On March 4 I’ll be spending the day in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the first Lean On: Alabama conference. This leadership and lifestyle conference for women seeks to provide attendees with the chance to build relationships with like-minded women while sharing their own experiences and learning from women who are leaders in their communities, in business, and in government.

The conference will feature more than 30 sessions on topics ranging women’s health, spirituality and faith to personal style, personal branding and entrepreneurship.

Lean On: Alabama is a non-partisan, non-profit organization seeking to bring together women of all ages through a statewide platform meant to promote both personal and community development.

Mary Lee Caldwell, the founder of Lean On: Alabama, got the idea for the conference and organization more than a year ago and then got busy assembling a board, steering committee, and student advisory council to support its creation and launch.

“I have been so blessed in my life to constantly be surrounded by strong women,” Caldwell says. “It started with my mom and my sister and my aunts and my grandmother. They were role models for me that showed me what it was like to be a strong, compassionate, capable woman. As I’ve grown older, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of women’s organizations that encourage and lift one another up – through my sorority, through service organizations, and though the Alabama Girls State program. I have seen the power that comes from women coming together and supporting one another. I think that if we can replicate that and give as many women as possible in the State of Alabama the opportunity to connect with larger groups of women, we will change lives, our communities, and our state.”

The organizers hope to make the conference a biannual event and to host smaller regional events during the off years.

“I’m just excited about the opportunities that can come from our conference,” Caldwell says. “I’m excited to see where Lean On: Alabama can go. We have incredible women coming that are going to share their knowledge, experiences and stories with us. I can’t wait to see what our participants can do with this. We may not see the true impact of this until years or decades later, but relationships are going to be formed that will impact people lives and can change our state immeasurably.”


Check out a list of featured speakers here, which includes Birmingham-based blogger Alexis Barton of SameChicDifferentDay.com.

The conference will also mark the launch of Iris Circles, small, inter-generational groups of women that will be established in communities across Alabama and will gather for fellowship, collaboration, and support. Women who are interested in leading a circle should visit leanonalabama.com/iris-circles.

The Lean On: Alabama lifestyle and leadership conference will be held Saturday, March 4 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Ferguson Student Center on the campus of The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Today is the final day of early bird pricing, $40 and $30 for students, but tickets will be available until the day of the conference. Register and get more information at LeanOnAlabama.com.