The Future is NOW for Diversity Business Leaders

The Future is NOW! Developing Leaders for a Promising Tomorrow, was the theme of this year’s Diversity Women Business Leadership Conference, and once again Dr. Sheila Robinson and her team at Diversity Woman Media exceeded all expectations for the annual event. While conference hosts around the world have struggled, postponed, and lost out to social distancing since the arrival of COVID-19, Diversity Woman Media has pivoted to provide online expertise and inspiration to guide a diverse group of women (and men) forward, above and beyond the limitations of a worldwide pandemic, and all apparent technological challenges for two years. This year – with Crystal Harkless as Conference Director – the organization has pivoted again to prove you can have it both ways, with an extraordinary array of speakers live at the Gaylord Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, and online to shout out loud how we can emerge with fresh ideas, directions, and strategies to claim our place amidst the shifting tides of today’s business world.

After the opening reception and Tuesday night concert, Wednesday morning buzzed with excitement. During the opening remarks and welcomes Pamela Everhart, Senior VP for Fidelity Investments, asked attendees if they were “looking to be wowed” when she introduced Carla Harris, Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, author of the new book, Lead to Win, and gospel singer with five sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall. Carla borrowed highlights from her new book and declared that “the antidote for resignation is leadership.” In fact, she said that she calls what happened during the pause that was COVID, “the Great Contemplation,” not the Great Resignation. She said that people found new meaning in the last two-and-a-half years. Since nobody has the playbook for what is going on right now, Carla said we get to write our own. She went on to describe her eight pearls of wisdom for successful leadership: homing in on being authentic to build trust, delivering over and over again, and especially valuing yourself as a multifaceted individual–since only you can be you, bringing all of you is your greatest strength. She said, “Your voice is your power and now is not the time to be silent…It takes courage to lead to win.”

There were too many pearls to share them all, but there are several others that need to be mentioned. Monne Williams, a Partner at McKinsey & Company, shared startling statistics about women in the workplace, which she called “the Great Attrition.” Basically, she said there was a “fundamental mismatch between what employers and employees want.” People want to feel valued, and leaders have to be careful not to give their employees a reason to leave right now. Monne said that 71% of HR leaders say that hybrid work helps retain a diverse workforce and that women report experiencing fewer “othering microaggressions” when working remotely. All of which summed up how changing to a hybrid workplace can create a thriving, sustainable workforce for tomorrow.

Erika H. James, Dean of the Wharton School and Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten, President of Simmons University talked about their new book, The Prepared Leader: Emerge of Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before. They wrote their earlier book on crisis leadership after the Deep Horizon oil spill in 2009. They started to update it in 2019, when they both moved to new jobs and then the pandemic hit. They said that they were living what they wanted to write, which was real tips for leaders. The key is in the title of the book, being a “prepared leader.” They referred to preparation as the fourth bottom line (grouping it with people, planet and profit), and feel that being prepared involves building a trust bank so that your employees will be there in a crisis when you need them most. The trust bank also extends to the people in your life who support you, your personal board of directors: your significant other, girlfriends, babysitters–whoever you can call on when you need support. Although you can’t prepare for the exact crisis beforehand, you can prepare and practice improvising. They likened it to a polished jazz band. The musicians sound like they’re improvising, but they practice for hours–individually and together–until improvisation among their different instruments becomes seamless.

Dr. Sheila also introduced attendees to Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises. The first female CEO of an American cruise line, Lisa went on to show how they’ve built women among the positions on the cruise ship that until now have only been crewed by men, including the Celebrity Edge all female bridge team. Lisa’s journey has taken 38 years – working from the bottom in an industry devoid of women leadership – and she credited male mentors for helping her on the long winding road. Her advice was, “Don’t limit yourself and teach your daughters to think less about fitting into the glass slipper and more about breaking the glass ceiling.” Lisa said that when she gets a no, she figures out how to turn it into a yes, but COVID presented unimaginable challenges. The cruise line industry was completely shut down for 15 months which meant that 20,000 people depended on her for hope and confidence, with 70 nationalities at home with no way to make a living. They survived with resilience, pivoting and turning noes into yeses. Dr. Sheila announced that in 2023 Diversity Woman Media has partnered with Celebrity Cruises for the first Women’s Self-Care Health and Wellness Conference Cruise. Check out the conference page for more information.

