The 3rd Annual Inspiring Women Leaders Conference was held at the University of Florida Hilton Conference Center in Gainesville, FL. View the highlight reel created by Nas Visuals!
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Thank you for your interest in the 2022 Inspiring Women Leaders Conference! We are working hard behind the scenes for this event – be sure to join our social groups, follow our Twitter @iwlinfo or join our mailing list to stay in the know about everything IWL!
Save the date – #IWL2022 is March 8-9, 2022!
Jessica C. Baker is an educator, communicator, and changemaker who has been helping people and organizations realize their potential for over 16 years. Her background spans higher education and the non-profit sector and has always centered on cultivating opportunities and expanding access for all.
Jessica is the Engagement and Prevention Coordinator for the University of Florida Office for Accessibility and Gender Equity. Through this role, she engages the community in building inclusive, resilient environments that foster the equitable participation of students, faculty, staff, and visitors in campus programs, spaces, and activities.
Jessica’s passion for community building has led her to serve on multiple non-profit and government advisory boards throughout her career. She has worked on a variety of community initiatives from food and economic security to the prevention of interpersonal violence. She is a recent alumna of Leadership Gainesville (Go Yellow!) and serves on the board of LYFEhouse, a local non-profit organization. Jessica is a member of the Alachua County League of Women Voters and serves on the education committee. She is a mother of two, a rural Alachua County resident, and a current graduate student in the College of Education.
As the founder of Barbara Khozam Speaking and Consulting, Barbara is an award-winning international speaker and trainer specializing in customer service and the patient experience. Barbara has delivered over 1700 presentations to 75,000 people in twelve countries. Her audiences include employees of Kaiser, United Healthcare, and the FBI to name a few. She’s known for her “High Energy/High Impact” delivery, outrageous wit, and ability to tackle real issues posed by her audience.
In 2019 Barbara was chosen as the Top Customer Service Consultant of the Year by the International Association of Top Professionals.
Also in 2019, Barbara was awarded the CSP® (Certified Speaking Professional™) from the National Speaker’s Association. Barbara is one of only three women in the world to have achieved BOTH this destination as well as the Toastmaster Accredited Speaker designation.
Keira Simmonds is the founder of LYFEhouse Inc., a personal and professional development nonprofit for youth and families based in Gainesville, Florida. She is a certified coach, and facilitator with the John Maxwell Team and has earned her designation as a Certified Master of Career Services from the National Career Development Association. In addition to these roles, Keira leverages her expertise as the Senior Assistant Director of Campus Engagement with the UF Career Connections Center where she supports the career center’s globalization initiatives and cultivates strategic partnerships that support alumni and underrepresented students across campus. She has over 10 years of experience working with career and life design in education, social service and workforce development settings.
Joy started her career as an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the most racially diverse liberal arts college. Those experiences led her to obtain a second master’s degree in Social Justice Education. Facing mounting student loans, she found herself in the private sector in the finance and insurance industry. As one of the first executives to be part of diversity and inclusion teams for Fortune 100 and 500 organizations, she has been on the ground floor in DEI industry over the last fifteen years, Joy consults for organizations in technology, engineering, software, education, and even retail. As a female entrepreneur for the last ten years, Joy designs and aligns D&I strategies with programs that elevate business results and change lives. As a nationally recognized expert and speaker on diversity and inclusion, bias and privilege, Joy offers key insights in workshops that elevate participant leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and roadmaps for transformative action. Joy’s uses her gentle strength to lead people to their learning edge which results in enhancing an organization’s inclusive culture and increases all employee’s experience of belonging in the workplace. As an executive coach and advisor to Employee Resource Groups and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committees, she creates space for organizations to realize the value DEI. Joy uses her knowledge of storytelling and narratives to inspire clients to realize their own lived experiences of diversity, equity, and inclusion which results in each of us being the change we all need.
Joy holds a Master of Education in social justice from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also has a Master of Arts in psychology from Boston University. Joy has taught over twenty-five unique courses spanning the disciplines of statistics, psychology, education, gender studies, and critical race studies.
Noted speaking engagements:
“Diversity in the Workplace: Bring Your Whole Self to Work.” Sponsored by the Career Center and Center for Student, Diversity, and Inclusion, at Suffolk University, October 2020.
“Fishbowls, oceans, and the art of unpacking unconscious biases in ourselves and others.” Inspiring Women’s Leadership Conference at the University of South Florida at Gainesville, March 2020.
