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NORMAL — The Hearts at Home reboot is returning to its roots and planning a conference next spring for women at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center.

Hearts at Home 2.0 will have a conference entitled "Legacy: Gather-Grow-Go" from 4 to 9 p.m. March 15 and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 16.

"We are expecting around 3,000 moms for this conference," said Hearts at Home 2.0 Director of Operations Michael Tatonetti. The conference is open to mothers of any age or stage, and to women who want to become moms, he said.

"I am thrilled that Hearts at Home 2.0 can come back to Hearts at Home's roots in Bloomington-Normal," said Hearts at Home founder Jill Savage of rural Normal.

"I'm excited for a new generation of moms to have this resource available to them for the long haul," she said Monday.

Savage, no longer CEO of Hearts at Home, described herself as Hearts at Home 2.0's "chief cheerleader" and will be among the conference presenters.

Savage, a Christian author and speaker, founded Hearts at Home in 1993 and the organization had its first conference in Bloomington in 1994.

Within several years, Hearts at Home conferences in the United States and Europe were attracting 8,000 to 10,000 women annually, and the organization produced several books. Twenty-one of the 24 Central Illinois conferences were at ISU.

But Savage stepped down as CEO in December 2016 to focus more on writing, speaking and conducting workshops. In June 2017, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry shut down, citing declining registration at conferences.

But in May 2018, Hearts at Home 2.0 was unveiled under new ownership and based in Alpharetta, Ga. The new owners are Lane and Suzanne Phillips, co-founders of Georgia-based Legacy Community Academy, and Kathy Koch, founder of Texas-based Celebrate Kids Inc.

Unlike Hearts at Home conferences, which would feature a keynote speaker and about 30 break-out sessions, Hearts at Home 2.0 will feature seven presenters on the Braden Auditorium stage throughout the day March 16 and no workshops.

"Think TEDx for moms," said Savage, referencing the popular talks. She called the revised approach "simpler, yet incredibly impactful."

Savage, Koch and Suzanne Phillips will be among conference presenters.

An Expo Hall with about 50 vendors will open March 15 to conference attendees and the general public in the Brown Ballroom, and also will be open on March 16. In addition, entertainment is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 15.

"For those who have attended (conferences) before, I want to encourage them to never stop growing ... There will be something for you," said Savage, adding that for a new generation of mothers, "This is a day and age when we think we can get all the information we need online. When we do, we cut ourselves short.

"We need to step away, learn, and then go home with fresh eyes and fresh ideas," she said.

Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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