The Businesswomen of Muse

By Shelby

Here’s our first report from the 2016 Muse women’s conference, held last weekend in Bend. You can read a second one here.

The fourth annual Muse women’s conference wrapped up yesterday in Bend after three days of interactive salons, stirring onstage interviews, and captivating presenters, many of which revolved around entrepreneurs and business leaders.

We took note of a few standout businesswomen featured over the weekend:

Emily Evans, Women’s Foundation of Oregon
Executive Director Emily Evans is carrying out the mission of her organization through a research project on the status of women in our state. In addition to empirical data, Emily and her team will collect stories from women in communities across Oregon — including Bend on April 6 — this spring on a tour called Listen to Her. Early research yields staggering statistics:

• A third of Oregon’s single working mothers and their children live below the poverty line.
• In Oregon, female full-time workers make 21 percent less money than men, or 79 cents for every dollar.

Sarah Pool, Pacific Superfood Snacks
When she’s not inspiring TEDxWomen or Muse crowds, Sarah Pool leads Bend-based health food company Pacific Superfood Snacks, a certified B Corporation. On Saturday, she delivered a highly energetic, motivational keynote to Muse attendees. “We all face adversity every day,” she said, “but the biggest opponent we will ever face is our smallest self.”

This statement takes on more meaning when you consider that before Sarah started Pacific Superfood Snacks, she captained the University of California-Berkeley’s college basketball team, facing the nations toughest athletic competition. Sarah enthralled the crowd with both larger-than-life charisma and a down-to-earth message. She teased the crowd: “You wear a Superwoman onesie at home; it’s time you get out and be a Superwoman in the world!”

Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Iranian judge, lawyer and Nobel Laureate
Dr. Shirin Ebadi effortlessly commanded the attention of the audience during her onstage interview Saturday as she described Iran in the 1970s — a culture similar to modern America, where women had equal rights, and where she was a distinguished judge. Then with the rise of the Iranian Revolution, new governance began eroding the rights of women.

Dr. Ebadi spoke of how the government made many attempts to silence her, including seizing her home and her law practice and forcing her husband to publicly denounce her. In 2003, Dr. Ebadi was the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She now lives in political exile in London and is sharing her story through her new book, “Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran”.

Those three are just a small sampling of the presenters at the Muse conference.

Other noteworthy women include:
• Local Lauren Fleshman, runner, writer and co-founder of Picky Bars
• Oiselle Running and Athletic Apparel, led by Seattleite Sally Bergesen (and sponsor of Lauren Fleshman)
• Pro soccer player Joanna Lohman of the Washington Spirit
• Bendite René Mitchell representing her new creative company of the same name
• Deschutes Brewery Brewmaster Veronica Vega
• Bend Fire Captain Patricia Connolly
• Sisters-based hat maker Cate Havstad
• World Muse founder Amanda Stuermer

The annual Muse women’s conference brings together local women and teens with internationally recognized artists, authors, athletes, entrepreneurs, activists and social change leaders to celebrate International Women’s Day and kick off Women’s History Month.