Illuminate Committee Members

Meet the women who make Illuminate shine.

Illuminate Committee Members

Cary Heise

Cary Heise

www.designedforjoy.com

As the founder of four companies, devoted wife, mom of two, and committed volunteer, she’s kind of busy – but in the best way. Cary is passionate about helping women succeed in both their personal and professional lives.
Cary’s first two companies, a guide to family-friendly events in Raleigh and a branded T-shirt line, equipped her well to lead women seeking small business success. An eagerness to develop community, mentor women and create relevant, personal connections inspired her to found Vend Raleigh in 2011.
As Vend Raleigh expands, Cary will continue to foster the welcoming, warm, diverse environment that attracts more than 3,000 individuals and business partners to Vend Raleigh.
Cary recently founded local nonprofit Designed For Joy, a living wage artisan group hiring women at risk for trafficking and those living with food and housing insecurities.
Follow Designed for Joy and Vend Raleigh on Instagram
Amber Foster Smith

Amber Foster Smith

www.AmberFosterSmithPhotography.com

Amber is the owner of Amber Foster Smith Photography based in Holly Springs and specializes in portraits and personal branding for entrepreneurs.  She is passionate about telling her client’s stories through beautiful and meaningful imagery.  Whether that is designing impactful images for businesses to create a strong brand identity or heirloom pieces of artwork for families to cherish for generations.  Amber is also the heart behind The Studio : A Coworking Space for Creatives where she focuses on empowering entrepreneurs and small business owners through education and a space to inspire and grow their businesses.
Walking into my first Illuminate conference in 2015 I was terrified!  I walked into a room full of women that I had been following and admired greatly.  I was intimidated, I was nervous, I was overwhelmed.  I felt like maybe I wasn’t ready for this.  I quickly realized that each of those women where just like me.  They questioned their abilities, they questioned their dreams and often questioned their worth.  After becoming a part of the Vend Raleigh community I found that what made this group of women different is the way they lifted each other up and supported each other unconditionally.  I found a home and I found other women who had been in my shoes who could help me down my own path.  Every year since I have looked forward to the Illuminate conference as a way to recharge, connect and learn.  I always leave feeling inspired and empowered.  Being an entrepreneur is hard but with the community you find through Vend Raleigh you will always have the support you crave, need and deserve.
- Amber

Belinda Briggs

Belinda Briggs

www.BelindaLeeBriggs.com

 
Belinda is a freelance web designer who builds small businesses an eye catching presence on the web.  She began designing websites for Fidelity Investments back in the late 90s.  Pausing her design career when her children were small, she opened an Etsy shop to help pay for preschool. She refers to that creative entrepreneurship as “getting an on-your-feet MBA”. Now she uses those experiences to craft web sites and DIY web design strategies for small businesses and solopreneurs.
I’ve been both an attendee and a speaker at previous Illuminate conferences.  There is not better place to learn and no better way to connect than at an in person event with local women who share your goals and your energy. The topics are always relevant and the keynote speakers never disappoint. Take the time to invest in yourself and your business- you are worth it!
- Belinda

Billie Cochran

Billie Cochran

www.BakedByBillie.com

 
I am Billie the owner, baker and sprinkle lover of Baked by Billie. I truly love what I do and running a business. I have worked hard at finding our clientel and our niche in the area. Even though we can bake so many things, we offer cakes, cupcakes and donuts. Seeing the smiles that our sweets bring to so many people is what brings me true joy.
 
I am married to the love of my life and my best friend Jimmy. I have the cutest puppy ever Cashew. These two are my biggest fans and I love having them in my corner along with so many other wonderful friends and family.
 
I have been attending Illuminate for a a couple years. Each year I learn more about my business and things that can really learn to impact my business. From attending these conferences I have seen my business grow from things I have learned. Also I love meeting other girl bosses and networking with them. More importantly I love the friendships I have formed from attending Illuminate. - Billie

Noa Ronen, MBA PCC

Noa Ronen, MBA PCC

www.NoaRonenCoaching.com

 Noa is an inspirational speaker, Vlogger and Certified Professional Leadership and Business Coach. Noa believes that there is a beauty in being lost, this is where creativity and innovation show up fully and allow you to get messy, experiment and find your system. So when her clients tell her that they are lost she smiles and invites them to dive in. As an Israeli native her personal relocation experience brought her to recreate her life and career, and she likes to share her message on stage about getting messy, experimenting and daring through a time of change when we don’t feel very resourceful. Noa’s message is: “Daring is not about taking the action, it is about staying when you feel weak after you took on the action.” It is her invitation for you to make new choices about the way you lead your life with impact, creativity, and meaningful results. Impact involves getting long-lasting sustainable results while inspiring others to join you on your path.
 
I attended few Illuminate events, and for me, the Illuminate conferences, like its name is about:  energy.  The energy of an amazing group of business women and women leaders who get together to inspire, get inspired and touch each other’s heart and leave motivated to keep creating for the good of our local community. - Noa

Stephanie Llorente

Stephanie Llorente

www.PrepComm.com

Stephanie Llorente is the owner of Prep Communications, a communications consultancy that builds, maintains and defends organization reputations through strategic communications to meet client goals. Her company partners with organizations of all sizes that desire to increase their level of communications readiness and mitigate business risk by communicating effectively with audiences that matter to them.Stephanie has also logged many hours in PR agency settings on behalf of health care, technology, nonprofit and real estate development clients. A native of North Carolina, Stephanie is involved with multiple nonprofit organizations, volunteering in leadership positions to help meet organizational goals. She is currently the director of accreditation for of the North Carolina chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and a past president of the Raleigh Public Relations Society. She is also serves as the director of communications for Restored, a faith-based ministry for working moms.
Supporting women in business is a passion of mine. I was so encouraged after my first Illuminate event in 2016 to see female business leaders joining together to encourage, collaborate and learn together – dispelling stereotypes of cattiness and “mean girl” attitudes among ambitious female leaders. Collaboration over competition is truly at the heart of Vend Raleigh’s Illuminate conference, and that’s why I’m honored to participate and help shape this year’s event. - Stephanie

Grand Sponsors

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Lounge Sponsor

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Swag Bag Sponsor

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Session Sponsors

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Illuminate Partners

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Table Sponsors

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Special Thanks to

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Committee

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Supported Non-Profit

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