Madison County Black Chamber of Commerce Hosts Second Annual Women’s Conference | Local News

Darien Thompson was the keynote speaker at the Build up Self and The Women Around You 2022 women’s conference on October 15, hosted by the Madison County Black Chamber of Commerce. Thompson spoke about her journey from her hometown of Anderson to becoming Associate Director of Diversity Initiatives and Director of the Future Scholars Camp Business Opportunity Program at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

The Herald’s Bulletin

ANDERSON — Empowering women to make a difference in business and community could sum up the message of the Black Chamber of Commerce’s annual women’s conference at the Flagship Enterprise Center on October 15.

Darien Thompson has been highlighted as one of these women. During her speech, she said she thought sport was her only path to success, until her father lost his battle with colon cancer in 2012.

“When he died, honestly, I didn’t want to play the sport I had been in love with all my life anymore. I felt like I was missing a part of myself.” she says. “My dream was to get into the WNBA or coach. Well, clearly the WNBA wasn’t going to work, so basketball coaching was.”

During the last semester before earning her master’s degree at Purdue University Northwestern, she realized that coaching basketball wasn’t the way for her.

Thompson said she always wanted to help others, but didn’t know how to do it outside of sports. Her response came after a conversation with a man who would become her mentor and now her boss at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

Thompson’s coaching dream has finally taken on new wings and a new look. Instead of basketball, she would coach students for success as the Associate Director of Diversity Initiatives for Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management and Director of the Business Opportunity Program or BOP Future Scholars Camp.

The BOP Future Scholars Camp, she said, is a program that offers people of color the opportunity to earn a top-notch business degree.

When asked why she attended the event, she said she wanted to go back to where her story began and encourage young women to take the path to their “embodiment of success”.

Alerting people to available opportunities, she said, was the reason she returned to her hometown of Anderson.

“You don’t have to be a basketball player. I was a basketball player like that, but if I could go back I could just see the degree of success that went through that program , with students able to rise to incredible levels of entrepreneurial leadership,” Thompson said. “It’s really going to show you that there’s not just one path, there are many avenues.”

Betsy Pearson, one of the event organizers, said resources are more readily available than ever before. This conference is a way to draw women’s attention to these resources, resources that are mutually inclusive.

When asked how this event succeeded in empowering Madison County women to start their own businesses, Pearson said that every year she hosts an event for the Madison County Black Chamber of Commerce and with this, nearly 15 to 20 new businesses are opened, most of them women.

She said women have a lot to offer and should be given a chance.

“Give a woman a chance and she will make your world a reality,” Pearson said.

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