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Mt. St. Mary's Women's Leadership Conference-2017

Discovering ‘The Resilient Leader’ within


One of the most dynamic women’s leadership conferences in Southern California, Mount Saint Mary’s 2017 Women’s Leadership Conference put the focus on resiliency this time around.

On Sept. 16, 2017, Mount Saint Mary’s University — the only women’s university in Los Angeles — hosted more than 400 professional women and rising leaders for “The Resilient Leader: Propelling Our Ability to Succeed.” The daylong conference included more than 40 speakers and panelists from a wide range of fields. Attendees had a chance to network and to learn cutting-edge strategies and best practices from leaders of industry at companies such as 20th Century Fox, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Mattel, MGM Resorts International, Michael Stars, YouTube and many more.

Danielle Harlan, PhD, opened the conference with a challenge to scrap traditional thinking about leadership. She knows well what she’s talking about: Harlan is the founder and CEO of The Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential, and she’s the author of “The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers Who Are Redefining Leadership.”

During her keynote, Harlan noted that the traditional “alpha” leadership model is all about high performance. “The ‘new alpha,’” she said, “is about more than that. The new alpha is still high-performing, but she is also fulfilled and focused on being a force for good.” Harlan’s three key leadership lessons boiled down to this: Be authentic. Be courageous and embrace failure. And be a visionary.

Resiliency was theme of the day, with speakers touching on bouncing back from failure, overcoming obstacles and practicing holistic self-care. Mallika Chopra, the founder of Intent.com and bestselling author of “Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy,” capped the conference with a challenge, too.

“Ask yourself these four questions,” she said. “Who am I? What do I want? How can I best serve myself? And how can I best serve those around me, my community and my world?”

Why a women’s leadership conference?
Established in 2012, 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.

The inspiration for this women’s leadership event is born out of the University’s Center for the Advancement of Women and Mount Saint Mary’s annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™. According to the University’s 2017 Report, women remain vastly underrepresented in both public and private sector leadership roles, including:

  • Women make up 22 percent of the California state legislature.
  • Women make up 19 percent of the U.S. Congress.
  • Women account for 20 percent of board seats at all Fortune 1,000 companies in the U.S.
  • Women serve on 432 out of 3,260 director seats in California’s Fortune 400 companies.
  • Among the 400 largest companies headquartered in California, only 4 percent have a woman serving as CEO.

Of course, those aren’t the only leadership paths to creating change. That’s why the 2017 conference focused on The Resilient Leader. Sessions and workshops focused on three aspects of resiliency: The Resilient You, The Resilient Professional and The Resilient Community, in order to help women build the personal and professional foundations they need for a lifetime of effective leadership and positive social change in the communities where we work and live.

The path forward
The 2017 Women’s Leadership Conference was presented by Mount Saint Mary’s Center for the Advancement of Women, which serves as a hub for gender equity research, advocacy and women’s leadership development. “At the Center, our vision is to find solutions to persistent gender inequities and work with partners to eradicate those inequities in our lifetime,” says Emerald Archer, PhD, director of the Center. “This is a huge task and we know that we cannot do this alone.”

To that end, Archer issued several steps for conference attendees — and for any woman interested in enhancing her leadership skills — to build on what they learned at the Women’s Leadership Conference.

  • Develop one actionable strategy to support women in your workplace that you can implement on Monday.
  • Follow up with at least one of the women you met here to consider how you can make a positive impact on an issue you both care deeply about.
  • Visit the Center for the Advancement of Women website to discover opportunities for you to become more deeply involved, whether that’s attending our public programs like the Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ research release event; our Ready to Run™ campaign-training program for women; or becoming a community partner and using the advocacy resources we provide online.
  • Check out Take the Lead. Mount Saint Mary’s University is proud to partner with Take the Lead, a national nonprofit dedicated to creating gender parity across all sectors by 2025. I encourage you to check out their website for more info, and to learn more about their Los Angeles based initiative called “50 Women Can Change the World.”
  • And learn more about all of our community partners, sponsors — and event speakers — who made the Women’s Leadership Conference possible! Connect with a group or a person who has inspired you, and see how you can contribute to their cause.

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 both women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world. msmu.edu

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