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Women for Economic and Leadership Development meeting tonight

Women’s leadership development group hosts event in Charleston; U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Frances Henry among speakers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) will host its first event today in Charleston to introduce the community, particularly career-minded women, to its mission, networking opportunities and unique leadership programs.  Approximately 125 women are registered to attend.

U.S. Sen. Capito

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) will speak briefly before Frances B. Henry, president of Fifth Third Bank of Central Ohio, shares her story she calls, “Building on Strengths and Staying Strong…while Sharing.”

The event is hosted by Georgette George at the Holiday Inn Charleston Conference Center in South Charleston. Networking begins at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m. A limited number of registrations are available for $30 at the door.

WELD, a national, nonprofit 501(c)(3), aims to develop and advance women’s leadership to help strengthen the economic prosperity of the communities it serves, said Barbara Smoot, president and chief executive officer of WELD. “WELD provides women with specific tools and skills to enhance their individual economic status,” she said. “We want to mobilize women to become active leaders in businesses, civic organizations and government by building programs, events and communities that support leadership development and business growth.”

WELD offers professional connections and high-impact leadership training to career women and women business owners. The program is a membership-based organization that helps women build community connections in authentic and productive ways. It is operated locally by volunteers supported by the national affiliation. Charleston-area women community and business leaders have joined WELD to launch this first event.

Dr. Cynthia Persily, chief executive officer, Highland Hospital, Highland Behavioral Health Services and Highland Health Center, has helped lead the WELD activities in Charleston.

“It is essential that women leaders support the growth and development of one another as well as the emerging leaders in our society,” Persily said. “The event will begin the process of formalizing a venue for women supporting women throughout West Virginia in their leadership journeys.”

Alisha Maddox, chief communications officer and co-owner of Charles Ryan Associates, said that WELD offers a unique opportunity in that it attracts career-minded women, but from a diverse range of industries. Maddox, a member of the planning committee, said WELD provides a social, yet educational platform for professional women to inspire, encourage and empower other women in the area. “Most women balance family, work and much more every day. We need to support each other as much as we can. WELD offers a perfect opportunity to allow women to learn, share and support one another.”

For more information about WELD, please visit

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