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Simmons Leadership Conference

April 13, 2022 Online from Anywhere
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Join Us Online from Anywhere.

It’s more important than ever before for women leaders to show up as their best selves and bring out the best in those around them. Gain inspiration at our 43rd annual fully virtual conference. Together we’ll unpack this year’s theme of cultivating courage and connection to empower women to Arrive & Thrive™ in today’s business landscape. Hear the wisdom of world-class women leaders. Build leadership skills and knowledge. Network with peers and allies from around the globe.

Learn how we take the virtual conference to a whole new level.

An amazing day of inspiration and learning.

8 Inspiring Speakers
Keynotes and skills sessions by globally renowned leaders
3 Thought-provoking Panels
Discussions about inclusive leadership in the workplace
4 Networking Breakouts
Network with peers from around the world
15+ Virtual Exhibitors
Learn more about and connect with sponsor organizations

Our Speakers

This year’s lineup of inspiring women leaders will share their personal journeys, offer career-building advice, and lead thought-provoking discussions. We are thrilled to announce that the following world-class speakers will be joining this year’s event.

Join our mailing list for updates to the day's program.

Speakers

Simone Biles Headshot

Simone Biles

World’s Most Decorated Gymnast

Simone Biles Headshot

Simone Biles

World’s Most Decorated Gymnast

Simone Biles Headshot

Simone Biles is one of the greatest female athletes of all-time. The first woman to capture five All-Around World Championship titles, Biles is the most decorated gymnast in World Championships history – male or female – with 25 medals overall (19 gold) and is a seven-time Olympic medalist (4 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze). A three-time Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, she has earned the rare distinction of having four skills named in her honor – The Biles – across beam, floor (two) and vault disciplines.

Biles’ extraordinary accomplishments have received widespread recognition including TIME 100 Most Influential, Forbes 30 Under 30, Ebony Power 100, People Women Changing the World, USA Today 100 Women of the Century, and two-time Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year among others. Her autobiography – Courage to Soar – was a New York Times bestseller and developed into an award-winning TV special on Lifetime. Biles utilizes her platform to help advocate for mental health and support initiatives that provide education and assistance for children and young adults associated with adoption and foster care.

Biles was the recipient of InStyle magazine’s 2021 Original Award. Amanda Gorman presented the award and recited “The Greatest,” an original poem she wrote to honor Biles. “Simone has showed that power is listening to a voice that is your own, that greatness lies not in if we’ve won but if we’ve grown, and that if one woman speaks her truth, she is never alone.” The poem ends with the line: “From the very start, with everything, she brings her humanity, her humility, her hope. This above all is what makes Simone the GOAT.”

In her acceptance speech, Biles said, “When I think about being an original, I think it’s about staying true to yourself in all aspects of your life, whether it’s your work life, your personal life, or your style,” Biles said. “It’s embracing the idea that you do you.”

Susan Brady headshot

Susan MacKenty Brady

CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Susan Brady headshot

Susan MacKenty Brady

CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Susan Brady headshot

Susan is CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership and the Simmons University Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Chair of Women and Leadership. Susan ignites, inspires, and advises executives to foster a mindset of inclusion and create a culture of equity in their organizations. She is the author of two acclaimed books on leadership and her third, co-authored by Executive Chair of the Board of Deloitte US Janet Foutty and Simmons University President Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten, is on the way: Arrive & Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership (McGraw-Hill, Spring 2022). Susan has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, she has served as a guest expert on the topic of leadership across most media platforms, and she has keynoted or consulted at over 500 organizations worldwide.

Brene Brown headshot

Brené Brown

Researcher & Bestselling Author

Brene Brown headshot

Brené Brown

Researcher & Bestselling Author

Brene Brown headshot

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work.  Brené is also a visiting professor in management at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, is the author of six #1 New York Times bestsellers, and is the host of the weekly Spotify Original podcasts Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead.

Brené’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages and titles include: Atlas of the Heart, Dare to Lead, Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection. With Tarana Burke, she co-edited the best-selling anthology You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience.

Her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 50 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix. The Call to Courage special debuted on the streaming service in April 2019.