“Unusual Suspects: How Two Women Create Space for Authentic Equity and Inclusion.” March 2020
When she is not speaking and leading workshops, she takes on interim head of HR & DEI roles for startups, nonprofits, and is often the first executive in such roles and positions the organization to successfully integrate diversity and inclusion into all aspects of an organization. In her spare time, she reads spy novels and goes on hikes with her wife Jen, son Lucas, and their three dogs, Toby, Axis, and Atlas.
Sherron Washington, M.A. is a marketing and communication (marcomm) professional who has imparted her wisdom and expertise for over two decades. She has been deemed “The Marketing Whisperer” by many, due to her uncanny ability to assist businesses in developing innovative, results-driven, yet, simple marcom solutions. Sherron is the founder and CEO of the P3 Solution, a full-service marketing and communications that specializes in providing easy marketing strategy, messaging, design and social media solutions for businesses.
Sherron is an innovative, solution-driven and insightful professional that has an elite keenness for effectively communicating using strategic, learning theory technologies that create a perfect fusion with marketing and communication to help organizations attract more leads, enhance communication and increase growth opportunities.
A sought-after international speaker, trainer/facilitator, professor and author , Sherron’s energetic passion permeates the crowd and creates an unforgettable electrifying experience. Her “market and communication simple” messages has been delivered across many stages worldwide, including, Jamaica, Barbados, Canada and the Cayman Island where she trains and facilitates sessions for: The International Association of Venue Managers, Goldman Sachs 10KSB program and Events DC. She is also currently a professor at Trinity University in Washington, DC. Sherron has positioned herself as a leading authority in the marcom industry. She has authored two books Market Simple: The Blueprint to a One-Page Marketing Plan, and The Oops Moment: Eliminating Marketing Mistakes, Mishaps and Missteps instructional guides on how businesses can create a quick and easily executable one-page marketing plan and eliminate marketing mistakes. In addition to authoring two publications, she has also been a contributor for Social Media Today, Black Enterprise, American Express Open Forum, SmartCEO and LinkedIn Marketing, where she is a leading authority on how to streamline marketing, social media marketing and communications efforts in order to make a more effective impact.
Sherron has been described as the “real-deal” when it comes to engagement. She is tremendously skillful at creating and cultivating authentic interactions that generate synergy that flourish into countless opportunities. She uses a combination of her marcom business acumen, online and offline to create a distinctive and lasting presence that encourages and influences others to be more willing to build an integral relationship. Sherron’s goal is to educate businesses on how to develop and execute better marketing and communication strategies that will have successful outcomes.
Sherron has a Masters of Arts in Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a double minor in Business and Media Technology.
Tara Blythe serves as Vice President for Infotech, Inc. In this role she leads organizational strategy, talent, and communications helping to cultivate the people-centric culture that has been present since its founding.
Entering its 40th year, Infotech consists of two core businesses. Infotech Systems provides software solutions that advance and automate construction while Infotech Consulting provides expert statistical and econometric litigation consulting services. With a diverse workforce, and collaborative, inclusive environment, Infotech is a thriving, Gainesville-born pioneer of innovation, committed to its family of employees, customers, and community.
Tara is also an adjunct Faculty member for Executive Education at the University of Florida. She has over 20 years of leadership experience in the areas of business strategy, organizational development, and talent management. As a talent management practitioner with experience across industries, she is an accomplished facilitator, curriculum designer, and consultant specializing in talent, leadership development, innovation, change management and strategic planning.
Tara is a proud member of the Gator Nation, earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Florida. Additionally, she holds an Ed.S. in Human Resources and Organizational Development from the University of Georgia, and her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification.
Taylor Williams is the lead facilitator of Guts & Glory Creative Consulting and the creative director of Guts & Glory GNV, a live storytelling organization. She has been studying and performing improv comedy and storytelling for over 11 years, and a motivational speaker for 15. She got her start in New York City where she trained with Upright Citizens Brigade and worked as a commercial actress. She offers trainings and keynotes around communication, storytelling, public speaking, and company culture. She holds an advanced certificate in Design Thinking and Communicating for Impact from IDEO U, allowing her to use human-centered design in the consulting work she offers to clients. She recently gave a TEDxUF talk about public speaking, and is now working on a book on the same topic. She is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Florida at the Innovation Academy (Creativity and Design Thinking for Innovation) and in the College of Journalism in the undergraduate, graduate, and online programs (focusing on storytelling, communication, personal branding podcasting,) and serves as a consultant with UF MBA programs. Taylor is a graduate of UF, with a BA in business and an M.Ed., Ed.S. in mental health.
www.gutsandglorycreativeconsulting.com and www.gutsandglorygnv.com
Today, Poornima Srinivasan describes herself as a tech-evangelist, with all the zeal of the newly converted.
