WACO, Texas (Fox 44) – The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce kicked off its Leading Waco Women series with Empowering Through Mentoring Summit on Wednesday.

The annual series provides professional development opportunities through half-day conferences, keynote speakers, panel discussions and networking. Each summit focuses on the three components of leadership – serving, empowering and mentoring.

The summit featured powerful women in the community, such as the Waco the police chief, the executive director of Creative Waco, and the Executive Vice President of Extraco Banks.

Their keyword for the day is “empower” – empowerment from the other women in the room and the things they are hearing.

“We all deal with things in our life that maybe we don’t necessarily know how to handle,” Chamber Director of Leadership Development Rachel Martinez said. “But there’s most likely somebody that has handled that in the past, and so, just getting an opportunity to walk through that with somebody.”

Waco Police Chief Sheryl Victorian is one of the women who spoke, with her mentees from the Houston Police Department. She says only 12 percent of women in the law enforcement profession are women. Three percent of those women are chiefs, and about three percent of the women represented in law enforcement are African-American.

“And I knew how important it was to make sure that all of the ladies realized what they could do, their potential in our organization,” Chief Victorian said. “And it’s tough being in a male-dominated profession, and then being a public servant during a time when people are angry at you.”

Martinez says this is an opportunity for women to be accepted for their roles and to be empowered.

“We are powerful,” Martinez said. “Powerful in the home. We’re powerful in the business world. But sometimes, we may be, you know, a little bit behind the scenes. And so, to bring that forward.”

Ascension Providence sponsored the event, and the president says its important for them to be a part of the community aside from just health care.

“Celebrating those leaders is just an example of how we can support the growth, not only of the women here today, but of future leaders,” Market President Philip Patterson said.

The series will continue this November, with a serving summit. In addition, the Waco Chamber will begin accepting Athena Award nominations this June.