Day one concluded with a panel on Leveraging Male Allies to Advance Your Career. Vera Stewart, a VP with Bank of America, questioned W. Brad Johnson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the US Naval Academy, Carlos Cubia, Chief Inclusion, Equity, Diversity and Sustainability Officer at Corewell Health, and Mark Person, Director of D&I for Dollar General Corporation. Each male ally had personal reasons for helping to promote women and suggestions for how to do it. Chief among them was the fact that advocacy had to be at the top of allyship. Carlos said that it can be as simple as standing up for something when something is not right, even if there might be repercussions. Brad cited studies about what women value in male allies–showing up and holding themselves accountable, showing up in public as well, including public sponsorship, and changing the systems by pushing policies for equal pay, doing audits, and keeping track of where women are being left behind. Two key points were mentorship and accountability. Brad gave examples of how to ask someone to be your mentor or vice versa. Rather than asking, “will you mentor me?” directly, he suggested that attendees put the request in context by referring to a presentation he made and drawing a comparison to something they’re working on. The second key point was accountability. More than one of the panelists said DEI has to be directly tied to management bonuses to get beyond lip service. Companies that are doing this are much more successful at achieving their DEI goals.

The Conference offered attendees so much more: outstanding winners of the Mosaic Awards, each with an inspiring acceptance speech, breakout sessions on a myriad of topics, additional moving keynote addresses, and insightful panels of experts. But this year’s Business Leadership Conference isn’t the only event in the works – Diversity Woman Media features the Business Leaders in Tech conference in December, and the Self-Care Cruise in April-May, 2023. Go to the website to see the complete schedule. If you can only work one conference into your schedule, mark November,  2023, for the 18th Annual Diversity Women Business Leadership Conference. There will be equally outstanding speakers and panels, and only one thing you must do to be ready–prepare to be wowed!


~Women Connect4Good is proud to be a sponsor of this empowering leadership conference for women.


Women Change the Conversation with Vote and Leadership Style

With so much going on in the world today, it’s hard to determine which issue(s) will drive voters in the upcoming midterms, and who they will choose to represent them. Young women (ages 18-29) in battleground states are motivated in large part by women’s rights – namely abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment – and are highly motivated to cast their ballots, supporting initiatives and candidates who reflect their views.

“Despite constant reports in the media on inflation and rising prices as the top issues in this election, abortion and women’s rights are actually the most important for young women as they head to the ballot box,” said Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. 

They’re not alone in their rush to the polls. More women of all ages plan to vote this year, perhaps more than at any time before. AARP reports that an overwhelming majority of women voters aged 50 and over say they are certain to vote this November (94%), and 80% of women voters rate their motivation to vote at a 10, with economic and social issues being top of mind. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in mid-October reports that half of all voters say that they are more motivated to cast a ballot because of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Three-quarters intend to back candidates who support abortion rights, compared to 17% who plan to vote for candidates who want to limit access. In fact, 50% of 1,534 adults KFF polled say they are more eager to vote in the midterms due to the fall of Roe, up from 43% in July and 37% in May. Add to that the fact that 51% of voters in states with abortion bans are more motivated to vote, compared to 32% in states that protect abortion access. These numbers may also account for a number of Republican candidates softening their abortion stances in this election cycle.

It’s important to note that while the fall of Roe may make the current discourse seem like it’s entirely about reproductive freedoms, there’s more to it, a lot more. The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that Roe actually binds together an entire class of personal freedoms, all part of the Constitution’s liberty doctrine. “Roe was a watershed decision, and its place in constitutional doctrine does not begin, or end, with abortion rights. Instead, Roe is one in a line of seminal opinions through which the Supreme Court has developed the liberty doctrine as a source of substantive rights. Those rights encompass abortion, but extend much farther.” In fact, overturning Roe threatens the constitutional foundations for a range of other liberties, and women are alerted to other personal liberties that may be affected and how elected representation might protect those rights.

The Brookings Institute points out that women vote more often than men – in the 2020 presidential election, women constituted 52% of the electorate compared to 48% for men. Brookings also pointed out how in 2020, women cast their ballots for women up and down the ticket, calling it “The Year of the Woman Voter” and wrote that the election was driven by the increasingly overwhelming determination of a significant number of women from every demographic. But as the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University points out, “Women are neither a monolith in their political beliefs, nor a unified voting bloc. Not all women are moved by the same issues and concerns, and cross-cutting identities of race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation often pull women voters in different directions, particularly in the hyper-partisan context of American politics.”

We Need Women to Lead

One hundred years ago we saw the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, six years ago we had a woman running for the highest office in the land, and four years later Kamala Harris made history when she became the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected Vice President of the United States. When she was sworn in, we – at last – had a woman in the second highest office in the land who understands juggling the demands of a career with the needs of a family, why you need to choose your own reproductive journey, the importance of equal pay, and who values affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections. We need women who possess that same understanding at every level and who are empowered to help make your voice heard.

