Laurie Tokarz, president, Restonic Mattress Corp., will participate in a panel discussion titled “Broken Ceilings: Lessons from the Top” as part of the WithIt (Women in the Home Furnishings Industry Today) breakfast at the upcoming High Point Furniture Market.
“I’m honored to be a part of this panel,” Tokarz said. “When I started in this industry, this type of support didn’t exist. I so admire the efforts of WithIt — inspiring and supporting diversity and working to engage young people to join our wonderful industry. I hope that by sharing my hindsight, others can use it as foresight, to help make their journey a bit easier.”
Other panelists include Caroline Hipple, president, Norwalk Furniture; Melinda Whittington, president and chief executive officer, La-Z-Boy Inc.; and Maria Mullen, president, Hubbardton Forge.
Hipple will be the panel moderator. Describing the theme, she said, “When I was working on WithIt’s first board of directors 25 years ago, our goal was to move the needle on women leading major companies in the home furnishings industry. We hoped to ‘break the glass ceiling’ in all levels of organizations by offering our members leadership opportunities.
“I’m thrilled to sit down with these incredible women to discuss our journeys on the way to the top of our companies and what we’ve learned along the way,” Hipple continued. “We want to inspire the next generation of leaders to reach higher than they dreamed they could.”
The panelists will discuss topics such as visionary leadership, leadership principles, core values around leadership, and being a change agent.
“WithIt is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and the honor of hosting a panel of women of such stature in our industry confirms the importance of the mission of our organization,” said Amy Van Dorp, executive director, WithIt. “The panelists represent many different areas within the home and furnishings industry. Whether you’re an interior designer, an entrepreneur, retailer, or you’re in the corporate world, we promise, you will be engaged, educated and inspired.”
The event will be presented by Myriad Software, also a women-led company. It’s scheduled for Oct. 23 from 7:30–9:00 a.m. in the IHFC, Green Wing, International ballroom. Membership is not required to attend. For more information and tickets, go to withit.org.