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Women’s Leadership celebrates 30 years

Holly Hoffman of “Survivor: Nicaragua” reality TV fame signs copies of her book Wednesday during the Professional Women’s Leadership Event. (photo by Samantha Bengs)

By Samantha Bengs

More than 170 women gathered at Treasure Island Resort & Casino Wednesday afternoon for the Professional Women’s Leadership Event. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Professional Women’s Leadership Event gathered women from 24 regional employers.

Jean Renschen of Red Wing was named Business Professional Woman of the Year

The expo, luncheon, fashion show and keynote speaker promoted and echoed the day’s predominant theme of confidence, accompanied with the allure of a hit reality TV series.

Keynote speaker Holly Hoffman captively held the audience with her unique story and message. Hoffman, born and raised in South Dakota, was the last woman standing on Season 21 of the CBS hit reality show “Survivor: Nicaragua.” After returning from filming the show, Hoffman’s path led her to motivational speaking.

“Never let the odds keep you from doing something you want to do,” Hoffman said, as she explained being cast for the show from a pool of more than 100,000 applicants.

As she regaled the attendees with her “Survivor” journey, Hoffman made powerful connections that she wasn’t just surviving on a reality show, she was learning what matters about surviving in the real world. Hoffman shared props from the popular show, including her torch, which was extinguished on the 38th day of the 39-day competition.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending,” Hoffman said.

The swim coach-turned TV personality signed copies of her book, “Your Winner Within,” and posed for photos with many of the women attending the leadership event.

Her focus on attitude, determination, confidence, desire, faith and perseverance left an uplifting impression on the celebratory afternoon, they said.

The Professional Women’s Leadership Event is sponsored by Minnesota State College -Southeast Technical, StarTech Computing, Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce, Maurices, Q Media Group, and Express Employment Professionals.