Why women? According to RepresentWomen.org, representation is powerful, and is a fundamental pillar of a functioning democracy. Yet here we are, in 2022, and half of our population is underrepresented, not just nationally, but at every level of government. “Leveling the political playing field clearly benefits women candidates, but what does this do for all women? And what about the other half of the population? As it turns out, advancing towards gender parity not only empowers women, but also strengthens our democracy and serves the entire nation.”

Women also lead differently. RepresentWomen.org notes that while we have had anecdotal evidence of women in political office working together and problem solving, there is also new quantitative data to support those claims. “The challenges and life experiences unique to women inform their policies and leadership styles, meaning they tackle issues from different angles than men do. By better representing women’s perspectives, we can revitalize and diversify policymaking.” In addition, American University finds that women legislators “work harder for their constituents.” Women also tend to prioritize minority needs and focus on family and healthcare more than their male counterparts.

Women also have a different approach to power, and legislate with their eyes on those they serve, benefitting their communities and our nation as a whole. As Gloria Feldt writes in her book No Excuses, “Culture has taught women that power means “power over,” a concept that has been drummed into feminine consciousness through traditional, heavy-handed masculine leadership. When women re-think power as the ‘power to’ accomplish their goals, they want to own it and use it in an entirely different way.”

It’s a given that we still have a way to go when it comes to equal representation. However, as the issues become more gender specific, it is important to have women seated at the table, who can represent our voices and keep the issues that impact us, our families, and communities front and center. Remember, women lead differently, and care deeply about those they serve.  Congresswoman Cori Bush summed it up best when she said in her acceptance speech in 2020 that she loves the people who elected her and those she represents, and it is with that love that she will fight for everyone in her district. This is why it’s crucial to get more women serving in public office. That kind of dedication and perspective completely changes how we are governed. It starts in our communities and at the ballot box when we elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.

Leading Women Available on Audiobook August 8!

Leading Women on Audiobook“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler 

Dr. Nancy O’Reilly has interviewed some of the world’s smartest, most amazing women (and men) for her podcast. Since these guests inspire her, she has always wanted to help them get their message out to help other women. Their stories share “best practices” for building businesses or careers, creating strong relationships, and using their time, talent and treasures to change the world for the better. She has long had a mission to support other women and to close the gender gap. Having conversations with these guests is one way of providing a platform for them to share their stories.

Dr. Nancy firmly believes, we connect through our stories. “When I tell my story, I find a connection with other women that is so close, I feel like something magical occurs. We connect through our shared truth, and the hardships and traumatic events of life that made us grow and push past the barriers that held us back. Once we dissolve these barriers, we stop being victims of our circumstances and become empowered through knowing and engaging our own truths. I’ve always felt that it’s very important for women to reach out and support one another in this process of sharing stories without worrying about how they will be perceived. The more we do this, the bigger our community will become to help us make the greatest positive impact on the world.”

It was from these podcast guests and their stories that she selected a group of international leaders to contribute to her 2014 book, Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life. Each one of these co-authors shared their wisdom, real-life stories, and advice to help women conquer their internal barriers, claim their power and respect, and change the world by helping other women do the same. They all offered immediately actionable steps to help women change their relationship with power, increase their confidence to use their voices, and rely on their feminine skills.

While there are a lot of books inspiring women to be courageous, make our voices heard, and claim our seats at the table, few tell us HOW to do so. Leading Women fills that need. The book includes specific advice on how to:

  • become a powerful communicator,
  • use your innate ability to connect and collaborate,
  • better manage yourself in meetings,
  • reframe things you’re afraid of.
  • raise your profile.

And you can now take all of these lessons on the go, because Leading Women will be released on audiobook August 8, 2022.

Leading Women is filled with women’s stories, not just to advance your career – it is for every woman who wants to find her way, use her voice, reinvent herself after a divorce or layoff, leave a legacy, or leverage her power in other ways. It also reinforces Dr. Nancy’s belief that when women share their passion and purpose, anything is possible. With a wide array of advice from some of the world’s most influential women, Leading Women is 1,000 years of wisdom all wrapped up in a concise how-to manual for smart, busy women.

On August 8, Leading Women will be available at Chirp.com for only 99 cents for the first 48 hours before moving to its regular $14.95 price. It will also be available on 43 platforms, including Audible, Apple Books, B&N Audiobooks, Google Play, Chirp, KOBO, WalMart, Scribd, Librio and more.

Pick up your copy on August 8, and tell your friends. The world needs women’s leadership more than ever, and Leading Women can help more women see themselves as leaders and empower them to become the change we all need in our communities, our workplaces, and the world.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Makes History

Ketanji_Brown_JacksonHistory was made on April 7, 2022, when a bipartisan group of Senators confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. The momentous vote was presided over by Vice President Kamala Harris, our nation’s first Black female vice president, and witnessed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Black female lawmakers sat together along the walls, while young people filled the visitor galleries, all present to witness the event. Vice President Harris called for the final vote on Jackson’s nomination with a smile on her face, and the chamber broke into loud applause when she was confirmed.

Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock said before the vote that “Ketanji Brown Jackson’s improbable journey to the nation’s highest court is a reflection of our own journey through fits and starts toward the nation’s highest ideals.”

“She embodies the arc of our history,” he added. “She is America at its best. That I believe in my heart after meeting with her in my office, talking to folks who I trust who know her and hearing her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

It was a bumpy road to the Senate chamber for Judge Jackson, and much of the nation. Under intense scrutiny for four days, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee attacked her as a progressive activist who was soft on crime, glossing over her exemplary qualifications and experience, even asking her how she would define the word “woman.” President Biden denounced those behaviors saying Judge Jackson displayed “the incredible character and integrity she possesses.”

“To be sure I have worked hard to get to this point in my career, and I have now achieved something far beyond anything my grandparents could have possibly ever imagined, but no one does this on our own,” Judge Jackson said in her remarks on the White House South Lawn following her historic confirmation. “In the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, ‘I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave. I am the dream and the hope of the slave.’”

Judge Jackson thanked the Democratic Senate leaders, numerous White House staff involved in her confirmation process, and the many people who helped her along the way. “As I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride. We have come a long way toward perfecting our Union.”

“In my family it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. And it is an honor – the honor of a lifetime – for me to have this chance to join the court,” she added. “To promote the rule of law at the highest level, and to do my part to carry our shared project of democracy and equal justice under law forward into the future.”

Ketanji Brown JacksonJudge Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated to the nation’s highest court in its 233-year history. Born in Washington, DC, she grew up in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended segregated primary schools, then attended historically black colleges and universities, and her father attended law school. Both started their careers as public school teachers and became leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade Public School System. She testified at her confirmation hearing that one of her earliest memories was watching her father study law. “He had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books.”

Judge Jackson stood out as a high achiever throughout her childhood, serving as “mayor” of her junior high, and student body president of her high school. As class president, Judge Jackson was quoted in the 1988 Miami Palmetto Senior High School yearbook as saying, “I want to go into law and eventually have a judicial appointment.”

However, when she told her high school guidance counselor she wanted to attend Harvard, she was warned not to set her “sights so high.” She remained focused and in fact, she not only made her way to Harvard, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Today, Judge Jackson lives with her husband Patrick – who she married in 1996 – and their two daughters, in Washington, DC.

Prior to her confirmation to the Supreme Court, Judge Jackson clerked for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit and for Justice Breyer. She worked in private practice before joining the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2003. Then she became a federal public defender in 2005 before her confirmation as a U.S. district court judge in 2007. Just last year, the Senate confirmed Jackson 53-44 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Judge Jackson has set the bar – no pun intended – and is serving as an example to young girls around the world. You have to see it to be it, and she’s “being” it with grace, dignity, and deserving qualifications galore. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker summed it up best when he said to Judge Jackson during her confirmation hearing, “You deserve to be here, at this place, at this time, and you have made us all so proud…”

Women’s Leadership Challenge Creates Transformative Change

Samantha Karlin Samantha Karlin’s passion to help women become phenomenal leaders drove her to develop the Women’s Leadership Challenge to give women the tools to create transformative change. Samantha is an entrepreneur at heart and excels when it comes to finding a need and meeting it with results-driven solutions. As the host of Samanthropolitics and CEO of Empower Global, she has built a career around analyzing women’s needs and consistently meeting them with whatever it takes, whether it be for information or inspiration–providing training on everything from inclusive and feminist leadership to diversity and inclusion.

During the height of the initial COVID wave, Samantha took time to really look around and listen. Paying attention to the isolation people were feeling and how many were struggling, she realized there was a need among women for meaningful connections and community. At the same time, she saw that women’s progress toward leadership was going backwards; a trend that continues today. She also realized the only solution that can reverse that is more women leaders.

“I believe we need women leaders who don’t reinforce the patriarchy, women leaders who lead in innovative, creative, courageous ways that are true to who they are.” Samantha said, “It’s not just about having more women leaders; it’s having women leaders who are committed to change. It takes women at the top who are not afraid to speak out.”

