Women’s leadership group, InnovateHER KC wants to know about the strong women in your life enacting radical and positive change in Kansas City.

InnovateHER is a community of more than 4,500 women entrepreneurs, small business owners, activists, creatives, educators and civic leaders who live and work in the Kansas City metro and support each other, share resources, organize workshops, panels and programming surrounding leadership development.

Members all have the opportunity to attend workshops about marketing, strategic planning, networking and other topics that might help their businesses. The group also holds social events like happy hours and sip and shops, all meant to celebrate and connect women in leadership.

This year, founder Lauren Conaway wanted to do even more to celebrate local professional women and created the very first annual InnovateHER Awards.

“InnovateHER has created a culture that celebrates women and celebrates wins,” Conaway said. “We’ve been very intentional about creating this very positive environment and we wanted to take that a step further.”

Conaway said InnovateHER is looking for people to nominate two women who they think deserve recognition by Aug. 15. Nominations can be made in seven categories: Entrepreneur of the Year, Community Advocate of the Year, Civic Leader of the Year, Educator of the Year, Creative of the Year, Rising Star and Lifetime Achievement.

The Rising Star award is for women under age 30 and the Lifetime Achievement award is for women age 45 and up.

The awards ceremony will take place Oct. 28 at the Plexpod Westport Commons.

“We’re going to acknowledge and celebrate some pretty badass women,” Conaway said about the awards ceremony, which will include refreshments and music.

Nominate women here: https://bit.ly/InnovateHERawardnoms.

Conaway started InnovateHER in 2018 after feeling very alone working in male-dominated industries.

“My attraction to women’s equity and representation comes as a result of my own personal experience and how much I wished that I had someone to share my experiences with,” she said. “I wanted to create a place where women could feel at home, feel supported and championed.”

While the group targets women, there are not any stipulations on who can join and they open up their resources to anyone who may need assistance with their businesses or other professional ventures.

InnovateHER also has a diverse speaker directory and women-owned business directory. To access the directory or to be included in it, visit their website: https://www.innovateherkc.com/kc-diverse-speaker-directory/.

“Sometimes we as women have a really difficult time expressing confidence, celebrating our wins and asking questions and we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders in the professional realm,” Conaway said. “So having a space to come to, ask questions without judgments and get support from other women who understand parts of your journey, that’s crucially important. It helps keep you going and it helps to keep your cup filled.”

Join the InnovateHER Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/innovateherkc/?ref=share.

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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