Elizabeth Smart to speak at DSC’s Women’s Conference

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Elizabeth Smart is coming to Dixie State University Feb. 23 to inspire female students and community members with her story.

Smart, who was abducted at the age of 14 in 2002 and held prisoner for nine months before returning to her family, is expected to be the closing keynote speaker at the annual Mother Daughter Weekend and Women’s Conference, which will take place at the DSU Gardner Center Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As this year’s Ms. Dixie, Krissia Beatty, a junior business major from St. George, planned the 2013 Women’s Conference with the assistance of Student Life Coordinator Stefanie Higginson and Dean of Students Del Beatty.

Krissia Beatty said her objective for this year’s conference is to motivate Utah women to achieve their dreams despite any difficulties that may stand in the way.

“I really wanted the message to be that no matter what happens, or whatever challenges or adversity you face, it’s possible to overcome,” Krissia Beatty said. “I felt like Elizabeth Smart was the prime example of that.”

Del Beatty said Smart’s presence on campus was made possible by personal connections and relationships made through his membership on the American Cancer Society Board of Directors with Higginson’s mother and Smart’s aunt, who spoke with Smart about the possibility of visiting DSU. Smart then indicated any speech arrangements could be made through her agent.

“I contacted Elizabeth’s agent in January and negotiated a speaking event on our campus,” Del Beatty said. “(The charge) is substantially less than her normal fee, and we feel lucky to have her.”

Del Beatty said Smart’s regular rate “varies by event but is typically in the $12,500 range.” Higginson said the fee to bring Smart to campus cost roughly a fourth of her regular rate.

“This year a major portion of the budget went to covering expenses related to securing Elizabeth Smart as a speaker,” Del Beatty said.

Krissia Beatty said she was thrilled to hear Smart would be attending the Women’s Conference.

“I think she’s going to bring something that we’ve never had before…(and) she’s really going to change a lot of lives with her story,” Krissia Beatty said.

Higginson said she thinks now is a more important time than ever to “bring bigger names” to Dixie.

“I think with a lot of things that are happening at Dixie, especially being university status, Dixie’s growing up,” Higginson said.

Higginson also said she encourages everyone to come for the entire event, not just for Elizabeth’s speech, since the event will be a “whole day of great speakers.”

Krissia Beatty said she sought out the other workshop speakers through her own personal relationships with mentors and idols. 

The workshop speakers include Darci Hansen, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Elan Woman Magazine; Elizabeth Muto Hunterton, Executive Director of the Epicerean Charitable Foundation; Debbie Zockoll, an avid runner who has completed more than 215 marathons; and Elisabeth Bingham, Co-founder of Humanitarian Experience for Youth, a non-profit international humanitarian aid organization of volunteers.

Krissia Beatty said she wanted to collect “a variety of speakers to appeal to many different audiences that maybe view achievement differently.”

“If you want to go into the health field, or if you want to focus on non-profit success, service success or business, all of these different workshops kind of teach that and show there’s so many assets that you can have as a woman, and you can go into any type of field and be successful,” Krissia Beatty said. 

Krissia Beatty said she hopes the conference will act as an opportunity for mothers and daughters to bond, inspire anyone else who wishes to attend, and re-motivate people to make their goals and move forward.

“I just want [people] to walk away and feel very empowered and very good about [themselves] and where [they] are in life,” Krissia Beatty said. 

Additional details and a full schedule of events are available at the Mother Daughter Weekend and Conference Website: http://motherdaughterdixie.com/.