Through her company, Empower Global, Samantha created and launched the Women’s Leadership Challenge to call out to women around the world who have similar commitments and need help to lead in ways to create transformational change. The Women’s Leadership Challenge gives participants the skills practiced by the great feminist leaders of today – Jacinda Ardern, Christine LaGarde, Stacey Abrams, and Angela Merkel among others. It also equips them with the tools they need to counter imposter syndrome and self-doubt and discover what is most unique about them as a leader. Each session also explores gender-specific challenges and delivers strategies to help women navigate them and change the system. Overall, participants gain the courage to advocate for themselves and others, learn to speak truth to power, utilize their strengths, and become agents for change.

“When women graduate from the program, they absolutely and truly believe in themselves as leaders and have crafted their leadership mission and vision,” Samantha said. “They are committed to creating workplaces where women and marginalized voices are able to rise, while supercharging their own career growth simultaneously. They are ready to lead, to move forward, and to be vocal.”

Each Challenge class, or cohort, is limited to just 8-10 participants, some virtual – generally international – and some in person, limited so far to the Washington, DC area. Samantha usually has one of each going at the same time, and while she has generally done four per year, this year may result in five or six due to increased demand. The Challenge consists of 14 sessions covering everything from “Deconstructing Your Inner Patriarchy” to “Speaking Truth to Power” and “Building Your Own Damn Table.” There is also a bonus session for final presentations. Samantha routinely brings in speakers during the sessions – social entrepreneurs like Rachel Kiddell-Monroe, founder and executive director of See Change Initiative; and Hasina Kharbhih – who’s Impulse NGO was selected as one of the top three models in the world for its innovative development and practice, and has transformed the way Southeast Asia confronts human trafficking; women in Senior Executive Service positions in government like Jennifer Miller, acting Assistant Secretary of the Airforce; heads of DEI like Dr. Naomi Mercer, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the American Bankers Association; and entrepreneurs like Tory Graf, CEO of Trillium Creative Solutions.

“I really like to have people across borders. You gain perspective on the lives of women far different than yours, from other countries, industries, races, and religions, increasing your ability to lead diverse teams,” Samantha said. “By taking this course, women join a global community of women leaders who will encourage them, support them, and supercharge their growth.”

The Empower Network

The Challenge does not end for participants once they complete the curriculum, graduates transition to The Empower Network where they can continue networking, connecting in referral circles, a soon-so-be launched women’s leadership mastermind, and even virtual and in-person parties. While women have had the time to bond with others in their own cohort, once they reach The Network, they are also intentionally paired with other members of the Empower community for one-on-one networking meetings based on what they want to achieve in their lives. These meetings expand their world views, foster collaboration opportunities. While the program is still young, Samantha envisions growth and partnerships throughout multiple cohorts happening as a result.

Samantha described the course as intensive with amazing results. She said, “Women are getting salary raises, promotions, winning leadership awards, becoming CEOs, starting their own businesses, shifting policy. I’ve seen so many amazing results from the women who go through this program.”

For example, Samantha is especially proud of one Challenge graduate who is putting together a humanitarian action network to change the humanitarian aid industry to be more human focused and gender equitable. The graduate has put together a task force of women from across the different cohorts who are all in the humanitarian aid space.

“Another woman was doing work with indigenous communities, and I had a feeling about two other women who would be interested so I matched them all at different times,” Samantha added. “Now they are all working together on a sustainable finance initiative for indigenous communities.”

Samantha plans to continue to grow the Challenge, do more with her alumni community, and expand the program further with additional trainers focused on specific geographic regions. She is also in discussion with several corporate clients about bringing the Challenge to their workplace and is working to secure additional fiscal sponsorships so she can continue to offer partial scholarships. If your company would be interested in sponsoring the program and reserving a few spots for female leaders and rising stars, reach out to info@empowerglobal.net for sponsorship options.

Cohorts are forming now. To learn more about The Women’s Leadership Challenge or to register for an upcoming cohort, go to WomensLeadershipChallenge.com.


“Why Not” Is a Movement and a Mission

Why_Not_IncubatorJacqueline L. Sanderlin, Ed.D., is an inspiring international speaker and visionary leader whose “Why Not” attitude has led to dramatic improvements in some of Southern California’s most under-resourced schools. Dr. Jackie has served over 30 years as a special education teacher, curriculum specialist, assistant principal, principal, after-school administrator, program coordinator, district administrator and executive director of school and community engagement. She is currently the U.S. Board Chairman for WE Charity, blogs for Scholastic magazine, serves as an Executive Board Member for the Goldie Hawn Foundation – MindUp, and is a steering committee member for the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for California. Having developed meaningful community partnerships between 350+ corporations, local businesses, and underserved schools, she appeared as a guest on The Ellen Show, which positioned her for the consulting producer role of the NBC reality show, School Pride.