But that is not where she started. After working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), she took a 15 year career break while raising her two daughters. When she sought to relaunch her career she faced a world that had dramatically changed. She is not embarrassed to admit she sent inter-office mail with lotus notes, used an IBM main-frame processor, and even operated a comptometer.
To re-enter the work force, she decided to double down on developing technology related skills. She proceeded to obtain certifications from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in several technology related areas, including the credential to practice as a certified technology professional in accounting. She is a member of the task force on emerging technologies through the AICPA, and the Accounting Working Group of the Wall Street Block Chain Alliance. In her daily work, she regularly evaluates the information flow and systems for many businesses, governments and non-profits.
She is a frequent speaker through Toastmasters International, and has attained the highest level of Distinguished Toastmaster. She has coached and mentored many other speakers, including coaching speakers for the TEDeX Ocala over the past three years.
She is currently an Audit Manager at RSM US LLP, where she works with clients to help them tell their stories in numbers.
Dedicated to mobilizing cultural, creative, and community resources to build a better future, Maria Trogolo is a multilingual humanitarian and musician. Currently, Maria cultivates relationships in the University of South Florida (USF) Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships. She also serves as the Vice-President of the Salvador Dalí Museum Zodiac Committee and Co-Director of the International Zar Exploration Collective, which conducts ethnographic and artistic research into spirit possession healing practices. An avid explorer, Maria’s adventures range from Peace Corps Service in a Bedouin village to a drone archaeology mapping expedition in the Black Desert to sound exploration of ancient spaces.
Maria has extensive experience working at the intersection of international development, academia, and the arts. Under the patronage of UN Goodwill Ambassador HRH Princess Dana Firas, Maria helped develop the Petra Junior Ranger Program for youth engagement in cultural resources management. These curricula became a model for subsequent outreach activities at the Petra National Trust as well as heritage education initiatives throughout the Arab World. At the USAID Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Local Communities Project, Maria helped under-served Jordanians utilize archaeological sites, handicrafts, and sustainable tourism for economic empowerment. In 2017, Maria represented the United States as the first American delegate to present at the 26th Arab Music Festival & Conference in Cairo, alongside the UNESCO Ambassador of the Iraqi Maqam Dr. Hussein Al Adhami.
Maria holds a Master of Arts in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University, specializing in cultural heritage and creative industries. Maria graduated summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary with majors in Linguistics and Middle Eastern Studies. She is a classically trained soprano in the Western tradition, and plays the qanun (lap harp) in maqam (microtonal) music performance.
Erin O’Malley helps people thrive through the power of human connection. She speaks to business leaders, from the frontline to the C-Suite, teaching them to redefine perceived problems with leadership, engagement, and loyalty, and focus on the real issue: connection.
While she currently calls Jacksonville, Florida home – Erin identifies as a Jersey Girl, with all the stamina to rock ten years in hospitality leadership; the strength to survive two years in the Peace Corps in Panama; the savvy to consult for the past 10 years with industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to automotive; and the smarts to get out of Jersey and see the world.
When Erin is not enthusiastically connecting with her audiences, she prefers to be at the beach, or on a boat, sailing off into the sunset.
Andy joined the University of Florida in 1999 and has over twenty-five years of conference and special event planning experience. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Real Estate from the University of South Carolina in 1987 and a Master of Arts in Homeland Security from American Military University in 2012.
Andy served twenty-seven years in the United States Navy, serving on various ships and shore assignments. Since 1996, he served in the Coastal Riverine Force providing anti-terrorism force protection for forward deployed ships in the Middle East. Andy made multiple deployments following the September 11, 2001 attacks and retired as a Captain in 2015.
He earned his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification in 2007 and his Certified Meeting Manager (CMM) certification in 2015. Andy is an active member in Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and served as President for the 2014-2016 term with the Central Florida Chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP).
Andy has been a diehard Miami Dolphins fan since 1972 and enjoys going to sporting events, traveling, and spending time with family.
Antonio Farias joined the University of Florida in 2018 as its first chief diversity officer and senior advisor to the president. He oversees university-wide efforts to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion and to establish a new standard of inclusive excellence. He was previously vice president for equity and inclusion at Wesleyan University and, before that, the inaugural chief diversity officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He has also held positions at Mercy College, Hunter College, and Colgate University. Farias has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master of fine arts from the University of California, Riverside. He believes trail running, fly fishing, and big dogs soothe the soul.
Naz Erenguc was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. She earned all three of her degrees from the University of Florida, a Bachelors in Health Science Education a Master of Science in Health Education, and her PhD from the College of Health and Human Performance.
