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SHE Panel aims to empower Sumter women

Four Sumter businesswomen spoke at the See Her Empowered panel, hosted by the Sumter Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

SUMTER, S.C. — See Her Empowered aims to give a voice and provide community to women in Sumter. On Wednesday, four female community leaders spoke on the SHE Panel at Alice Drive Baptist Church: Michelle Logan-Owens, Danielle Thompson, Ieshia Farmer and Stephanie Dowling.

"There’s a movement really going on in Sumter," said panelist Ieshia Farmer.

Farmer spoke alongside three other female business leaders in the community, like Michelle Logan-Owens, about what it means to be a woman in the workforce.

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"It’s disappointing that we’re in 2022 and we’re still having to have conversations about gender equality in the workplace, but it is a real challenge that we face each day," Logan-Owens continued. "So I think we all have an obligation to bridge the path or create the path for our daughters to come along so they don’t have to face some of the same struggles we have."

Kim Hatchell serves as board chair for SHE. About a year ago, she and other members came up with the idea.

"Women have unique needs in the workforce and really even in personal lives. We have a lot more to balance and we need support from each other," Hatchell explained.

This panel was the first in a series that will be hosted by the Sumter Chamber of Commerce. Ida Soloman is a Sumter resident who attended the event.

"I think every woman here has been left with something that will inspire her to go to the next level," Soloman said.

Panel moderator Erika Williams agrees.

"For such a huge turnout for the community, I think it’s dynamic and it speaks volumes about the thirst for information here, the thirst for women to grow and blossom in their businesses and their respective areas because they want more, they need more, they want to do more," Williams said.

"It’s very exciting that women want to be heard, that women want to do, and women want to be a part of our community," panelist Danielle Thompson added.

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Mariah McKellar came to the panel after a friend invited her. She said it was encouraging to see so many people in attendance.

"The speakers were fantastic and a lot of them were Sumter natives, so it was really good to see people that we know and how they are involved in the community here," McKellar explained.

Logan-Owens said Wednesday's event is just part of starting the conversation of seeing more female leaders throughout the area.

"I think that we have a tremendous opportunity in the Sumter community and beyond to say ‘How do we take our place at the table to really influence not only the next generation of future leaders, but also the workplace as it stands today?" she posed.

Hatchell says the next SHE Panel is planned for December.

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