In a time of vitriol and division, Dr. Jackie has been outspoken about her “Why Not?” message, which is to build community, unity, equity, and partnerships. She currently serves as K-12 National Education Leadership Executive Manager at Apple, Inc., and is founder and CEO of the “Why Not?” Incubator, a nonprofit organization designed to provide leadership coaching to executives, educational leaders and teams. Dr. Jackie offers virtual and in-person interactive sessions on building and sustaining community partnerships, school community wellness, empowering student youth, race and equity, and how to support teachers and students in an online setting.

Here is what “Why Not” means to Dr. Jackie, in her own words:

For me, “Why Not” is more like a movement AND a mission. I am on a mission. I want to empower all youth to use their voices to open doors, create opportunities and invent possibilities. As an educator in very challenging school districts, I have learned about the power of asking the “Why Not?” question.

My schools lacked the resources other schools had in different zip codes and it was my goal to ensure they had the best afforded to them. That is what they deserved. I was never looking for a hand out, rather than a hand up! I wanted to empower my scholars and teachers to think bigger and broader. We did this with the help of community partnerships. We also learned the power of community.

When we began to invite others to the table to help us co-create, dream possibilities and reimagine what could be, we were able to bring music, theatre, dance and photography to our school with the help of community partners. One partner gave each scholar a bicycle to help us focus on the importance of play and health. This is something we could not do, but because of the partnership we were able to give a gift to each scholar for Christmas! After that, we developed a wellness team that included more community partners, stakeholders and local politicians.

Now, I provide workshops to educators called, Building Bridges, to help them identify ways to engage their community and empower their scholars. I wrote my book, The “Why Not?” Challenge: Say Yes to Success with School-Community Partnerships, to provide action steps for schools to engage their community partners in a real way.

The three key actions to my work are:

1.) Dream possibilities

2.) Embrace your community

3.) Find your hook (cause).

Our schools are the hub of all communities and can be a catalyst for college and career pathways. More than that, when we allow others to co-create with us, it broadens our perspectives, which helps us to provide a platform for success for our scholars! Everyone benefits–from the neighbors who own property in the communities where the schools are located to the companies that employ the talent being developed in our schools. We owe it to the next generation to give them this foundation of learning and understand that they matter and we depend on them to be all they can be.

Are You Ready for Smart, Amazing Conversations?

podcastIf you are you ready to advance to the next level, you need Smart, Amazing Conversations with Dr. Nancy, a podcast that looks closely at stories of life and leadership, for smart, amazing women (and men) like you. Every person has their own special and unique story that can help empower other women. In fact, Dr. Nancy realizes how much power we have in sharing our stories. They connect us and help us understand one another, which is why she shares her passion and purpose through her podcast.

Every two weeks, Dr. Nancy hosts fascinating women and men who write books,  or have developed programs to help others, either by overcoming turmoil in their own lives, or discovering ways to be resilient and succeed at their chosen path. Many are nationally recognizable figures (or internationally, like Sarah, Duchess of York). Among them are bestselling authors, social justice activists, diversity and inclusion leaders, gender equality advocates, and humanitarians whose words of wisdom spark inspiration, ah-ha moments of realization, and further understanding through their insightful points of view.

Dr. Nancy chooses every single guest for their important contribution based on their unique point of view. From friends of the show Dr. Sheila Robinson and Gloria Feldt and thought leaders like Tiffany Schlain and Pat Mitchell to our first male guest Ed Martin, or our first video guest Elissa Fisher Harris – each is chosen based on their work and contributions to expand the conversation of how we can all become a positive force that impacts the greater good. (If you are or know someone who meets that criteria, email us here.)

PodcastSmart Amazing Conversations with Dr. Nancy is not a new podcast. Dr. Nancy was an early adopter and a pioneer in her field when she launched it over 10 years ago. She originally spearheaded topics like the invisibility felt by women as they age, media hype that steers women into thinking they have to stay young and beautiful to have value to society, and the struggles women face as they try to ascend the career ladder into leadership. Those conversations continue today, and with hundreds of episodes featuring so many fascinating guests under her belt, she also examines ways to overcome the cultural obstacles that attempt to block women from becoming leaders throughout our communities and businesses. While many other podcasts, books and blogs cover these same topics, Dr. Nancy’s conversations are both smart and amazing because of the guests they feature and the relaxed spontaneous tone of the interviews. They truly are conversational, making the listeners (and now viewers) feel like they are part of the conversation.

There cannot be enough voices on behalf of women and girls. We need all the podcasts, blogs and books—every one of them. In fact, it is key to the mission of Dr. Nancy’s foundation, Women Connect4Good, women supporting other women (and men), because it is going to take all of us working together for everyone to have a fair and equal share of the opportunities for leadership and benefits of living and working in our world today.