During Naz’s tenure at UF she has worked as an undergraduate academic advisor for both the College of Health and Human Performance and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As of 2011, she changed her career focus to graduate admissions and has been working at the UFMBA program as the Associate Director of Admissions for the Professional MBA programs, including our Executive, Online and Professional options. In addition to her role as an administrator she has also taught a number of undergraduate and graduate courses she is the current president for the Association of Academic Women and has served on the executive board since 2014.
The IWL 20201 Sponsorship packet will be released soon – join our email list and be one of the first to know when the packet is available!
Nikki Larchar, SHRM-CP
We all know that feeling we get in the pit of our stomach when someone crosses the line and makes us feel uncomfortable, but for many of us, speaking up in tricky situations can be difficult. Join Define the Line co-founder, Nikki Larchar, during an interactive presentation to learn how you can spark change by speaking up and defining your line. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of how harassment affects the workplace, how we can each be advocates for ourselves and each other, and walk away with tools to help feel empowered to speak up, define the line, and create workplaces that are safe and secure for everyone.
This interactive presentation will offer participants the safe space to explore their own identities (gender, race, sexuality, age) and how they intersect. Within the heart of the intersections lies experiences of unconscious bias and the built up of micro-aggressions. Each participant will leave feeling inspired given the space to unpack some of these experiences and empower to professionally interrupt these unconscious biases in themselves and others.
Claudia Cometa, PharmD
Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being. In this interactive presentation, Dr. Claudia Cometa will highlight the importance of approaching wellness from a holistic approach of mind, body, and spirit. As she reviews core concepts of wellness and how this shows up in our personal and professional lives, Claudia will engage the audience with thought-provoking video clips, discussions, and a guided meditation. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of wellness as well as a tangible assessment of their own wellness quotient.
Dr. Theresa Beachy
Meeting the challenges of individual work while leading a team, organization, or mission is difficult. In this workshop, I will focus on three challenges that women encounter in the process of Working While Leading. Through a dynamic discussion using personal experience and relevant research, participants will be given the opportunity to identify work priorities as a leader, the balancing act of personal and professional time, and how to engage in community collaboration from the leadership chair.
Based on her book, The Protégé Paradox, author and speaker, Edith Gandy discusses the value of mentoring in helping women to navigate everything from office politics to work-life balance and looks at the “why” behind women’s reluctance to ask for and offer mentoring. The session provides practical advice on how women can get and give the mentoring needed to help one another succeed.
This presentation takes the fear out of dealing with budgets, investments and planning for retirement. It’s all about changing your habits, changing your mindset to achieve financial wellness. Galia GIchon’s 20+ years’ experience in the financial services industry has helped her work with thousands of women make changes in their finances and overcome obstacles to see money changes right away!
Erica Betz, Alexandra Simon, M.Ed.,Ed.S., & Julia Vollrath
Getting a promotion is very exciting, but also comes with unexpected social consequences. As a new leader, you expect to have to learn the tasks within your new role, but what may be unexpected is navigating leading a group of your former peers. In this session, you will hear from three University of Florida midmanagers who will share their stories and provide examples of how they have developed their professional voices and overcome hurdles of role transition in the workplace. Challenge your fears of becoming a leader among your peers, provide tips to elevate your professional brand, and share tactical tools to feel confident in owning your leadership style.
Tara Blythe, Ed.S., SPHR
Today’s workforce requires leaders to invest in diversity. Inclusion is a business strategy that drives innovation, employee engagement and organizational performance. A diverse workforce is better equipped to respond to today’s everchanging market. Yet many experts claim that the generational divide in the workplace, and society, has never been more evident than it is today. As technology advances, we see 5 generations, AI and robots working side by side. Understanding the differences and intersections in values, behaviors and communication have become a business imperative.
Dawn MacLaughlin, PhD
In this powerful conversation, you will discover: 1) the one thing you’ve been doing “for your health” that’s robbing you of energy, increasing your stress, sabotaging your leadership, and making your health worse; 2) how you can gain back 10 hours or more of productivity each week without any special food, energy drink, time management program, or any of that other stuff you already know doesn’t work; and 3) three steps to discovering your own personal nutritional blueprint – your unique guide to long-term vibrant health so you can be a more impactful leader while looking and feeling fabulous in your body and being more present in your own life.
Anita Anantharam, PhD, MBA, Tara Blythe, Ed.S., SPHR, Eric Godet, Sr., Stephanie Marchman, & Barzella Papa, CFRE
Diversity and Inclusion have become recognized as drivers of innovation and increased profitability in organizations of all types. The intentional creation of policies, procedures, and practices that engage a wide range of voices increases creativity, complex problem solving, job satisfaction and higher productivity. Panelists will discuss their organizations efforts to bolster equality across all areas of diversity; including age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race and religion.