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Author Janice Kaplan closes the 2016 Women's Leadership Conference at Mount Saint Mary's University with a talk on "How Looking On the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life."

Amplifying the power of women’s leadership

The power of positive leadership is on display daily at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles’ only women’s university. That display was amplified on Sept. 17 thanks to the collective voices of more than 400 emerging and established women leaders taking part in Mount Saint Mary’s 2016 Women’s Leadership Conference.

Speakers from across the professional spectrum — entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, wellness experts, academics, and representatives from media, entertainment and politics — helped participants enhance their existing leadership skills and gain a better understanding both of themselves and of their role as leaders. 

“At Mount Saint Mary’s, we believe leadership can be developed,” says Rosalyn Kempf, EdD, director of Women’s Leadership and Student Involvement at the University. “It’s what we impart to our students every day, and this conference enables attendees to learn practical leadership skills, too.”

The conference began with an opening keynote by Liza Mundy, a longtime and award-winning writer for The Washington Post, a senior fellow at New America and a contributor to The Atlantic and Politico. She focused her talk on what successful organizations do to empower women in the workplace.

“When women are able to lead and achieve, everybody wins,” Mundy said. “When you have policies that make everybody feel like they’ve won, when women and minorities are not excluded, when you have a family leave policy that’s available to all and diversity policies that reward everyone, those are the visionary policies we need to make everybody understand that we’re in this together. This is about everybody benefiting.”

Throughout the day, a variety of seminars, interactive workshops and expert panels were offered to educate, motivate and empower. Topics included everything from negotiation strategies and strengths-based leadership to stress management habits and insights on the language of leaders. The conference also included a post-event networking reception.

In the day’s bookending closing session, Janice Kaplan — the former editor-in-chief of Parade Magazine and bestselling author of books such as The Gratitude Diaries — talked about the personal and professional power of gratitude. “When you’re positive to other people, they respond in kind. When you express gratitude, it comes back,” she said. “Gratitude and ambition play very nicely together. You can be appreciative of what you have right now and still want to achieve more.”

Visit for more info on the Mount’s annual Women’s Leadership Conference. Additional conference speakers are noted below.

  • Bryant Adibe, MD, chief wellness officer and chair, Wellness Task Force, at Mount Saint Mary’s University
  • Svetlana Raichel-Stivi, MD, associate clinical professor at UCI School of Medicine and medical director at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine
  • Patti Quintero, founder of Uma Mother, doula, prenatal expert and yoga teacher at YogaWorks
  • Kelly Primus, senior vice president at Leading Women
  • Kelly Kester-Smith ‘88, founder and president of Yes! Ventures
  • Betty LaMarr, founder and CEO of the EmpowHer Institute
  • Diana Means, president of the Alliance of Women Filmmakers and programming director of the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival
  • Keren Taylor, founder and executive director of WriteGirl
  • Theresa Tavarez, founder and CEO of Tavarez & Associates
  • Chako Fairbanks, co-founder, FarmBox LA
  • Joe McCloskey, co-founder, Helping Women Help Themselves
  • Alison Crossley, PhD, associate director of Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research
  • Erika Gallegos Contreras, program analyst at Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research
  • Megan Rene Sellers '12, senior creative strategist at Yahoo!
  • Natasha Case, co-founder, COOLHAUS
  • Freya Estreller, co-founder, COOLHAUS 
  • Alissa Finerman, executive coach and Gallup-certified StrengthsFinder coach
  • David Jordan, manager at TekSystems
  • Allison Myers, southern region director at StoryCenter
  • Shaunelle Curry, founder and president of Media Done Responsibly
  • Anne Moses, PhD, founder and president of IGNITE
  • Jacqueline Larios ’12, L.A. Department of Mental Health
  • Stephanie Mkhlian ’14, L.A. Promise Zone
  • Anestassia Yu ’14, Warner Music Group

About the Women’s Leadership Conference
Mount Saint Mary’s Women's Leadership Conference is a forum for women of all ages to enhance and expand their existing leadership skills. Attendees learn practical skills; gain access to successful leaders who share expertise and insights; and participate in sessions designed to educate, motivate and empower women to transform their lives, teams, organizations and communities.

About Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world.

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