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New La Crosse event focuses on empowering female leaders



In an effort to encourage more women to pursue leadership roles, the La Crosse Area Chamber hosted the first Leadercast Women event.

More than 190 women and a few men gathered in La Crosse on Friday for Leadercast. Vicki Markussen, chamber of commerce CEO, said the event showed progress and forward-thinking in the community.

“We have businesses who have shown support for this event, and there are more businesses who want to come on board for next year,”Markussen said. “I see this really growing for our area, which is a great statement for our businesses who want to grow our women in leadership.”

Not only was Leadercast Women the first event in Wisconsin, but it was the only event of its kind for 100 miles, according to Markussen. She said it was necessary to host because women typically think differently than men.

“Oftentimes, we put ourselves last,” Markussen said. “It is an opportunity to say, ‘Stop doing that. Start being courageous and taking those next steps.’ A lot of times, women will see a job description and say, ‘I don’t qualify.’ Men will say, ‘I don’t qualify, but I’ll figure it out.’

She added the men in the audience were important to help strengthen their cause.

“The men that are here obviously understand that there is a viewpoint that women should be encouraged even as they are leaders, encouraging them to come to the table and to speak up,” Markussen said. “That is what this is all about. It is great to see men here.”

Markussen hoped to make Leadercast Women an annual event.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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