Brené lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie.

erica dhawan headshot

Erica Dhawan

Expert on Leading, Selling and Communicating in a Hybrid World

erica dhawan headshot

Erica Dhawan

Expert on Leading, Selling and Communicating in a Hybrid World

erica dhawan headshot

When leaders want to break team silos, drive exponential growth and innovate through
teamwork, they call Erica Dhawan. Erica is an internationally recognized leading authority,
author and advisor on 21st century teamwork, collaboration and innovation. Named by
Thinkers50 as the “Oprah of Management Thinkers”, she is the author of two books Get Big Things
Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence and Digital Body Language (published in 2021).
It’s 2021, the world of business is increasingly digital and work practices have changed at a
blistering rate. Erica shares innovative strategies to unlock the collective power of teams, build a
culture of trust across any distance and create authentic engagement to ensure
competitiveness. Rated #1 on the Top Women Keynote Speakers of 2020 and featured as one of
the management thinkers most likely to shape the future of business, Erica frequently appears in
Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company, and the Huffington Post.
Erica uses the power of storytelling and humor paired with research findings to provide
audiences with interactive, refreshing, practical strategies for modern innovation-driving
teamwork.
Topics:
• Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence
• Digital Body Language: Collaborate Faster and Further, Together
• Concrete Empathy: A Playbook for Leading Modern Teams to Innovation

Molly Fletcher Headshot

Molly Fletcher

Renowned Speaker and Author

Molly Fletcher Headshot

Molly Fletcher

Renowned Speaker and Author

Molly Fletcher Headshot

Hailed as the “female Jerry Maguire” by CNN, Molly Fletcher made a name for herself as one of the first female sports agents. During her almost two-decade career and as President of CSE, Molly negotiated over $500 million in contracts and represented over 300 of sports’ biggest names, including Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, PGA TOUR golfer Matt Kuchar, broadcaster Erin Andrews and basketball championship coaches Tom Izzo and Doc Rivers. As a World’s Top 50 Keynote Speaker, she delivers her inspiring message to audiences around the world. She is the author of five books, including The Energy Clock, Fearless at Work, and A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating.

Molly is the founder and host of the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast, where she interviews experts and celebrities in every field including Arthur Blank, Dabo Swinney, John Mackey, Matthew McConaughey, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Simon Sinek.

Her insights have been featured in prestigious media outlets, including CNN, ESPN, Forbes, Fast Company, InStyle, and Sports Illustrated. As the founder of The Molly Fletcher Company, she helps leaders transform workplace complacency with her Game Changer Negotiation Training and The Energized Leader programs.

In a December 2021 Tedx Talk, “Secrets of a Champion Mindset,” Fletcher stressed that people cannot rely on their talent alone to achieve success. Instead, she said they must have internal drive to not only get to the top but also stay on top—and thrive there. She highlighted the risks of complacency. “There is no place for complacency because there is always someone younger, faster, stronger who can’t wait to take your spot, who can’t wait to take your job,” she said. “The real magic happens when you stop focusing on the competition against others and you start competing against yourself.”  Fletcher’s Tedx Talk has received nearly 82,000 views.

Janet Foutty Headshot

Janet Foutty

Executive Chair of the Board, Deloitte US

Janet Foutty Headshot

Janet Foutty

Executive Chair of the Board, Deloitte US

Janet Foutty Headshot

Janet is the Executive Chair of the Board of Deloitte US, the largest professional services organization in the US, which serves nearly 90 percent of the Fortune 500. She previously was the chair and CEO of Deloitte Consulting. Janet is committed to purposeful leadership and recognizes that business can and should make a broader societal impact that matters. Her upcoming book, co-authored by CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership Susan MacKenty Brady and President of Simmons University Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten, is on the way: Arrive & Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership (McGraw-Hill, Spring 2022).

amy gallo headshop

Amy Gallo

Author, Podcast Host, and Expert in Conflict and Workplace Dynamics

amy gallo headshop

Amy Gallo

Author, Podcast Host, and Expert in Conflict and Workplace Dynamics

amy gallo headshop

Amy Gallo is an author, podcast host, and expert in conflict and workplace dynamics. In all of her work, she combines the latest management research with practical advice to deliver evidence-based ideas on how to improve relationships and excel at work. 

Amy Gallo is the author of two books: HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict and Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People), which will be out in September 2022. In her role as a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, Amy writes about interpersonal dynamics, communicating ideas, leading and influencing people, and building your career. Her work has been collected in numerous books on emotional intelligence and managing people. 

Amy is a co-host of HBR’s Women at Work podcast, which features conversations aimed at helping women make sense of our experiences, go after what we want, get through tough times, and understand and learn from one another’s challenges. 

