2020 Women's Summit
The Winnovation Agency® is proud to host for the 2020 Women's Summit of the Lowcountry! The lineup for this year's summit is incredible! We looked for women who have excelled in their careers and have learned and executed innovative strategies to keep moving forward! We are happy to announce Elizabeth Millen, Lisa Sulka, Lauren Brown, and Melissa Epstein will be our keynote speakers!
Mayor Lisa Sulka has called the Bluffton- Hilton Head area home for 37 years. Born and raised in Prosperity, SC, a small southern town just outside of Columbia, she finished her higher education at Clemson University.
After college, Lisa moved to Hilton Head Island and started her own business, which she owned for 15 years. This business venture led to her relationship with Hampton Hall, where she was part of the original sales team. Lisa currently works for Carson Realty, a full service real estate firm in Bluffton, SC.
A Bluffton resident for 27 years, she and her husband John enjoy spending time with their children, Brannon and Haley, both graduates of Clemson, and Michael from Auburn University. Favorite family outings include water sports, crabbing and shrimping and enjoying the beautiful, pristine May River.
Lisa is involved with many boards and commissions, including the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation and the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. She is an Honorary Trustee of the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Classic Foundation, a member of the Municipal Association of South Carolina Board, and is Chair of the Lowcountry Area Transportation Metropolitan Planning Organization. Lisa is a graduate of the Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Foundation and is actively involved with the students in all of Bluffton's schools and is involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Bluffton's Advisory Board.
Lisa served on Bluffton Town Council from 2004 to 2008, running for Mayor in 2007. Lisa began serving as Bluffton Mayor in January 2008 and is currently serving her fourth term.
Elizabeth Skenes (pronounced Skeens) Millen is the founder and owner of Pink Magazine, which will celebrate 16-years on March 31.
Holding a Bachelor of Science degree from the distinguished Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, Elizabeth found the perfect way to marry her business acuity, creativity and compassion-filled heart in the creation of Pink and its mission to empower, inform, encourage and evoke thought. In addition to Pink, Elizabeth’s company also creates and publishes Paisley Magazine each month in South Coastal Georgia. Each market hosts the fabulous “Partini,” which is the largest ladies’ night out in both regions.
Elizabeth’s enjoys public speaking and has been asked to speak more than 250 times. She is a 10-year member of Toastmasters International, a former member of the National Speakers Association, a graduate of the Ty Boyd Excellence in Speaking Institute, and she chartered a Toastmasters Club at the Allendale Correctional Institute in August 2015.
Elizabeth’s community spirit won her the 2015 United Way Women’s Leadership Council Woman of the Year award. In addition she serves on the Board of Directors for Hilton Head Heroes and supports numerous non-profits through the magazines.
Elizabeth’s passions include beach walking, writing, inspiring, public speaking, cooking, wine, reading, music and laughing! She is the mother of two: son Conner, age 26, and daughter Jacie, age 21, who have both served tours of duty at the magazine, and neither ever let her edit their college writing assignments.
Her biggest passion, however, is empowering and inspiring women, and that is why she is thrilled to be here today.
Laurie Brown is the founder/owner of Aunt Laurie’s, a company that connects people in meaningful ways through unique handwoven gift baskets.
Spending almost 30 years in corporate leadership at General Motors and Volkswagen Group of America in Michigan, Laurie moved to South Carolina in 2014 and was inspired to launch Aunt Laurie’s to fulfill her passion for helping individuals with special needs. Aunt Laurie’s was awarded the 2015 Lowcountry SCORE Client of the Year, 2016 Bluffton Start-up of the Year, 2016 SCVR Contractor of the Year, 2017 SCORE National Community Impact Business, 2017 Hilton Head – Bluffton Chamber Small Business of the Year, 2018 SC Chamber Excellence in Workforce Diversity finalist, and 2019 United Way of the Lowcountry Woman of the Year finalist. She is active in the community, volunteers with Special Olympics events, founded the Lowcountry Ladies Luncheons focused on helping local women grow, and for the past 2+years is the Beaufort County Disabilities Coalition secretary and facilitator.
Laurie holds a master’s degree in organizational management, Notre Dame Leadership and Strategy Certification, and is also a SCORE business mentor and a Don Ryan Center for Innovation mentor. She and her husband are building a house on Hilton Head, have 3 dogs and enjoy golfing and traveling. Since 2014, Trapper the Wonder Dog and Laurie are a certified team through Therapy Dog International.
Melissa Epstein comes to us with a diverse background from the Garden State, New Jersey. Straight out of college Melissa got her career started in finance as a licensed Financial Advisor. Her entrepreneurial spirit took over though and she started a couple of businesses up north. However, Melissa’s passion for helping people reach their own full potential lead her back to the books studying tools and techniques that would do exactly that. Melissa is a certified professional coach, who has been trained in Energy Leadership. She is also an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, as well as, an author and speaker. Melissa’s work within the community back in NJ landed her as a nominee for the 2017 Young Athena Award presented by her local Chamber of Commerce. The award is international and recognizes women who display professional excellence, community service, and for actively assisting women in their attainment toward professional excellence and leadership skills
Sierra Pollard is an expert in Innovation. For the last 10 years, Sierra has made innovation her passion in life. She was one of 16 people to graduate from the nation’s first Innovation Academy at the University of Florida. After earning a B.S. in Digital Marketing and Innovation, Sierra learned from her experiences and moved on to start her first venture, a digital marketing firm: Ginger Media Marketing. She strives to create innovative social media and marketing strategies for small businesses to create brand awareness to attract new customers. Sierra studied at the European Innovation Academy, where she won a prestigious Sparks IP Award for the most creative and innovative intellectual property. She is currently studying at Virginia Commonwealth University to earn her Master’s in Product Innovation. Sierra will be the first person to earn an undergraduate, European, and graduate degree in innovation. She has a passion for creative problem-solving. Sierra spends half of her time on Hilton Head Island enjoying the beach with her lab, Bella, and the other half of her time is spent in Richmond, VA, teaching Product Innovation & Venture Creation at Virginia Commonwealth University in the da Vinci Center for undergraduates.
Sierra founded the Winnovation Agency for Women in Innovation. She wants to build a community that will uplift the amazing women who are actively creating, designing, and innovating within their fields.