Dr. Nancy is as excited about meeting her guests and sharing their stories now as the day she began doing them under the “WomenSpeak” banner. Her experience and solid belief that we always find a connection when we hear each other’s stories make each podcast an individual journey into some aspect of a smart amazing person’s life.

That’s why we invite you to check out Smart, Amazing Conversations with Dr. Nancy not only on our website, but on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, or watch on YouTube and to like, subscribe, and share with your friends!


Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge Grows Women Leaders

Katie Steele Danner is the Executive Director of the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, and as a graduate alumnus of the third class of the Leadership Challenge, she has personally experienced how the statewide program grows women leaders in many careers throughout the state. Now in its 32nd year, the Challenge has grown 1,300 alumni that have spread their wings internationally. Katie describes it as a traveling symposium with a class of 30-40 women who meet for a dozen days in four, three-day sessions. Each session does a deep dive into a specific community’s issues, often discovering problems needing solutions in that area are relative to the entire state and intersect with what is happening nationally and globally. It focuses on emerging women leaders, educating them about the state of Missouri and helping them realize where their strengths and leadership can make a difference. Katie says that the Foundation hopes their eyes are open to possibility, not only to their own careers, but also how they can be more engaged in their communities.

In Katie’s case, she was a young Missouri State Representative when she accepted the challenge. While still in her 20’s she ran for office, thinking that she could do a better job than the three men running in her district, and she won. She went on to serve three terms and says that she, “had the opportunity to get to know the state of Missouri in a way that without that experience, I never would have learned the vast diversity of opportunities, and frankly, the challenges of the state of Missouri.”  However, her experience with the Challenge and the Foundation has introduced her to a vast array of expertise among the women in Missouri, including the woman engineer who runs the Callaway nuclear power plant, who is a Challenge alumnus. She says that the networking is phenomenal when you think about over a thousand women leaders now serving on boards and in leadership positions where their voices are heard, literally around the world. Katie says, “We have many women that are working with large corporate firms that are currently based in Brazil, Germany or England, etc.”

How to Apply for The Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge

There are two ways to become an applicant: an alum can refer you, or you can nominate yourself. The referral would introduce the applicant, list her strengths and what she is doing personally and professionally, and describe her as an emerging woman leader who would be successful in the program. To self-nominate, an applicant would say something like, “I’m really interested in learning more about the state of Missouri.” Then list her strengths and describe why she thinks of herself as an emerging leader, and how the Challenge would help her hone her leadership skills and grow her leadership into new areas of potential.

Katie says that the awards luncheon event that Dr. Nancy and Women Connect4Good helped sponsor in Springfield, Missouri, this year resulted in a number of women self-nominating from throughout Southwest Missouri. “And that helps us because we want diverse women, not only diverse industries, diverse experience, but diverse in geography and obviously diversity across the entire spectrum.” She encourages anyone interested to apply on their website at GreaterMo.org, and she will follow up with them.

More Benefits of the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge

Katie says that she is amazed at the number of industries she has learned about through her years of being an alum of the Challenge. And she encourages others to step up, because even if you feel you don’t know enough, there are women to help you along the way. That’s the purpose of the Challenge – to empower each other to lead. She tells the story of a young Challenge alum named Fatima who immigrated from Bosnia as a five-year-old with her parents and is now a US citizen. St. Louis, Missouri, is the largest resettlement area for Bosnian refugees, a fact Katie also wasn’t aware of until she worked with Fatima and others volunteering for the International Institute helping resettle the Afghanistan refugees in St. Louis. Fatima’s personal story as a Muslim child in a Christian sponsoring family helped with understanding the refugees in the current crisis. Fatima’s job is managing staffing for the mayor pro tem of Kansas City where she uses her experience to talk about homelessness and how partnerships with corporate America work to help fill hunger needs in rural Missouri.

Listen or watch this interview to learn more about how Katie sees the fluctuation to more remote work can benefit women and provide opportunities for women to lead in their communities where they are needed most. Stay in touch with their activities and events on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. And go the website for more information about the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, a fascinating organization growing more women leaders in Missouri every year.

Listen on Red Circle | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Diversity Woman Media is Empowering Women to Lead!

Diversity_WomanIf there’s one thing that Dr. Sheila Robinson believes, it’s that every woman is a leader–EVERY woman. We lead in our families, with our children, and in our communities. Women also lead in the workplace, and now more than ever we need to empower them to do just that, and give them the tools and support they need to step up and redefine corporate America. That’s why she chose “Empowered to Lead” as the theme for this year’s national 16th annual Diversity Woman Media Business Leadership Conference.