She lives in Providence, R.I., with her husband and daughter. As the parent of a teenager, she spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to apply her own advice on difficult conversations at home. 

Amanda Gorman Headshot

Amanda Gorman

America's First Youth Poet Laureate

Amanda Gorman Headshot

Amanda Gorman

America's First Youth Poet Laureate

Amanda Gorman Headshot

Poet Amanda Gorman captured the attention of the world with the recitation of her original poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Her important poem of national unity and masterful delivery inspired a nation at a pivotal moment and lifted up the ideals of a shared hope and collective purpose.

At 22-years-old, L.A. native Amanda Gorman is called “the next great figure of poetry in the U.S.” In 2017 she made history by becoming the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America. In this role she has spoken at the Library of Congress, the United Nations, Mashable Social Good Summit, WE Day, and venues across the country. Prior to her national position she served as the inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of L.A. and later the West.

In these capacities she met Michelle Obama at the White House, conducted a library tour, and published The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough. She is Founder and Executive Director of One Pen One Page, which promotes literacy among youth through free creative writing programming for underserved youth. She has been a HERlead Fellow in Washington, D.C, and London, and a UN Youth Delegate in NYC. She’s performed alongside Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, and Lin-Manuel Miranda to advocate for youth leadership and arts education, and spoken alongside Al Gore and Secretary Hillary Clinton for environmentalism and women’s rights. Her work has been featured in numerous national and international publications. A model on the side, she’s been a face in two national campaigns for Eileen Fisher and Helmut Lang.

She is a recipient of the Making a Difference Award from Black Girls Rock and BET, recognition from the Scholastic Inc. and YoungArts, a Genius Grant from OZY Media, and a College Women of the Year Award from Glamour Magazine. She was selected from a competitive 20,000+ applicant pool to be one of the newest contributors to the New York Times newsletter The Edit, tailored to college students and recent graduates. She is a graduate of Harvard University.

At the November 2021 InStyle Awards, Gorman presented Simone Biles with the Original Award and recited “The Greatest,” a poem she wrote to honor Biles. “Since she’s getting the ‘Original’ award, I thought the best way to honor her would be through an original poem,” Gorman said before sharing the poem. “Simone has showed that power is listening to a voice that is your own, that greatness lies not in if we’ve won but if we’ve grown, and that if one woman speaks her truth, she is never alone.”

The poem closes with the line: “From the very start, with everything, she brings her humanity, her humility, her hope. This above all is what makes Simone the GOAT.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

New York Times Bestselling Author, Podcast Host & Professional Troublemaker

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

New York Times Bestselling Author, Podcast Host & Professional Troublemaker

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is what happens when you blindly follow doing what you love without expectation. Born outside the box, her brilliance is the unifying theme for all her endeavors. The New York Times best-selling author, sought-after speaker, and podcast host thrives at the intersection of comedy, media and justice. Her debut book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, hit the New York Times best-sellers list at #5 in its first week. Her latest book Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, released March 2, 2021, is also a New York Times best-seller.

Selected for Oprah Winfrey’s inaugural Supersoul 100 list for “elevating humanity,” Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warmth, perpetual truth-telling and trouble making. Putting into words the thoughts few dare to say; the veteran blogger could give a masterclass on disruption. Internationally recognized, she has graced stages around the globe for some of the world’s most innovative companies and conferences, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, MAKERS, SXSW and the Obama White House. Her wildly popular TED talk “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable” has over 5 million views and climbing.

On a mission to call fear out, she hosts her podcast, “Professional Troublemaker,” where she and her guests with humor and honesty, entertain transparent conversations about living life loudly, with courage and conviction; recognizing that the things we must do are more significant than our fears.

Second City Works Logo

Second City Works

Corporate Education and Professional Development

Second City Works Logo

Second City Works

Corporate Education and Professional Development

Second City Works Logo

The Second City has been performing sketch comedy in front of audiences for over 60 years, making it the standard by which comedy and Improv is judged. So much talent has come from the ranks of the company’s many theaters over the years, it reads like a who’s who of contemporary comedy. Some of our most well-known alumni are Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Amber Ruffin, Tina Fey, Keegan Michael Key, and Stephen Colbert to name a few.

