Fulfilling needs

At 8 a.m. today, online registration will open for one of the university’s most popular events. By noon, it is expected to be filled. 

No. it’s not an athletic event, a lecture by a visiting scholar or a popular concert. It’s the Women’s Leadership Institute, a daylong conference of professional and personal development offerings that will take place April 27. 

Launched in 2003 by the Provost Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues, the Women’s Leadership Institute has become the largest annual women’s leadership event in higher education in South Carolina. More than 420 women are expected to attend the institute at the Russell House University Union. The event is free and includes a light breakfast and lunch. Registration is available online

Themed “Fulfilling Needs,” this year’s event will feature 25 concurrent sessions that address topics on leadership, health and wellness, women entrepreneurship, organization and skill-building, communication and social media, diversity and inclusion, gendered policies in the workplace, career advancement, balancing work and life, caring for the elderly, mentoring, networking and yoga. 

Provost Joan Gabel will deliver the morning keynote address and Kirk Randazzo, director of the Carolina Leadership Initiative, will give an afternoon address, titled “Leadership in 3D.” The luncheon speaker will be Nathan Strong from the Division of Human Resources, whose presentation, titled “Networking on Steroids: A Reciprocity Web,” will give participants the tools to leave any meeting or gathering with inspiring ideas and meaningful connections.

Mary Alexander, assistant provost for academic administration, has been at the helm of the Women’s Leadership Institute since 2011, overseeing a 15-member committee. Under her leadership, the Women’s Leadership Institute has grown from 40 to 400 participants and has expanded to a full day of programming. 

“I have passion for promoting women in leadership positions at all stages in their journey,” Alexander says. “The Women’s Leadership Institute is all about helping women in higher education reach their goals professionally and personally.” 

Marguerite O’Brien, director of campus wellness, calls the Women’s Leadership Institute, “the highlight of my year.”  Terrie Morrison, director of technology services in university housing, agrees, calling it is “one of the best opportunities offered to staff on campus.” Chemistry professor Natalia Shustova described last year’s event as having impressive attendance and an amazing atmosphere. 

This year's event coincides with Denim Day, an international campaign to raise awareness about rape and sexual assault.

For more information about the 13th annual Women’s Leadership Conference, email Mary Alexander.

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