Vera Bradley co-founder to headline UF symposium

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida will host its 2017 Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium on March 30 in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. The featured speaker will be Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, the co-founder of Vera Bradley who currently serves as the company’s Chief Creative Officer and Director.

The event begins at 9 a.m. and is free for UF faculty, staff, students and other members of the UF community. Those outside the UF community are still encouraged to attend for an early bird registration price of $55, which will increase before the event. Seats are limited. Event guests may register online here.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, presented by the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center at UF’s Warrington College of Business, will address key trends and issues involving women in entrepreneurship, as well as innovative strategies for budding businesswomen. Inspiring entrepreneurs who have created a diverse mix of companies will share their stories and experiences. The event strives to empower and equip women to develop effective leadership skills and become successful entrepreneurs.

Nola Miyasaki, the Executive Director of Outreach and Incubation for the Center, said the event will serve as entrepreneurial inspiration.

“Entrepreneurship is more than just about starting a business, it’s about the entrepreneurial mindset, which helps women in whatever career they choose,” Miyasaki said. “Women start businesses at a faster rate than any other segment of our population and make a significant contribution to our economy. The speakers at this year’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium are role models for students as well as for those in our communities, and we invite everyone to join us for this special day. This will be a rare opportunity to hear from women like Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, the co-founder of Vera Bradley; to network; and to learn how to develop entrepreneurial skills effectively for your own advancement.”

Five additional speakers will be added to this event.

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard (Featured Speaker): Baekgaard is the co-founder of Vera Bradley and currently serves as the Chief Creative Officer and Director. She has provided leadership and strategic direction in the brand’s development since its beginning by providing creative vision to areas such as marketing, product design and assortment planning, and to the design and visual merchandising of the company’s stores. Baekgaard has received numerous awards including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the State of Indiana from Arthur Young/VENTURE in 1987 (awarded jointly with Ms. Miller), the Gifts and Decorative Accessories Industry Achievement Award in 2006, the Country Living Entrepreneur Award in 2007 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from AmericasMart/Icon Honors in 2014. She accepted the ACE Humanitarian Award from the Accessories Council in New York City in 2016.