Second City Works helps leading businesses to create a fun, interactive, and unconventional approaches to learning and entertainment. We have worked with over 400 Fortune 1000 companies, including: Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, The Economist, GE, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, eBay, Wachovia, Allstate, McDonalds, Nike, Sony, Cisco, HP, Siemens, Accenture, BCG, Deloitte, EY, McKinsey and PwC.

Additionally, SCW is profiled regularly by media outlets including: ABC World News, Morning Joe, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, CNBC, FOX-TV, CTV Canadian Business Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The Toronto Star, Training & Development magazine, HR magazine, and Employment Relations Today.

Lynn Perry Wooten headshot

Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten

President, Simmons University

Lynn Perry Wooten headshot

Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten

President, Simmons University

Lynn Perry Wooten headshot

Dr. Wooten is the ninth president of Simmons University and the first African American to lead the university. A seasoned academic and an expert on organizational development and transformation, Lynn specializes in crisis leadership, diversity and inclusion, and positive leadership—organizational behavior that reveals and nurtures the highest level of human potential. Lynn is an innovative leader, presenter, and prolific author whose research has informed her work in the classroom and as an administrator. Her upcoming book, co-authored by CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership Susan MacKenty Brady and Executive Chair of the Board of Deloitte US Janet Foutty, is on the way: Arrive & Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership (McGraw-Hill, Spring 2022).

Lynn has also maintained a robust clinical practice, providing leadership development, education, and training for a wide variety of companies and institutions, from the Kellogg Foundation to Harvard University’s Kennedy School to Google.

Lynn grew up in Philadelphia. She is married to David Wooten, a chaired marketing professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. They have two children, Justin and Jada.

Panelists

Jill Albertelli headshot

Jill Albertelli

President of Military Engines for Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business

Jill Albertelli headshot

Jill Albertelli

President of Military Engines for Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business

Jill Albertelli headshot

Jill Albertelli is the President of Military Engines for Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business. Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture, and service of aircraft engines and auxiliary power units. Jill brings 30 years of Pratt & Whitney experience to this role, from leadership positions in engineering, manufacturing operations, and supply chain to sales, programs, and commercial aftermarket, to leading the Quality organization. Most recently, Jill led the Transformation & Strategy organization, partnering across the company to drive performance and alignment and spearheading enterprise-wide initiatives, including Office of the Future and the building of the new world-class turbine airfoil production facility in Asheville, N.C. 

Jill received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Boston University and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She also holds certificates from Harvard Business School, the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and INSEAD Business School. Jill was inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers and received the National Diversity Council Influential Women award. 

Jill is an advocate to advance girls and women in STEM fields. She serves on the Boston University College of Engineering Dean’s Leadership Advisory Board, the Southern New England Junior Achievement Board of Directors, and is a member of the Miss Porter’s School STEM Advisory Board.

ebony lee headshot

Ebony Lee

Managing Director of Degree Programs, 2U, Inc.

ebony lee headshot

Ebony Lee

Managing Director of Degree Programs, 2U, Inc.

ebony lee headshot

Ebony Lee is the Managing Director of Graduate Programs at 2U, Inc., where she is responsible for the development and execution of the segment’s operating plan to achieve its financial objectives and customer satisfaction metrics. In this role, she identifies strategic opportunities, builds collaborative partnerships, and works across the business to drive product innovation designed to delight customers and improve the competitiveness of 2U offerings for both university partners and learners.

Prior to joining 2U, Lee was SVP of strategic development at Comcast, where she managed a large operating budget to identify, analyze, and launch new businesses and partnerships in non-traditional spaces. She was the driving force behind LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs and was also a founding team member of several innovation ventures. Before Comcast, Lee managed strategic planning and innovation roadmaps for Sprint Nextel’s 4G WiMax venture (ultimately sold to Clearwire). She also spent several years advising communications and high-tech companies in strategy, organization design, and operations as a management consultant at A.T. Kearney.

She has an MBA from Harvard University and a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia. She is the Board Chair of Musicopia and volunteers with local K-12 schools, living her belief that a well-rounded education elevates everyone.

stefani long headshot

Stephani Long

Chief Talent Officer for the Deloitte U.S. Firms

stefani long headshot

Stephani Long

Chief Talent Officer for the Deloitte U.S. Firms

stefani long headshot

Stephani Long is the Chief Talent Officer for the Deloitte U.S. Firms and has the responsibility to create a talent experience that engages 100,000+ Deloitte professionals. Stephani leads our Partner Matters and Talent organization and has broad responsibility for areas including HR strategy and transformation, talent operations, learning and development, total rewards, performance management and diversity, equity and inclusion. She is also a member of the US Executive Committee, Deloitte Foundation Board, and Board Director of Deloitte Support Services India Private Limited.

