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SME Sioux Falls Women in Business®

Melissa Gilbert
2015 SME Women in Business

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center
 
Keynote speaker:  Melissa Gilbert
A native of Los Angeles, Melissa Gilbert comes from a long line of entertainers.  Her grandfather, Harry Crane, creator and writer of "The Honeymooners", was one of the best-known and most respected comedy writers in the business.  Her father, Paul Gilbert, was a respected comedian, actor, musician and dancer.
At the age of two, Gilbert made her on-air debut modeling baby clothes.  She then "retired" until age seven when she plunged back in, acting in more than thirty television commercials, including national spots for Crest, McDonald's and GAF toys with the late Henry Fonda.  In the summer of 1973, the nine-year-old joined the cast of "Little House on the Prairie", continuing with the popular series for 10 years.  "I grew up with wonderful people', Gilbert recalls.  "I learned professionalism from all of them and especially from Michael Landon.  He taught me fine points about camera angles, set designs, costuming, production, direction and LIFE."

When Gilbert was fourteen, her personal manager formed Half-Pint Productions (her character's nickname on "Little House"), which first resulted in the production of the Emmy award-winning MOW "The Miracle Worker", starring Patty Duke.  The company subsequently produced, with Gilbert starring, such well-received television specials as "The Diary of Anne Frank", "Splendor in the Grass", "Family Secrets" with Maureen Stapleton, and "Choices of the Heart", the true story of missionary Jean Donovan who, in 1980, along with three other nuns, was raped and murdered in El Salvador.

A variety of rich television roles continued, including the abortion drama "Choices" with George C. Scott and Jacqueline Bisset, the true-life drama "Without Her Consent", "Joshua's Heart" with Tim Matheson, USA's "The Lookalike", "Blood Vows: Story of a Mafia Wife", "Killer Instinct", "Donor" and "Forbidden Nights", the true story of the relationship between a young American teacher and a Chinese man.  In 1992 Gilbert made her comeback to series television starring in the Fox-TV Comedy "Stand By Your Man" with Rosie O'Donnell.  The prison-based series was adapted from "Birds of a Feather", the highest rated comedy series on British television.  Gilbert also starred opposite Ronnie Cox and Cicely Tyson in the NBC television series "Sweet Justice", portraying a headstrong attorney from a well-to-do Southern family.

In 1993 she starred in five telefilms including the highly rated "Shattered Trust"  The Shari Karney Story", the true story of a California attorney whose recollection of early childhood abuse by her father leads her to champion other incest victims and change the state's statute of limitations law.  Her portrayal and her own fight to help abused children were honored with a 1994 Inspirational Award from Childhelp USA, with which she has been affiliated for twenty years.  Her other work that year included such top-rated telefilms as CBS' "With Hostile Intent", "A Family of Strangers" with Patty Duke, "Babymaker:  The Cecil Jacobson Story", with George Dzunda, and USA Networks' "Dying To Rmember".  Gilbert also starred alongside her husband Bruce Boxleitner in Danielle Steele's miniseries "Zoya" and "House of Secrets", both for NBC.

Over the years, Gilbert has continued to bring such powerful stories to the small screen as Lifetime's "Against Her Will:  The Carrie Buck Story" with Marlee Matlin, and the CBS drama "Cries from the Heart", again with Patty Duke.  In December of 1996, she starred opposite Tim Matheson in the feel-good holiday telefilm "Christmas in My Hometown" and demonstrated her audience appeal by giving CBS their highest ratings ever for a MOW on a Tuesday night.  1997 saw her star in "Seduction in a Small Town" and "Childhood Sweetheart".  In 1998 and 1999 she starred in three telefilms:  "Barbara Taylor Bradford's Her Own Rules", opposite Jean Simmons, "The Soul Collector" with Bruce Greenwood and "Switched at Birth" opposite Rosanna Arquette.  From 2001 to 2003 Melissa starred in "A Vision of Murder:  The Story of Donielle", "Nora Roberts' Sanctuary" and "Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives:  The New Generation" opposite Farrah Fawcett.  In 2005 she starred in the highly rated hallmark Channel movie "Thicker Than Water". 

Melissa starred in a very controversial episode of the acclaimed series "Nip Tuck" and can be seen frequently in Hallmark Channel movies.

