Women In Business Leadership Award

Upon her retirement after 26 years at Illinois Central College, Doris Symonds wanted to share her business knowledge and make a difference in the community. Her personal passion for helping women to create and sustain small businesses—coupled with her ability to bring people together—led her to open her own business, T.A.L.K. (Teaching and Learning for Knowledge) in 2004. 

“It had always been my desire to create an event company where women could look forward to attending an event and find relevant small business resources,” Symonds explains. “I saw an opportunity to connect established women business owners with new entrepreneurs to communicate face-to-face, attend business sessions, display business products, procure potential customers and build meaningful relationships.” 

Every year since, T.A.L.K. has produced an annual women’s conference in central Illinois, with a curated lineup of speakers focused on topics significant to women-owned businesses—from branding, technology and finance to government contracting, networking strategies and much more. “The unique thing about T.A.L.K. was obtaining excellent local speakers who could present valuable information for a startup company toolbox,” Symonds notes. That includes representatives from financial institutions like Commerce Bank and CEFCU, local small businesses, and a range of networking groups, certified development companies, business associations, chambers of commerce and business incubators.

Doris Symonds, T.A.L.K.

From her earliest days as a budding entrepreneur, Symonds has a long history of involvement with Bradley University’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship. “[Director] Ken Klotz was my initial contact who taught me well on how to become a sustainable business,” she explains. “Under his guidance, I was awarded and honored the Women in Business Champion of the Year by the Small Business Administration in 2011.” 

Since then, Symonds has continued to build her reputation as an advocate for women-owned businesses, adding one-on-one educational consulting and mentoring to her suite of services. “As the company moves forward in 2021, there is a need to host and deliver video-conferencing for meetings, workshops, consulting and mentoring services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she adds. No doubt she will be there to ensure this niche is filled. talktodorisnow.com PM