Previously, Stephani served as National Managing Director of Talent and Partner Matters for Deloitte Consulting LLP. She spearheaded complex transformations of several programs that brought innovative processes and new technologies to our professionals. Stephani also ran our U.S. Public Sector practice, which serves state and local governments as well as higher education clients and built long-term relationships over multi-year initiatives.  

In her more than 27 years at Deloitte, Stephani has earned a national reputation for delivering valued ideas and high-quality services to our clients across policy, program, people, and technology. Her background in the public sector and health and human services led to her work in helping California’s foster children get the support they need and find a path to higher education.

gwen murphy headshot

Gwen Murphy

Vice President, Storytelling Cisco Systems

gwen murphy headshot

Gwen Murphy

Vice President, Storytelling Cisco Systems

gwen murphy headshot

Gwen Murphy leads Storytelling for Cisco’s Global Communications organization. From communications intelligence, the management of the Cisco Newsroom and blogs, thought leadership and messaging, as well as digital experiences and enablement, the Storytelling team brings Cisco’s stories to life. 

During Gwen’s 20+ year career in tech, she has led a broad array of functional marketing and communications teams, helping global organizations solve their most complex business challenges and achieve their most ambitious goals. 

Gwen holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. A Boston native, she’s happily called the Bay Area home since 1994. When she’s not at work, you can often find her hiking the East Bay hills with her husband and their three children, and when possible, in the remote fishing village of Port Clyde, Maine.

brittany podolak headshot

Brittany Podolak

Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Dell Technologies Products & Operations

brittany podolak headshot

Brittany Podolak

Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Dell Technologies Products & Operations

brittany podolak headshot

Brittany Podolak is Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Dell Technologies Products & Operations organization. In this role, she serves as C-suite advisor to Dell’s Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officers and is responsible for leading a global team of HR business partners and organizational development experts in the delivery of an integrated human capital agenda for over 35,000 team members in 68 countries.

Since joining Dell Technologies in 1999, Brittany has served in various HR roles, including head of HR for Dell’s Global Services, Digital and Supply Chain organizations, head of Talent Acquisition for North and Latin America, and head of HR for Large Enterprise and Global Commercial sales and Latin America. 

Brittany and her team are now focused on institutionalizing practices to accelerate a shift in our workforce to 50% female globally and 40% underrepresented minorities in the US by 2030 while mobilizing talent to optimize services growth and delivery, advance digital-first marketing, and enable the Software-as-a-Service transformation.  

 

Brittany holds an MBA from San Diego State University and BBA in Marketing from Southern Methodist University. 

cate stevenson headshot

Cate Stevenson

Manager of Strategic Initiatives for Liberty Mutual’s Global Retail Markets

cate stevenson headshot

Cate Stevenson

Manager of Strategic Initiatives for Liberty Mutual’s Global Retail Markets

cate stevenson headshot

Cate Stevenson is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives for Liberty Mutual’ s Global Retail Markets, US Region (GRM US), a $24-billion business that provides personal lines and small commercial insurance across the US. She has been with Liberty Mutual since 2004. Prior to her role as Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Cate was the CFO of Global Retail Markets and has held various roles across Finance in her tenure at Liberty Mutual.
 
Cate is committed to Liberty Mutual’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mission and finds ways to enrich her work through the inclusion of a multitude of voices and enhancing the experiences of her colleagues. Cate is a co-chair for WE@Liberty, Liberty’s women’s employee resource group (ERG). Equally important, Cate actively participates in several of Liberty’s sponsorship programs focused on elevating under-represented talent within the company. 
 
Cate attended Bates College. She lives in Maine with her husband, 8-year-old son and chocolate lab. Cate and her family enjoy all things Maine—hiking, skiing, boating—and traveling and experiencing new and diverse cultures around the world.

Moderators

Kerry Seitz VP, Women’s Leadership Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kerry Seitz

Vice President, Women’s Leadership, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kerry Seitz VP, Women’s Leadership Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kerry Seitz

Vice President, Women’s Leadership, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kerry Seitz VP, Women’s Leadership Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kerry Seitz heads the development of Women’s Leadership programming at Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership. She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to produce innovative, research-based learning journeys that foster gender parity in organizational leadership worldwide. As a member of the Institute’s leadership team, Kerry is deeply committed to establishing the Institute as a global authority on the intersection of leadership, equity, and inclusion. A Certified Career Coach, Kerry began her work in leadership development as Principal of her own coaching business where she worked predominantly with women relaunching and redefining their career journey.

