Conferences empower women to define success

An alumna started Rebelle Con, which brings together professional women twice a year.

Temple alumna and Rebelle Con founder Shannon Siriano Greenwood speaks during Rebelle Con, a three-day women’s conference, in Richmond, Va. on Apr. 26, 2019. | SARAH DER / COURTESY

When Shannon Siriano was a student at Temple, she was the president of a student organization, a student worker and a dance team member.

Yet, she still didn’t have a clear plan after graduation, she said. 

“I don’t think I had a dream or a vision, I just thought you go to college and then you get a job,” said Siriano, a 2004 marketing alumna. “It’s what you’re supposed to do.” 

Her post-graduation job managing a chain of salons in Washington D.C. left her feeling burnt out, and she decided to start fresh.

Sirano started Rebelle Con, a three-day biannual boutique conference that brings like-minded women together to give them a space to learn from one another. Each conference discusses four themes: wellness, money, creativity, and community, and brings female professionals from across the country to present. 

Rebelle Con’s fifth conference is on October 17-19 in Richmond, Virginia, and will feature a new “Mentor Breakout Section” where female mentors of various industries, like beauty and television, will come speak.

Siriano started the conferences in 2017 because she wanted a space that was about personal than professional development. It costs $275 annually to be a member of Rebelle Con, and non-members can attend for $325 to $399. 

To make it more accessible, Siriano hopes to offer volunteer opportunities and internships to those who cannot afford the fee. 

She believes that it is the support and validation Rebelle members are providing to each other is important to the community theme.

Siriano wants women to create their own version of success, she said.

“That’s sometimes an act of rebellion so we wanted to capture rebel in the spirit of ‘I can do things my own way,’ but also ‘I can challenge others to change the way things are done,’” she said.

Her team tries to ensure speakers have diverse perspectives and backgrounds. 

Keisha Adrinka, a blogger and certified yoga and meditation teacher, will speak about wellness at this month’s conference.

“[Adrinka] was a yoga teacher, but she has a YouTube channel where she talks all about plants. She’s like a plant whisperer,” Siriano said. “She has all these plants and she lives outside of Richmond, in a place that’s not as open to yoga as I would think, and she was just so interesting.”

Janis Campbell, senior director of graduate student professional development, first met Siriano at the Center for Student Professional Development. She she said Siriano would be good in her role because “she was intense, but chill, which is not easy.” 

“Shannon taught me a different way to respond to people,” she added. “She was very good at responding to people who are anxious and nervous.”

Siriano has also inspired women who have attended her conferences. 

“Shannon is the type of person who radiates authenticity and for me, that’s the biggest way she’s inspired me, by bringing her whole-self with her. She’s not afraid to be real,” said Mel Stubbins, a Rebelle Con member.

“I always knew I wanted to be the boss, but I didn’t really know what that meant,” Siriano said. “I’ve always known I’m a leader and I’m most comfortable in leadership, but how that would translate into my actual career, I had no idea.”

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