Conference to highlight business skills, change

James Fenton

FARMINGTON — A conference at San Juan College on Thursday will spotlight ways businesses can meet changes in the workplace with humor, energy and increased skills.

The Four Corners Conference for Professional Development will hold its annual all-day event at the college's Henderson Fine Arts Center.

Motivational speaker Mark Matteson will give the keynote address at the conference. Matteson is the author of the bestselling book "Freedom from Fear"  and has given presentations to corporate clients like ConocoPhillips, Microsoft, General Electric and Honda. This year's theme is "Managing the Rapids of Change."

Matteson and lunchtime speaker Adam Milner, a Farmington native and robotics engineer and futurist, will offer attendees lots of ideas and laughs, said Nancy Shepherd, presidential advisory for community relations at the college and a member of the conference board.

The annual event began as a women's business-oriented conference but has since grown to include men.

The conference started when former New Mexico Gov. Toney Anaya presented Joyce Donald, then the president of the San Juan County Better Business Bureau, $500  to form a women's business committee, which later became a board of directors and received nonprofit status, Shepherd said.

Originally called the Governor's Conference for Women, it was renamed the Four Corners Conference for Women two years later. The group grew to include men after male business owners said they wanted to be part of the conference planning activities, said Melanie Lewis, a member of the conference board.

The name changed to its gender-neutral title about 15 years ago, said Shepherd, who joined the conference board when it formed 31 years ago.

While the mission of the conference board was initially to provide women business leaders affordable, high-quality training locally, its goals have now evolved to address business needs for all people, from professionals to start-up entrepreneurs, according to conference board members.

Shepherd said this year's conference will offer a cross-section of break-out workshops. Twenty presenters will lead 27 workshops that will cover topics like team building, conflict management, social media, customer service, computer software skills and emotional intelligence.

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

If you go

What: Four Corners Conference for Professional Development

Where: Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday

Cost: $95, which includes lunch. Keynote address only is $35.

More information: Call 505-566-3264 or go to