Outside of work, Kerry enjoys running, yoga, and spending time with her husband, three sons, and (female!) Labrador Retriever.

Elisa van Dam VP, Allyship & Inclusion Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Elisa van Dam

Vice President, Allyship & Inclusion, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Elisa van Dam VP, Allyship & Inclusion Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Elisa van Dam

Vice President, Allyship & Inclusion, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Elisa van Dam VP, Allyship & Inclusion Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Elisa van Dam brings a wealth of experience in gender equity and inclusion to her role as head of the Allyship and Inclusion practice area. Elisa works with organizations and individual leaders to increase their understanding and practice of inclusive leadership behaviors. In collaboration with other Institute Fellows, she creates and delivers research-based content and programming, based on our proprietary framework that demystifies the Work of the Inclusive Leader™.

She recently published The Inclusive Leader’s Playbook: The Work of the Inclusive Leader with co-author Susan MacKenty Brady.

Elisa also maintains a private coaching practice, working with women on how to successfully navigate maternity leave.

Elisa lives in the Boston area with her choreographer husband, their young adult son, and a willful rescue cat.

Co-Hosts

joyce kullhawik headshot

Joyce Kulhawik

Emmy Award-Winning Journalist

joyce kullhawik headshot

Joyce Kulhawik

Emmy Award-Winning Journalist

joyce kullhawik headshot

Joyce Kulhawik, best known as the Emmy Award-winning Arts & Entertainment Critic for CBS-Boston (WBZ-TV 1981-2008), has covered local and national events from Boston and Broadway to Hollywood and has co-hosted nationally-syndicated movie-review programs with Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin. As the first arts reporter/critic in the U.S. to appear every weeknight as part of a local TV news team, Kulhawik gave journalistic stature to arts reporting and greatly enhanced her station’s commitment to community service. She is currently President of The Boston Theater Critics Association and a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. Find her reviews online at JoycesChoices.com.

A 3x cancer survivor, Kulhawik testified before Congress on the 20th anniversary of The National Cancer Act and helped launch the American Cancer Society’s first HOPE LODGE in Boston, which provides free lodging for cancer patients. The ACS honored Kulhawik with its National Bronze Medal for her work. In 2010 Kulhawik received the New England Emmys Governor’s Award for her distinguished career, which includes Emmys for the WBZ series/campaign “You Gotta Have Arts!” and team coverage of the World Trade Center attacks, being among the first on the scene. The recipient of countless awards for her career and advocacy, Kulhawik has an endowed scholarship in her name at the Berklee College of Music, and is not only a graduate of Simmons College class of ’74 but also holds an Honorary Doctorate in Communications from her alma mater.

Kristen Palson headshot

Kristen Palson

COO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kristen Palson headshot

Kristen Palson

COO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kristen Palson headshot

Kristen serves as the COO of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership. She brings an innovative mind-set and fresh perspective leading with strategic, operational vision to ensure success. As a member of the Institute’s leadership team, Kristen offers a unique talent for saleable, creative solutions that mobilize resources and achieve breakthrough results. She shares a passion for this work as an authentic executive leader with expertise in cultivating individuals and teams to achieve their full potential while fostering a culture of allyship and inclusion.

Kristen also serves as the Institute’s head of Product Development where she helps clients across a wide range of industries and fields create customized experiences and learning journeys that meet their unique organizational goals. She is an expert in the creation of state-of-the-art programming in a choice of modalities: in-person, on-site, online – or blend of all three. She is passionate about learner-centered content delivery with actionable outcomes, appropriate assessments, and accessibility. Her unique background in theater infuses the design and delivery of every program with a high degree of creativity, energy, and hands-on engagement.

Kristen loves the stage and is especially passionate about children’s theater and all the incredible lifelong lessons that can be taught through the arts. She resides in the Boston area and is a proud single mother by choice raising her incredible daughter with the help of her amazing village of family and friends.