Sheila founded Diversity Woman Media and currently serves as its publisher and CEO. Diversity Woman is nationally recognized as a leading multi- platform enterprise with program offerings that advance all dimensions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through publishing two magazines, and producing regular Leadership Development Academy workshops and national conferences, the organization’s businesswomen’s network and membership directory provide a forum for established and aspiring women in leadership roles, including mobility of all women and marginalized professionals. They work to empower women as leaders to help them achieve their career goals through real-world experiences with sage advice, information, and mentorship.

Diversity Woman’s flagship event, the annual Business Leadership Conference, is around the corner (November 4-5), and this year’s theme personifies the organization’s focus. The opening keynote from Tara Jaye Frank – “Making a Way” – will recognize how difficult the past months have been (and still are) for many women in the workplace, and will guide participants through “what leaders of the future must believe, know, and do differently to unleash their own power while unlocking the potential of every ONE.”

Sheila_RobinsonTara’s compelling keynote will kick off two action packed days where attendees will be front and center to experience powerful speakers, a fireside chat with Sheila and Ruchika Tulshyan, panel discussions, peer discussion roundtables, breakout sessions, executive coaching, and the conveyance of the organization’s Mosaic Awards to Subha Barry, CEO of Seramount; Lorraine Hariton, President & CEO of Catalyst; Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor with Morgan Stanley; and our very own Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Founder and President of Women Connect4Good, Inc.

Once again, Diversity Woman Media’s Business Leadership Conference is attracting women business leaders of all races, cultures and backgrounds from the world’s largest corporations and entrepreneurs from successful women-owned businesses. Following last year’s event, with continued commitment to the safety of community and staff, the event will also be virtual, and promises to deliver the same innovative opportunities for engagement and networking experience with a similar outcome attendees are accustomed to experiencing in-person.

To learn more about the event, and the participating speakers and coaches, or to reserve your spot, go to the Diversity Woman website today!


Gloria Feldt’s Intentioning and How Women Will Take The Lead

IntentioningIn 2010 Gloria Feldt, author, and cofounder and president of Take The Lead, redefined the way women look at power in No Excuses – Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, by putting it into a historical context and showing the ways in which women have made huge leaps forward in the past, only to pull back right when they were at the threshold. Gloria argued that there’s no excuse for women today not to own their power, whether it’s the way women are socialized, or pressured to conform, or work/life balance issues. Women are still facing unequal pay, being passed over for promotions, entering public office at a much lower rate than men, and often still struggle with traditional power dynamics in their interpersonal relationships. Gloria’s solution to all these places where women face inequality is the same: we must shift the way we think about power to achieve true parity with our male counterparts.

The 9 Leadership Power Tools (chapters) outlined in No Excuses serve as a guide for women from every walk of life and have helped them “change the way they think, and therefore the way they act.” Gloria’s power tools are rooted in a sophisticated concept of power. Women redefine it so they can embrace it with intention and use it effectively. This shift from the outdated, oppressive “power over” to the expansive, positive, and innovative “power to” cracks the code that has held women back from leadership parity. For more than a decade the 9 Power Tools have given countless women immediate, usable ways to navigate the world as it is while changing aspects of their world that keep them from advancing.

Fast forward 11 years, and one catastrophic pandemic later, and Gloria is once again sharing her experiences and inspiring women to embrace their personal power to lead with intention, confidence, and joy. In her latest book, Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) GoodGloria not only unveils the next step in advancing gender parity in all spheres of business and life, she also lays out the vital next steps in the overall advancement of our economy and our civilization.

Gloria’s latest book is not written with the pandemic as a side note or brief historical fact, but instead looks at how recent events have revealed deep fault lines in our culture and the systemic inequities that have always held women back. It comes as no surprise to her that women flexed their formidable muscles when needed most, representing a disproportionate number of essential workers during the darkest days of the coronavirus global outbreak and leading the charge against racism in the U.S. That being said, this book is decidedly about the future, taking the leadership lessons learned from this disruption and creating a better world for all through the power of intention.

In addition to preparing women to lead change, be change, and sustain change, improve their impact, turn obstacles into assets, apply their power to energies, using their ambition as fuel to achieve their intentions, Intentioning also shares the stories of “Intentional Women” (including Dr. Nancy O’Reilly) teaching readers 9 Leadership Intentioning Tools, with tips for implementing them and practice exercises for each.

Through the lens of women’s stories, Intentioning delivers a fresh set of leadership tools, skills, and concepts that help all women reach their own highest intentions. Gloria purposefully creates new norms, while guiding institutions to break through the remaining barriers to gender and racial parity for everyone’s good. It’s a must-read for every woman who is ready to reach for more and help move women’s progress forward in the workplace and in the world. Learn more at www.intentioningbook.com.


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