Women Who Create™

Women Who Create™ Conference

October 24, 2019 (part of Women Entrepreneurship Week)

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. @ ISU Economic Development Core Facility, ISU Research Park

As women entrepreneurs create in Iowa, it’s vital to gather and celebrate those who prove they can start something, take the lead, and be successful. The Women Who CreateConference brings together women entrepreneurs, women business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, and individuals of all genders who support women entrepreneurs for a full day of workshops and speakers aimed at growing their business.

Iowa is a hotbed for entrepreneurs.  It’s important for women to grow their business in Iowa, as they have many ways to solve problems and improve our quality of life.  It’s our desire at the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship to build the blueprint for supporting women entrepreneurs in Iowa and beyond. We want to be the catalyst for women who aspire to start, grow, scale, or sell businesses.

Tickets are on sale NOW!

The 2019 conference will feature workshops and panels around topics, including:

Morning Calligraphy with Lauren Liz

Money Matters: Putting your Financial House in Order | Joanne Kuster

The State of Women Entrepreneurship | Megan Milligan, Tom Swartwood, Erin Huiatt, Kate Lyon, and Jenica Johnson

Marketing for Growth | Susan Fleming

Ideas in Action | Judi Eyles

+Lunch Keynote | Sarah Grant, Founder of the nationally acclaimed furniture, accessories and object art company, STICKS

++A Complimentary Portrait Studio featuring the talented artist, Jami Milne

Following the conference ending, there will be a community storytelling event to celebrate Women Who Create called SheTalks from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Join us at the second annual Women Who Create Conference this October!

Tickets are on sale for $59, with limited spots (open to first 50 registrants).

Claim your spot today!


Meet the Speakers

Lauren Gifford – Calligraphy

Lauren Gifford has blended her passions for hand lettering and videography by teaching women the art of brush calligraphy under the name Lauren Liz.

Find her classes online at ArtWithFlourish.com





Joanne Kuster – Money Matters: Putting your Financial House in Order

An entrepreneur and business writer, Joanne creates products, content, and programs for organizations. At 25, she launched an educational publishing business with a board game that reached audiences in 50 states and 13 countries. Continuing to carve a niche in leading others to build personal finance and entrepreneurial skills, Joanne brought Money Smart Week to Iowa and led the initiative statewide.

A native Iowan and alum of Iowa State University, Joanne has served on several boards and foundations, received awards for community leadership and been recognized as SBA’s Midwest Home-Based Business Advocate of the Year. As a first-generation college grad, mom of three and grandmother of five, Joanne understands how building financial skills at all ages pave a path to success. Find her financial stories on the Money Godmother® blog and RootandBloomForever.com.

Megan Milligan – The State of Women Entrepreneurship

Megan is the current President and CEO of the Iowa Center for Economic Success, an organization which helps people grow, strengthen, and stabilized their wealth.  Through education and resources, credit and lending programs, and advocacy and networking, the Center aims to help start and grow small businesses.  Work for Megan revolves around one singular mission: empowering teams to remain relevant in our changing world.

Tom Swartwood – The State of Women Entrepreneurship

Tom Swartwood is the inaugural Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and a Senior Lecturer at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Prior to joining the team at ISU, he was an assistant professor of entrepreneurship and Assistant Director of the Entrepreneurship Centers at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

He is also the founder of The Pointer Group LLC, a Des Moines-based small business advisory firm.  From 1985 to 2016 he was a Managing Director of Swartwood Hesse Inc., a New York-based investment banking firm that specializes in financing entrepreneurial businesses. He also serves as a mentor at the Global Insurance Accelerator, an innovative insurance industry accelerator in Des Moines.   He also served as chairman of the Board of Directors of Station 1 Records, a non-profit record label focused on fostering and developing independent music and musicians in the upper Midwest. He is the former Purser for the Jon Anderson White Riverboat.