Program Schedule

April 13, 2022
Concurrent Sessions at 11:45 am EST
9:00 am EST

Welcoming Remarks

joyce kullhawik headshot

Joyce Kulhawik

Emmy Award-Winning Journalist

Kristen Palson headshot

Kristen Palson

COO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Our esteemed co-hosts kick things off, offering personal and professional insights into this year’s theme—Cultivating Courage and Connection—setting the stage for the exceptional women’s leadership lectures, events, and workshops ahead.

9:15 am EST

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: How to Be A Professional Troublemaker

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

New York Times Bestselling Author, Podcast Host & Professional Troublemaker

Luvvie Jones knows a thing or two about courage.  A self-proclaimed “Professional Troublemaker,” Luvvie is on a mission to call fear out and push us all to get “comfortable being uncomfortable.”  In our opening session, Luvvie will challenge us to live life loudly, with courage, conviction, humor, and honesty.   

9:45 am EST

Susan MacKenty Brady, Janet Foutty & Lynn Perry Wooten: World Debut of Arrive and Thrive

Susan MacKenty Brady Chair for Women and Leadership and CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership.

Susan MacKenty Brady

CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Janet Foutty Executive Chair of the Board of Deloitte US

Janet Foutty

Executive Chair of the Board, Deloitte US

Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten President of Simmons University

Lynn Perry Wooten

President, Simmons University

Kerry Seitz VP, Women’s Leadership Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Moderator: Kerry Seitz

Vice President, Women’s Leadership, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Leadership development has historically focused on the skills leaders need to advance up the ladder to the C-Suite. But what happens once you arrive?  How can you ensure you thrive? In this lively moderated discussion, the authors of the new book Arrive & Thrive—which debuts at our conference!—will share their expertise on how to navigate your leadership journey and succeed in the top job.

10:20 am EST

Networking Break

Network with peers from around the world and learn more about sponsor organizations in the virtual exhibit hall.

10:40 am EST

Amanda Gorman: Poem and Conversation on Courage and Connection

Amanda Gorman Headshot

Amanda Gorman

America's First Youth Poet Laureate

lynn perry wooten headshot

Lynn Perry Wooten

President, Simmons University

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman captured the attention of the world at President Joe Biden’s inauguration with her poem, “The Hill We Climb” that celebrates the ideals of a shared hope and collective purpose. In this morning’s keynote, Amanda shares an original poem inspired by our theme of Cultivating Courage and Connection. She also engages in a conversation with Simmons University President Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten about what it means to cultivate courage in today’s world. 

11:10 am EST

Morning Business Panel: Cultivating Courage

headshot of Jill Albertelli , President of Military Engines for Pratt & Whitney.

Jill Albertelli

President of Military Engines for Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business

headshot Brittany Podolak, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Dell Technologies Products & Operations organization

Brittany Podolak

Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Dell Technologies Products & Operations

Cate Stevenson is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives

Cate Stevenson

Manager of Strategic Initiatives for Liberty Mutual’ s Global Retail Markets

Elisa van Dam VP, Allyship & Inclusion Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Moderator: Elisa van Dam

Vice President, Allyship & Inclusion, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Brave is often an adjective used to describe inspiring and impactful leaders and organizations.  In this moderated discussion, top women business leaders share their personal stories on how they built their own muscles of courage. 

11:45 am EST

Skill Building Opportunities: Concurrent Sessions

In this practical skill-building session, choose one of three critical topics facing today’s leaders and explore it with a global expert. But don’t worry, you won’t miss out! Post-conference, you’ll also be able to access wisdom shared in the two sessions you didn’t attend via video on demand.

Topic Options:

  • Take Charge of your Wellbeing: Rediscover, Reinvest & Return to Your Best Self with Susan MacKenty Brady
  • Collaborate Faster and Further, Together with Erica Dhawan
  • Getting Along: Using Courage to Navigate Difficult Conversations and Improve Your Work and Your Relationships with Amy Gallo

 

12:30 pm EST

Lunch Break

Enjoy a 30-minute lunch break to refresh, renew, and refocus for the afternoon sessions.

1:00 pm EST

Second City Works: Building Authentic Connection

Second City Works Logo

The Second City Works

What is the key to establishing an authentic connection with others?  Adopting an others-focused mindset. By embracing curiosity, intentional listening, and empathic communication, your relationships will transcend transactions. In this fun and interactive session led by the world’s best improv theater, test your own communication skills and enhance your approach to building authentic connections at work.

