WISE Twin Cities Women of Inspiration
Date: Thursday, November 2nd, 2023
Time: 11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Location: The Mosaic - 817 5th Ave S, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Join WISE Twin Cities as we celebrate the female leaders in our community who are trailblazers in the industry leading the way for others.
Women of Inspiration recognizes leaders who impact their community and champion to advance women in the sports and events industry. Our WISE Women of Inspiration Awards Luncheon is dedicated to celebrating their accomplishments over a lunch of innovation and ambition.
Guests will be seated at mixed tables to meet new connections.
- 11:00 - Check In, Networking & Lunch
- 12:00 - Program, Keynote & Award Presentations
Women of Inspiration Award Recipients
A Woman of Inspiration is a woman who leads by example and inspires others to be extraordinary. She is a role model who inspires others to go further, making an impact across her company, community, and industry. Women of Inspiration recognizes leaders who impact their community and champion to advance women in the sports and events industry. We are thrilled to announce this year's Women of Inspiration Winners:
2023 Emerging Professional of the Year - Kara Gerke, Manager of Marketing & Communications, ASM Global/Target Center
Kara Gerke is currently the Marketing and Communications Manager at Target Center in Minneapolis. Her areas of focus are local media and promoter relationships as well as social media, digital marketing, partnerships, and venue branding. Kara’s professional career began in 2021 working as an Event Manager in Grand Forks, North Dakota following collegiate internships at Wells Fargo Arena and Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa State University Athletic Department and Lake Shore Country Club in Chicago. Kara has successfully marketed events like Justin Bieber, Zach Bryan, Roger Waters, 2023 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, Disney on Ice, and more. In the summer of 2023, Kara was recognized by ASM Global as a ‘Rising Star’ in the live events and entertainment industry. When she isn’t marketing or attending live events, she enjoys a good charcuterie board and a glass of red wine, going on walks when the Minnesota weather cooperates and spending time with her family.
2023 Changemaker of the Year - Erika Binger, Founding Director, V3 Sports
Erika’s commitment to equality and access to opportunities for all is what led her to establish V3 Sports. An athlete, Erika worked at the Jack Cornelius Boys & Girls Club in Minneapolis where she was the first female Athletic Director, developing and growing female sports programming while also strengthening and growing male sports programming. While biking the length of the Mississippi River to raise funds for B&GC, she was encouraged to try triathlon, subsequently earning many national and world titles. She earned her USA Triathlon Coaching Certification and launched V3 Sports to bring the sport of triathlon to underrepresented Minneapolis youth. She has dual masters degrees in Organizational Leadership and Biomechanics of Exercise and Nutrition and has been recognized extensively for her community work. V3 reflects her selfless commitment to urban youth; she knows God placed this vision in her heart and is excited for V3 Sports to expand via the V3 Center.
2023 Executive of the Year - Wendy Blackshaw, President & CEO, Minnesota Sports and Events
Known as a strategic alliance visionary and dynamic leader, Wendy Blackshaw has served as the President and CEO of Minnesota Sports and Events, the regional sports commission, since its inception in 2019. Wendy is a fearless leader who has built MNSE from the ground up. Her unwavering vision and deep passion for her home state of Minnesota have brought world-class events to the state, driving hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact for the regional economy, enhancing the state’s reputation and creating community initiatives that leave a lasting social impact.
Wendy is passionate about where she works and lives. An active participant in the Twin Cities community, she has been active on numerous boards throughout her career including the Executive Board of Special Olympics USA Games 2026; MNSE Executive Board; Mpls Vision 2035 Board; University of Minnesota Medical Discovery Team on Addiction Philanthropic Advisory Council; University of Minnesota Alumni Association Board; the Emily Program Foundation; and Alive ‘n Kickin’. Wendy was honored to be recognized as a University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts Alumni of Distinction and a Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award winner, among numerous other marketing awards.
Keynote Speaker - Anne Doepner
Anne Doepner is entering her eighteenth season with the Vikings in 2023 and is in her fourth year as the team’s Director of Inclusion & Employee Investment. In her role, Doepner leads the team’s diversity and inclusion strategy and works to implement employee engagement, inclusion, and learning initiatives in order to create a sense of belonging, with the vision of enabling employees to bring their best selves to work.
In her previous role as the Vikings’ Director of Football Administration, Doepner was responsible for matters of salary cap management and compliance with the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. She worked closely with the personnel department on contract proposals, negotiations and player budgets, and performed research and analysis to assist the club’s strategic efforts. She served as the primary contract negotiator for rookie contracts from 2017 to 2019.
A staunch advocate for women’s career and professional development, Doepner is a founding member and previous president of the Twin Cities chapter of Women In Sports and Events (WISE), which was established in 2017. A native of Saint Paul, MN, Doepner holds a BA degree in French from the College of Saint Benedict. She and her husband Aaron reside in Saint Paul with their children Alice (9) and James (7).
Emcee - Lea B. Olsen
Lea is a game analyst for the Minnesota Lynx and a television sideline reporter for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Bally Sports North. She also covers Minnesota state high school basketball tournaments. As a motivational speaker, Lea challenges athletes, coaches, and business professionals to rethink winning at all costs. Lea founded Rethink the Win in 2015 to help preserve a healthy environment for athletes to thrive in. She was also named to the 2023 Twin Cities Business 100 list.
Lea played basketball for the University of Minnesota before launching her sports journalism career and is the only Minnesotan to sit on the Board for Bell Bank.
To RSVP, click here and login to your WISE membership account. In order to secure your spot at this highly attended event, please RSVP by midnight on Tuesday, October 24th.
- $20 for members
- $45 for non-members
Parking and Entry
There are a number of parking lots around the venue, the closest are as follows. Street parking is also available, meter rates will apply.
- 400-498 9th St S Parking - $8 for 2-3 hours of parking, additional times/rates can be found online
- Kensington Lot | Lot #183 - $6 flat rate for daily parking
- Smith Garage | 409 S 9th St Parking - $6 flat rate for daily parking
- Centre Village Parking Ramp | 700 5th Ave S - $24 for 2-3 hours of parking, additional times/rates can be found online
Once parked, enter the building at the Finnegans Brewing Company Entrance. Immediately when you enter, there will be a corridor on your right side. Take the stairs or the elevator to level 2 and you will see the entrance to the event space.
Food & Beverage
We are so excited to partner with these amazing groups to bring a unique dining experience to our annual event. Learn more about our featured caterers below:
Women owned and award winning, Chowgirls believes that the most memorable events are those treated with love and care, leaving folks comfortable, happy and nourished. A proud leader of sustainable catering, Heidi Andermack and Amy Brown believe in taking care of each other, their staff, their clients and their community.
Owner Anne, fell in love with the power of food, culture and community gathering around long tables while residing in London and traveling abroad. After returning to Minnesota and becoming a busy mom of three young boys, she yearned to replicate the relationships she experienced in London and to also provide artisan pastries, breads and meal options for other busy families, professionals, and empty- nesters in the comfortable, welcoming environment at The Lynhall.
O’s Kitchen was developed and launched as part of a business incubator at All Square—a civil rights social enterprise. Founder, Onika Goodluck, began cooking at age 15 and has been energized by the culinary world since the minute she stepped in her father’s kitchen. Informed by her roots in Guyana, South America, Onika loves sharing her unique cuisine and food philosophy with companies and communities across the Twin Cities.
Your ticket for entry includes lunch and NA beverages. Please reach out to email@example.com with any food restrictions.