Inspired by IMA’s highly successful global women’s leadership series, IMA’s Platte Valley Chapter in Nebraska held its own, first-ever women’s leadership meeting this spring. The half-day event, titled “Learn to Create Your Path to Leadership,” attracted a capacity crowd of 90 women (and men) from the surrounding area and provided inspiration for many IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) members and non-IMA members alike.

The program, held on the morning of May 11, provided two hours of continuing professional education (CPE) for sessions on:

  • “Our Ethics Stories and Strategies for Success” – A panel of four accomplished women discussed some of the ethical dilemmas they have encountered in their careers and the strategies they used to address them. Panelists included Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., Catherine Lang, Kimberly Thomas, and Sue Weiler-Doke.
  • “Sharing Pearls of Professional Wisdom” – The four panelists also offered their insights, experiences, and advice about challenges faced by women throughout their careers.
Speaker Kimberly Thomas shares her insights with the capacity crowd of attendees.
Speaker Kimberly Thomas shares her insights with the capacity crowd of attendees.

The final portion of the morning featured a presentation honoring Susan Eldridge, Ph.D., a visionary leader in education and professional development in Nebraska.

Roopa Venkatesh (on left) presents the leadership award to Susan Eldridge.
Roopa Venkatesh (on left) presents the leadership award to Susan Eldridge.

Spearheading the entire effort was Roopa Venkatesh, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and current president of the Platte Valley Chapter. With support from her chapter board, Venkatesh helped to recruit the speakers, find the sponsors, prepare and print all the promotional materials, and coordinate the on-site event.

Discussing what prompted her to take on such an undertaking, Venkatesh says, “I was so inspired by the IMA women’s leadership events that have been happening and I thought to myself, ‘We can put something like that on, too.'”

Fortunately, Venkatesh enjoys some excellent contacts in the area. She was able to attract some impressive sponsors, including Mutual of Omaha, the Omaha Public Power District, Germany-based CLAAS, the SEC Professionals Group, and academic institutions in Nebraska.

Pulling off an event like this wasn’t easy, and Venkatesh has some advice to share:

  • Take the initiative and lead by example
  • Plan ahead – even a year ahead
  • Create a schedule and stick to it
  • Get good speakers

“Speakers are probably the most important element,” she notes. Fortunately, Venkatesh was able to assemble an accomplished group of professionals for this event: Kracher is the executive director/CEO of the Business Ethics Alliance; Catherine Lang is the state director of the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; Kimberly Thomas is deputy chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha district; and Sue Weiler-Doke is a sustainable growth business consultant.

“It was a quite a success, and I’m looking forward to doing it again,” Venkatesh says. “It was well worth the effort. We delivered something of value to the community (IMA members and non-members) in Nebraska and helped contribute to the profession at the same time."

More information on the Platte Valley Chapter can be found at