Reno motivator launches women’s entrepreneurial development center |

Reno motivator launches women’s entrepreneurial development center

Susan Ackerman created Inspire Reno, the women’s entrepreneurial development center that officially opened Jan. 1, 2018.
Kaleb M. Roedel / NNBW

If you go

What: Inspire Reno is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening event, featuring presentations by special guests, live music, food trucks, and a tour of the facility.

When: 3-8 p.m. Friday, April 13

Where: Inspire Reno, 615 Riverside Drive in downtown Reno

More info: Visit, call 724-624-4543 or email

RENO, Nev. — Last fall, when Susan Ackerman entered the Lora J. Knight House, a historic mansion-turned-office building hugging the Truckee River in downtown Reno, she was struck with a vision.

She saw a speaker leading a workshop, as listeners leaned in attentively. She saw folks huddled around tables, networking over coffee. She saw a room full of like-minded people, brimming with ideas.

All women, all entrepreneurs, all inspired.

“I saw it — it literally gave me goosebumps,” said Ackerman, an author, speaker, motivator and entrepreneur in her own right. “So I said to the owner of the building that I wanted to lease the whole thing.”

With that, Inspire Reno, a women’s entrepreneurial development center, was born.

Gauging interest

Ackerman was given the green light to lease the 3,900-square-foot space on Dec. 15, and on Dec. 27, she held an open house to gauge the interest of women — of all ages and stages of entrepreneurship — in the Reno-Sparks area.

The response was strong. Despite announcing the open house only six days prior, and holding the event just two days after Christmas, more than 75 women walked through the doors of the Lora J. Knight House.

On Jan. 1, 2018, Inspire Reno was officially launched.

“Women are hungry for it,” Ackerman, who serves as director of Inspire Reno, said with a smile. “Reno has this amazing community of women who are ready, and Inspire Reno is ready to help them.

“It’s like we’re finding each other at just the right time.”

Focused on providing a positive, creative environment for women’s personal and professional growth, Inspire Reno features events — “The Psychology of Selling: Charging What your Worth” and “Social Media & Your Business,” for example — that are presented by community professionals and offered to the public.

But at the heart of the organization, Ackerman said, is its membership program, which includes mentorships, cooperative work and presentation space, social events, workshops, mastermind sessions and more.

Yvonne Derkx, a local business coach for first-time entrepreneurs, said she was looking for a place to be around “like-minded women” who were inspiring and empowering each other. She stumbled upon Inspire Reno and settled in.

“I was like, these are the type of people I want to be around, these are the type of people I want to be inspired by,” said Derkx, adding that the creative energy pushes members, like herself, outside of their comfort zones. “By being around these people, everybody is doing stuff that they’re scared of. So it helps you step out there. Because you don’t want to be the one that’s like, ‘No, I’m scared about this, that’s why I’m not doing it.’ Because everybody around you is doing stuff, it’s more like, ‘OK, let’s jump on the train.’”

‘Ready to play big’

And that train’s got a lot of momentum. To date, Inspire Reno has more than 50 memberships and a lengthy waiting list, Ackerman said. Memberships begin at $200 annually.

“Only being two and a half months old, I’m watching them grow right before my eyes,” she said. “I’m watching their confidence grow, their relationships grow, their collaborations grow.”

Ackerman emphasized that Inspire Reno focuses on the “Wheel of Life,” a coaching tool that helps one create balance and greater success in their personal and professional lives, whether it’s health and wellness or wealth and finances.

“We have events and workshops on every single subject within the entire wheel, so that women have a place to come and grow,” Ackerman said. “We want to be a place where we can help women step into their greatness and step into their power.”

Inspire Reno’s headquarters also includes seven office spaces that are occupied by a wide range of successful entrepreneurs — from interior designers and graphic artists to family therapists and nutritional coaches. Moving their operations to a building that not only overlooks the Truckee River, but also teems with a creative and collaborative spirit, wasn’t a hard sell for these small business owners, Ackerman said.

“I think that women in Reno are starting to come into their own,” she said. “There may be some communities and other parts of the country where women are already stepping into power, but from the women I’m talking to, it just seems to be the right time here. It’s like we’re at this new step-off stage and women are just ready to play big.”