Women’s Center student associates and Brooke Gilmore at Take Back the Night. (image credit: Rachel Romeo)

This Friday, November 3 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., The Deborah L. Coffin Women’s Center will be sponsoring the Women’s Leadership Conference in the Dining Center and the Green Center. The conference will consist of multiple presentations aiming to celebrate the work of undergraduate women at SNHU and to empower other women to achieve their goals through self reflection, professional and personal skill building and action planning.

Students are asked to register for this event online before attending. Brooke Gilmore, Director of the Women’s Center, elaborated on the registration process.

“There’s a link on SNHU tickets. Registration is free, but we do ask that people register in advance so that we have a good idea about seat capacity in case we need to open up new spaces,” Gilmore said. “You can come and go as [your schedule] permits. There are options for each session [on the registration page]. You can just say [you] can’t attend this one, this is what I’ll attend in this block, et cetera.”

Gilmore also stated that the conference is open to everyone. “While this [conference] is focused on women’s issues and women in leadership, it is open to all students of all gender identities and faculty and staff are welcome, too.” She also stated that business casual dress would be preferred.
Registration will begin at 9 a.m. in the Dining Center Banquet Hall, and participants will be served breakfast as they prepare to start the day. The conference will kick off with a speech from Ashley Bendikson, a motivational speaker, activist and entrepreneur from the Bedford area of Massachusetts. She will speak about overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams at 9:30 a.m.

After breakfast, participants will have a choice of attendance between two presentations in the Green Center from 11-11:45 a.m. One of the presentations will be led by Kayla Page, director of the Office of Diversity Programs, in Green Center 102Am and it will demonstrate how to avoid being a bystander as well as how to respond to microaggressions in everyday life. The other presentation will take place in Green Center 121 where Dr. Darbi Roberts, executive director of International Student Services, will discuss what it means to feel and be empowered as a woman. In this presentation, participants will be led through a self-reflection process that can help them discover their own empowerment.

For the afternoon portion of the conference, participants will move to the Dining Center Banquet Hall at noon for a complimentary lunch and will be able to interact with women in leadership positions on SNHU’s campus through a student panel until 1:15 p.m. From 1:30-2:15 p.m., participants will again be able to attend their choice between two presentations being held in the Green Center.

The first choice is the Women Empowering Women Panel moderated by Sara Telfer, associate director of Alumni Engagement which will be held in the Green Center in room 102A. The panel will feature two alumnae, Myra Ortiz (Class of 2010) and Elyssa Alfieri (class of 2009) and will discuss the importance of woman mentorship and how to become a leader who sees potential in everyone. The second choice is the CourageSpeaks presentation by Amy Pettengill in room 121 in the Green Center. This presentation will use art and storytelling that aims to empower survivors of violence as well as the community to raise their voice against abuse.

From 2:30-3:15 p.m., conference participants will make their final choice between the last two presentations, also held in the Green Center. In Green Center 102A, Heidi Decelle, a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual, will speak about how women can find their financial independence in “Finding Your Worth: Taking Control of your Financial Future.” Green Center 121 will accommodate Dr. Dawn Sime, SNHU professor of Organizational Leadership, and her presentation “Leadership Skills that Advance Women in the Workplace.”

The day will end in the Last Chapter Pub with a Town Hall and Networking Social starting at 3:30 p.m. This will be the final opportunity for participants to ask panelists and presenters any questions they may have, while giving them the opportunity to make connections and network.

When asked why this conference is important to her, Gilmore said, “I think it’s a really special occasion to highlight our women on campus and some of the amazing work that they are doing and to help them develop more skills and more opportunities for growth so that they can really shine on campus. It helps create a dialogue around what women in leadership looks like and helps us identify areas that we can build up in order for our women to take advantage of these opportunities. Also, [since] it’s open to the rest of campus, attendees gain a better sense of some of the issues that women face in leadership or on their leadership journeys.”

Another staff member in the Women’s Center also wanted to share why the Women’s Leadership Conference is important to them.

“I just think so many people hear the word feminism, and they see women in the Women’s Center and they think it’s negative when it’s not,” said Women’s Center Student Associate Emma Schena. “I think that having the conference and opening it to every student is going to show people what we’re really about. It will be good for SNHU because obviously the Women’s Center is a great opportunity for SNHU, to have this kind of office on campus, but I think it’s going to put us more out there and show students that we are a resource for everybody,”

Emma, Brooke and the other members of the Women’s Center encourage students and faculty to register for this event and show support for women trying to become leaders in their environment.

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