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Resilient energy to come to Bay Path College

Maya Angelou Photo courtesy of
By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD Dr. Maya Angelou, Valerie Plame Wilson and Lynn Donahue will be the energy behind the keynote speaker addresses at Bay Path College for the Twelfth Annual Women's Professional Development Conference (WPDC) on April 27 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the MassMutual Center. This year's theme will focus on resilience.

"[The conference] was created to help women with continuing education and to further advance their professional development outside of the college arena and any profit that we make goes towards student scholarships," Kary Lewis, director of special programs at BayPath said to Reminder Publications.

According to reports Angelou is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature and a remarkable Renaissance woman. It is said that she gained national fame with her best-selling autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." She was nominated for the National Book Award in 1970.

She has authored 11 best-selling books including her current best seller, "A Song Flung Up To Heaven."

"It is different every year a lot of times we will find a theme and see who will fit into that theme," Lewis said. "We talked about resilience as a theme and hadn't decided on it. Then a speaker's firm called and said they had a good fit for the theme (Plame Wilson). Then it was decided the perfect person to close it out would be Angelou. The stars aligned," Lewis said.

Plame Wilson is a former United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer who held non-official cover (NOC) status prior to the public disclosure of her CIA identity in an American newspaper.

Her classified CIA identity was leaked publicly in a syndicated newspaper column, published on July 14, 2003, by Robert Novak, who identifed Plame Wilson, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, as "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" named "Valerie Plame".

The led to today's investigation into possible violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and additionly igniting a debate regarding journalism ethics. Her recount of her experience, under the working title "Fair Game", is scheduled be published (Simon & Schuster) in the spring of 2007.

Donohue was a high school dropout working as a bartender until she answered an employment ad for a bricklayer. It is said that while facing prejudice and great odds, she turned her life around, and before the age of 40, became a millionaire in the male-dominated world of construction.

In 2000, Donohue used her wealth and financial independence to create "Brick by Brick," a New Bedford-based nonprofit organization that empowers people to advance their personal career goals through inspiration, education and mentoring, and to pass their experience on to others. Donohue is also the author of a critically acclaimed book, "Brick by Brick: A Woman's Journey," which describes her journey from bartender to bricklayer to sole owner of her own construction company.

In addition to the keynote speakers, the day features breakout sessions, book signings, a vendor showcase, and networking opportunities. Each year, the WPDC attracts over 800 participants from all over the country and is one of the premiere events in the area. The Conference has also attracted leading area and national sponsors because of its continued commitment to relevant and educational topics.

Tickets are still available. The cost is $225 for Alumni; Early bird registration is $250 by April 15 and after this date the general and alumni cost is $300. To register for the event go to