In feature film, Gilbert starred in "Sylvester", opposite Richard Farnsworth, from which she was selected ShoWest's Promising Star of the Year in 1985.  She was also honored that year when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, becoming the youngest recipient of such an honor.  In 2000 she did a cameo role playing herself in Griffin Dunne's film "Lisa Picard is Famous".

In 1987 she made her off-Broadway debut as a star of "A Shayna Maidel", earning an Outer Critic's Circle Award for Best Debuting Actress for her realistic portrayal of a young girl who escapes war-torn Europe but is later confronted by her older sister who spent tine in a concentration camp.  She also starred in such productions as "The Miracle Worker", "The Glass Menagerie", "Bus Stop" and most recently "Love Letters" at the canon Theatre in Los Angeles. 

Having fully outgrown the "Half-Pint" image of her "Little House" youth, Melissa has proven herself a successful adult actress and director.  In 1996, she made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed ABC after school special "Me and My Hormones", starring Marion Ross with special appearances by Bruce Boxleitner, Sara Gilbert and Chad Lowe.  Melissa and Tony Dow ("Leave it to Beaver") teamed up to produce the highly rated A & E documentary "Child Stars: Their Story", which gave an insider's look at the privileges and pain of child stardom.  Melissa's legacy came full circle last year when she starred as Ma in the national tour of "Little House on the Prairie Musical".

In 2009, Melissa shared her story of growing up in front of the cameras, dealing with a complicated family, overcoming addictions, and how she finally learned to move on in her New York Time's bestselling memoir, Prairie Tale

In addition to her acting, directing and writing career, Gilbert served two terms as the 23rd President of the Screen Actors Guild.  Along with her duties as SAG President, she served two terms as Vice President on the AFL-CIO executive council, as Vice President for the California Labor Federation, and as a commissioner on the California Film Commission.

During her tenure at Screen Actors Guild, Gilbert helped to create and pass anti-runaway legislation as well as laws to protect child performers.  Additionally, she helped to fight movie piracy and to implement many other worker and artist protections.  Gilbert also served as chair of the 2005 SAG Theatrical/Television Negotiating Committee. 

Representing the Guild internationally, Melissa Gilbert served on a panel dedicated to cultural diversity at the XVIII World Congress of the International Federation of Actors in Budapest, Hungary.  Among her many honors and accolades, Gilbert has received the Media Access Office Award of Merit for her efforts in seeking casting diversity, was on of Hollywood Reporter's "Women of the Year" for three consecutive years, and was recently honored with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award.

As an avid Philanthropist, Melissa is the President of the Board of Directors for the Children's Hospice and palliative Care Coalition and recently became the first-ever national spokesperson for The Partnership at Drugfree.org.  Through her work with the Children's Hospice, Melissa has dedicated her life to ensuring that all chronically and terminally ill children get to live and die with the gentleness, dignity and grace they deserve.  As a devoted mother to four sons and having had her own struggles with sobriety, Melissa's work with Drugfee.org allows her to provide parents with help and resources to prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children. 

Trade fair booths ($275) and tickets ($70) for the 2015 SME Women in Business event will go on sale after the first of the year.  Please use the links on the side of this page to order, or call the SME Sioux Falls office at 605-336-5626.

2015 SME WOMEN IN BUSINESS EVENT! 

Major Sponsors included:
Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield of South Dakota  www.wellmark.com

First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard www.firstpremier.com

Sanford Health www.sanfordhealth.org

Luxury Auto www.luxuryautomallofsiouxfalls.com

Midcontinent Communications  www.midcocomm.com

The Diamond Room  www.thediamondroom.com

Verizon Wireless World www.wirelessworldus.com

Good Samaritan Society www.good-sam.com

KELOLAND TV  www.keloland.com

KELO FM Radio www.kelofm.com

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Contracted evening Keynote speaker for the 2014 SME Women in Business event was America Ferrera.

America Ferrera

America Ferrera was born on April 18, 1984, in Los Angeles, California. Of Honduran descent, Ferrera was raised in the San Fernando Valley. She signed with a talent agency at 16 and attended the University of Southern California. She made her film debut in Real Women Have Curves, earning the Jury Award for Best Actress at Sundance and landed the starring role in the ABC series Ugly Betty in 2006.
Actress America Georgine Ferrera was born on April 18, 1984, in Los Angeles, California. Of Honduran descent, Ferrera and her five siblings were raised by her mother in the San Fernando Valley. She began acting in local productions at age 7 and signed with a small talent agency at 16. Between auditions, Ferrera attended the University of Southern California, where she graduated with a degree in Theater and International
Relations.

