SHERIDAN — To headline next spring’s FAB Women’s Conference, The Sheridan Press booked Elizabeth Gilbert, a renowned writer who has inspired millions across the world through works such as “Big Magic,” “Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Signature of All Things.”

The seventh annual event will be held April 12 at Sheridan College, bringing women from across the state and region to Sheridan.

In addition to featuring Gilbert as keynote speaker, FAB will include educational seminars led by regional experts on topics ranging from the tech industry to entrepreneurship and the arts.

The day will also include the FAB Woman of the Year luncheon, which celebrates individuals for their contributions to Sheridan County. The winners are nominated by the community and selected by the FAB committee.

“Our hope is to empower and recognize Wyoming women,” said Sheridan Press Publisher Kristen Czaban, who launched FAB Women’s Conference in 2013. “We are so thrilled to have Elizabeth Gilbert on board, especially since she already has a Wyoming connection.”

While a resident at Ucross Foundation in 2004, Gilbert wrote a draft of her bestselling memoir “Eat, Pray, Love.” Years before, she worked on a ranch in the Wind River Range. In April, Gilbert will return to Wyoming to speak about leading a creative life, which she defines as one governed by curiosity rather than fear.

Sheridan County is growing, and its residents are confronting a variety of challenges — civil discourse, acceptance, diversity, etc. As the community grows, Czaban said the FAB Conference aims to encourage neighbors to think more broadly. In recent months, Sheridan has experienced multiple incidences of racism. Slurs were left on the dorm room doors of Native American students at Sheridan College. Posters were hung around the city advocating “No more tolerance. No more diversity.” 

“If our community members can approach their differences with curiosity rather than fear, as Gilbert advocates, they can help reduce prejudice and bias while raising the level of public discourse,” Czaban said. “By being encouraged to seek understanding of other human experiences, we can all be and do better.”

In addition to the April 12 FAB Women’s Conference, plans are in the works for lead-up events that will include meaningful conversation and community. 

Sponsors who have already signed on for the 2019 event include Sheridan College, Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation and Ucross Foundation.

Elizabeth Gilbert will be the keynote speaker at FAB Women’s Conference April 12, 2019. Photo courtesy of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders