2024 Women in Manufacturing Symposium

The Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM) successfully hosted its annual Women in Manufacturing Symposium last Friday, March 8, 2024, at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia. This key event celebrated Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, highlighting the significant contributions, value, and future of women in the manufacturing sector.

The 2024 Symposium aimed to celebrate and recognize women’s achievements in manufacturing in Southwest Virginia while promoting the wealth of career opportunities available within the industry. This aligns with SVAM’s ongoing mission to shift perceptions about manufacturing careers and increase the number of individuals pursuing professions in this vital sector. 

This year’s event featured a keynote speech by Karin Lund, acclaimed author of Women In Steel, Women Of Steel: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, and President and CEO of G-Power Global Enterprises. Lund’s address set an empowering tone for the day, inspiring attendees with insights into the resilience and innovation of women in the manufacturing landscape.

A highlight of the symposium was the panel discussion, featuring women at various levels of careers in manufacturing, including Hope Jennings, Lean Specialist at Coperion; Shelly Wiseman, Materials Manager at Strongwell; Samantha Goldman, Multi-Purpose Operator at Somic America, Inc.; and Christa Glassburn, Chief Operating Officer at PBE Group. These women shared their journeys within the manufacturing sector, offering valuable perspectives on career paths, opportunities, and the unique qualities that enable women to excel in this field.

The event also served as a platform to honor the 2024 winners of the “Outstanding Women in Manufacturing Award” across various categories:

  • In the Administrative Support Category: Agnes Wright, Hitachi Energy USA, Inc.
  • In the Hourly/Production Category: Carolyn Caudill, SIG
  • In the Management category: Carrie Bowers, Strongwell


The symposium was made possible through the generous support of our sponsors, including Premium Sponsor, Virginia Highlands Community College; Gold-Level Sponsors: AM Training Management, Wolf Hills Fabricators, Ballad Health, Mount Rogers Regional Partnership, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board, EO, The Virginia Tech Southwest Center, Real Performance Machinery, Amcor Rigid Packaging, SWVA Apex Accelerator, Baker Donelson, Somic America, Inc.; Silver-Level Sponsors: Mountain Empire Community College, Brown Edwards CPAs, Luttrell Staffing, OpX Solutions, LLC, Appalachian Council for Innovation, Employee Benefit Consultants, Genedge; Bronze-Level Sponsors: Westlake Royal Building Products, SWVA Photography, and Blue Door Garden.

Nearly 300 attendees, ranging from women currently working in manufacturing to young women interested in exploring manufacturing careers, left the event feeling inspired and motivated. The stories shared, and connections made underscored the event’s impact, not just on the individuals in attendance but also on the broader community’s perception of women’s roles in manufacturing.

SVAM thanks all sponsors, speakers, panelists, and attendees for making this year’s Women in Manufacturing Symposium successful. We look forward to continuing to support and celebrate women’s contributions to the manufacturing industry in Southwest Virginia.

Here is what attendees had to say:

“The annual SVAM Women in Manufacturing Symposium celebrates the contribution of women in manufacturing in SW Virginia.  As a winner of the 2023 Outstanding Women in Manufacturing Award, who is not at the corporate level, I feel that is very valuable.  From the production floor workers to top officials, SVAM shows the levels of hard work and dedication that it takes to make manufacturing a true success.” – Bobbi Marin, Quality Data Specialist, Somic America, Inc.

“I went with the intention of networking and sharing about my organization, which certainly happened. I did not expect to enjoy the presentations as much as I did and find them completely relevant despite not working in the manufacturing sector myself.” – Joan Hawsey, Development and Volunteer Coordinator, Feeding Southwest Virginia

“Meeting so many women with the same determination for success within manufacturing in our area, so empowering!” – Violet Asbury, Hitachi Energy USA, Training Specialist

“The SVAM Women in Manufacturing event was empowering for those who attended.  What a great opportunity to bring together like-minded women who are invested in growth and wellbeing of the industrial groups they work within.” Caitlin Cook, LAT, ATC, WorkSTEPS System Coordinator, Ballad Health Rehabilitation