and then actually making space in your spending life to free up the cash to make it happen.”
And it looks as though women may want to start paying attention to how to manage their money, considering that there are more women in the workplace today than there were 10 and even five years ago. There are also more women rising to the level of senior management.
“I think women are playing a larger role within the marketplace, and for good or bad this is probably something that women have maybe not had specific training geared toward.”
Bennett is looking forward to the upcoming conference.
“We’re excited to offer the women of Mississippi a top-notch financial conference,” he said. “This conference is for women in all walks of life — from the single mom who is struggling to manage a household budget to the recent retiree looking for information on investment planning. The goal is to truly make a difference in women’s lives by helping educate and empower them to become self-reliant in managing their finances.”
Highlights of the conference sessions, which begin at 8 a.m., include: IRAs, Mortgages and Managing Debt; Finding Balance in Our Lives; How Women in Business Manage Their Money; Money Management and Investments; and Lifestyles — How Can We Enjoy What We Have and Get What We Want and Vice Versa.
Women who wish to attend can call (601) 359-3600 or toll free 1-800-308-1997 for a registration form and for more information.
The first 500 women to send in their registration card will receive a free book at the conference, titled “Women Entrepreneurs Only,” featuring winners of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
Attendees will also receive a notebook packed with financial advice from participating financial firms, banks and investment managers.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Black said. “The more I’ve seen about it, the more excited I get. We’re very fortunate to have this opportunity. We’re excited just from that standpoint of it. It’s an opportunity for folks to hear national speakers at no cost. I know I’ll learn a lot from it.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1042.