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Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith
April 26, 2016 : 6th Annual OUS Women’s Conference inspires, empowers
The Ohio University Southern Women’s Conference, hosted at the Ohio University Proctorville Center, gave more than 100 area residents an opportunity to hear from some top-notch speakers and learn from each other Friday.
In its 6th year, participants experienced first-hand lessons from activists and experts including Joan C. Browning. Browning was a Freedom Rider and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee activist in Southwest Georgia during the early 1960s. Browning recounted her experiences and she said that her participation in rallies and events have often inspired her. Browning said, “I encourage you young people to go out to speaking engagements.  You never know when you might hear a good nugget that will help you throughout life.”
Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith said that she spent much of her life worrying about what everybody thought about her – so much so that she felt sometimes it held her captive. Keith attributes her faith and belief in mind, body and spirit that helped her find her purpose.  The first female mayor of Ironton, Keith said that the position didn’t come easy, but said, “I know I was called to do this.”
Keith also told conference participants, “You are beautiful just as you are – believe that when you walk out of here today.”

Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith
Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith addresses participants at the 6th Annual Women’s Conference at the Ohio University Proctorville Center. (Photo courtesy of OUS student Jeffrey McClelland)

The conference, which was designed for participants of all ages, had an especially strong impact on Fairland High School student Jessica Bays. “I feel empowered after today!” Bays said. “I [am performing in] a play tonight and now I am inspired to do well.  Thank you Mrs. Phipps for bringing me.”
The 2016 Women’s Conference Committee included chair, Kristi Barnes, associate professor and campus program liaison for Psychology; Stephanie Burcham, director of the Ohio University Proctorville Center; Shirley Dyer, director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce; Evelyn Capper, assistant principal at Fairland West; Jodi-Rowe Collins, president of Citizens Bank and Viviane Khounlavong-Vallance, external relations director for Ohio University Southern.