Jenica Johnson – The State of Women Entrepreneurship

Jenica is the Regional Director for the Mid-Iowa SBDC which offers free business counseling services to small businesses and startups.  A graduate of Drake University and Drake University Law School, Jenica has worked in the entrepreneurial world for nearly a decade in a variety of roles.  In her spare time, Jenica enjoys organizing and planning events, spending time with friends, traveling, attending concerts and the theatre, and karaoke.

Erin Huiatt – The State of Women Entrepreneurship

Erin Huiatt is the owner of Des Moines Parent, a Certified Postpartum Doula and most recently the President of FemCity Des Moines.

Her entrepreneur life began as a hobby. She regularly blogged about her adventures with her young son and fun things happening in Des Moines. Over the years, Erin discovered the value of connecting and brainstorming with other women in her community through groups such as FemCity Des Moines. She enjoys meeting with other individuals to discuss how others may need help with their goals.  Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone connecting others to resources that will help them succeed.

While juggling motherhood, you will find Erin with her hands in many different projects including sitting on the board for the Des Moines Children’s Museum and the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa Associate Board. She is passionate about supporting her community and helping other organizations and businesses thrive in Des Moines.

Kate Lyon – The State of Women Entrepreneurship

Kate is General Counsel at C2 Development, Inc., an industry-leading manufacturing firm which she helped grow from its inception. She serves on the board of Ames Seed Capital, a local fund focused on investing in high growth companies that have a positive economic impact on Central Iowa. She also is a co-founder of Koloni, a sharable product company, and spends time advising small business owners.  Kate is a graduate of Iowa State University and Drake University Law School.

Sarah Grant – Lunch Keynote

Born in Rochester, New York, in 1953, is the talented and charismatic artist and mother Sarah Grant.  She was raised in Ames, Iowa, and is the oldest of three siblings.  Sarah presently resides in Des Moines, Iowa, and is the mother of three beautiful daughters, Rachel, Rebecca and Hannah.  Sarah is an abstract painter and the founder and owner of Sticks, Inc., a nationally recognized creator of artistic furniture, accessories and object art.  It is her adoration and devotion to a life filled with education, learning and creativity that has gained her national recognition.  Sarah holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Printmaking, a Masters in Printmaking, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Iowa.  Sarah Grant’s paintings and Sticks creations are represented in museum, corporate, private and public collections as well as galleries across the country.

Susan Fleming – Marketing for Growth

Susan has served in a multitude of startup marketing roles over the last 25 years, including work at Engineering Animation, Mechdyne, BodyViz, and most recently Vertex.  In the classroom, Susan instructs marketing courses at the Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University.

Susan’s focus is to help organizations amplify the voice of the customer in order to create better customer experiences. By designing and executing qualitative research that supports strategic decision making, her clients can uncover the customer insights that lead to success.


Judi Eyles – Ideas In Action

Judi Eyles serves as director of the Iowa State University Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and has been with the center since its inception in 1996.  Located at the ISU Research Park core facility, the Pappajohn Center collaborates with all of Iowa State’s colleges to provide both classroom and experiential learning opportunities for students while also offering mentoring and support to startups and small businesses.


Jami Milne – Portrait Studio

Jami Milne is an artist, photographer and writer located in the heart of no-coast country. With a background in advertising strategy and audience insights, her ability to communicate and find the spark within her subjects creates a unique and authentic portrait style. She has partnered on photographic collaborations with Ballet Des Moines, Des Moines Public Schools, dsm Magazine, Dwolla, One Iowa, Tech Journey and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and others. Her work has been shown in galleries in Iowa, Arizona, Vermont, California and New York City.

Her mixed media works, including collage techniques often combined with natural elements and suggestive undertones, take viewers down a creative rabbit hole of discovery.  Jami lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband Ben, children Finn and Margaux and rabbit Penelope. Find more of her work, including custom commissions at jamimilne.com.


Tom Swartwood and Terri Combs

For any questions, please contact Diana Wright: dkw@iastate.edu

Interested in sponsorship? Download the Women Who Create Sponsorship prospectus.