In 2001, Ferrera made her film debut in Real Women Have Curves, earning the Jury Award for Best Actress at the Sundance Film Festival. After several guest appearances on television and performances in such films as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Lords of Dogtown, Ferrera landed the starring role in the hit ABC dramedy Ugly Betty in 2006.

Her Story:

Ferrera was born in Los Angeles, California and was raised in Woodland Hills. She started acting at age eight, performing for school plays and community theaters. She went to George Ellery Hale Middle School and El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills where she played a small role in a school production of "Hamlet". From that experience she knew that she wanted to be a performer, and then she joined more school plays and community theater in Los Angeles. Her mom helped a lot for her career by driving Ferrera to perform since she saw the dedication in the struggling actress.
In July 2002, she made her first TV movie appearance on "Gotta Kick It Up" for the Disney Channel and she made her feature film debut on the indie sleeper hit "Real Woman Have Curves". Just like her siblings, Ferrera also paid extra attention to her education. She took International Relations in University of Southern California, and also studied in the American University Washington Semester Program in autumn 2004. Ferrera followed her success in acting when she played on "Touched by an Angel" and films "The
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" as well as "Lords of Dogtown". The young actress eventually received a 2005 Movie Line Breakthrough award in late 2005 after she appeared in the off Broadway play "Dog Sees God: Confession of a Teenage Blockhead" while she was attending New York University in 2006.

Continuing her success, she played as Betty Suarez in "Ugly Betty" in 2006, an adaption from a novel titled "Betty La Fea" in which she portrays an ugly woman.  Ferrera must wear old fashion clothes, curly hair and make up to make her ugly. She said, "It's definitely a costume. I wear a wig, I wear braces and glasses and exaggerated clothing, and I also bush up my eyebrows. But unfortunately, it only takes me an hour to get into costume, so I'm only an hour away from Ugly Betty myself!" For her role in "Ugly Betty", she won the 2007 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television series- Comedy or Musical, and has beaten other big nominees such as Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mary-Louise Parker. In January 2007, she won the prestigious Screen Actor Guild Award for Best Female Actor in a Comedy series for the same role. She also starred in and executive produced the poignant short film "Muertas".

Ferrera has been in relationship with Ryan Piers Williams since they were in college. William is an aspiring film director from Texas and was an assistant director of Steven Soderbergh in 2007. They first met while working on his student film at USC. She said, ''He makes me very happy. There's nothing more valuable than having someone in your
life who reminds you who you are, and he does that. I love that we don't need to be together, but that we want to. That was a really hard lesson for me to learn in high school. Finding and having a boyfriend in high school was the thing that made a girl feel worthy. In a good relationship, you can live without them, but when they are there, it's because you want them to be. I think that's a great lesson for girls. You have to love yourself before anyone else can really love you. I think that's the only real truth that I know."

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Highlights About  the April 30, 2013 Event

Keynote Speaker:   Elizabeth Smart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Smart_kidnapping

Elizabeth Smart

The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002 and her captors had controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003 after being held prisoner for 9 months. Through this traumatic experience Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and National legislation. Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which lead to conviction. Elizabeth is currently involved in the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation”, and she has helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions. Elizabeth is also a News Correspondent for ABC News.

Elizabeth’s abduction and recovery has motivated and continues to motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children’s safety. Emphasizing the vigilance of everyday people in finding missing children and the belief that there is always hope and we can never stop searching for each and every missing child. Two years ago, Elizabeth worked with the Department of Justice and four other recovered young adults in creating a survivors guide, entitled – “You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment.” This guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences to not give up and know that there is life after tragic events.

Elizabeth’s example and life now is a daily demonstration that there really is life after a tragic event. Her speech not only tells her story, but also discusses topics such as overcoming extreme adversity and not allowing your past to dictate your life's future.

Elizabeth is studying music at Brigham Young University with an emphasis on harp performance.

Lots of great photos from the 2012 event at: http://www.facebook.com/smesiouxfalls

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