1:30 pm EST

Molly Fletcher: How to Be Fearless

Molly Fletcher Headshot

Molly Fletcher

Renowned Speaker and Author

We are fascinated by the pros who perform at the highest level on the biggest stages. What sets them apart? Fearlessness. In this thought-provoking keynote, Molly Fletcher explains how fearlessness is a muscle you have to develop. Drawing on personal stories and experiences working with the world’s greatest athletes, she shows you how to overcome fear to reach peak performance.

2:00 pm EST

Afternoon Business Panel: Cultivating Connection

headshot of ebony lee, Ebony Lee Managing Director of Graduate Programs at 2U,

Ebony Lee

Managing Director of Degree Programs for 2U, Inc.

stefani long headshot

Stephani Long

Chief Talent Officer for the Deloitte U.S. Firms

gwen murphy headshot

Gwen Murphy

Vice President, Storytelling for Cisco Systems

Elisa van Dam VP, Allyship & Inclusion Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Moderator: Elisa van Dam

Vice President, Allyship & Inclusion, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

In business, as in life, the quality of a relationship is far more important than the quantity or volume of your network.  The need for authentic connections has become even more clear in the past two years as we navigate the pandemic world. In this moderated discussion, women business leaders share their own personal stories about the positive impact that forging strong connections has had on their career and personal well-being. 

2:30 pm EST

Networking Break

Network with peers from around the world and learn more about sponsor organizations in the virtual exhibit hall.

3:00 pm EST

Helen G. Drinan Visionary Leader Award

helen g drinan award graphic

Recipient of the 2022 Helen G. Drinan Visionary Award

Join us for the announcement of this year’s recipient of an annual award named in honor of Helen G. Drinan to honor a woman leader who embodies the values of inclusive leadership in her personal and professional life. Learn more from this year’s recipient about her inspiring leadership journey.

3:15 pm EST

Simone Biles and Brené Brown: Cultivating Courage and Connection

Simone Biles Headshot

Simone Biles

World’s Most Decorated Gymnast

Brene Brown headshot

Brené Brown

Researcher & Bestselling Author

Kerry Seitz VP, Women’s Leadership Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Moderator: Kerry Seitz

Vice President, Women's Leadership, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”  These words from Brené Brown certainly apply to the world stage on which Simone Biles prioritized her psychological and physical well being, triggering a critical global conversation about mental health and self-care.  In this powerful closing conversation, we will hear Simone’s story and learn from Dr. Brené Brown what it truly means to cultivate courage and connection. 

4:30 pm EST

Program End

11:45 am EST

Take Charge of your Wellbeing: Rediscover, Reinvest & Return to Your Best Self

Susan MacKenty Brady Chair for Women and Leadership and CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership.

Susan MacKenty Brady

CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

If you did a pulse check on yourself right now, who are you as your most centered best self? It is okay and common not to actually know! Susan MacKenty Brady and her colleagues at the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership think it’s imperative you find out. Investing in your best self encompasses leading and living your life from the optimal part of you.

Once you know you at your best, the job at hand is to learn how to consciously, and with intention, return to your best self over and over.  In this keynote, Susan — who has been called the “best-self-whisperer” by former clients — will teach you how with her signature compassion and clarity. 

11:45 am EST

Collaborate Faster and Further, Together

erica dhawan

Erica Dhawan

Expert on Leading, Selling and Communicating in a Hybrid World

We all leave a digital impression on each other.  If someone doesn’t text back for hours or even days, do you think they are being rude?  Is using an emoji or LOL unprofessional, or creating a human connection with your team?  What impression does your boss, team, or colleague think of that kind of behavior?  Whether your team works on separate floors, buildings or even countries, they have to connect online in order to collaborate.  These new misunderstandings are happening all day, every day.  They’re reducing your employee engagement, morale and team performance each time.  In this session, collaboration expert Erica Dhawan will teach you new rules and nuances of Digital Body Language, the new requirement to innovate faster and further together.

11:45 am EST

Getting Along: Using Courage to Navigate Difficult Conversations and Improve Your Work and Your Relationships

amy gallo headshop

Amy Gallo

Author, Podcast Host, and Expert in Conflict and Workplace Dynamics

Every day at work we navigate competing interests, clashing personalities, and fragile egos. We don’t leave our emotional selves behind when we walk into an office or log onto our laptops and we want to feel connected with our coworkers, clients, and team members, but it’s not always that easy. How can you handle tricky interactions in a way that is professional and productive? How can you speak up and advocate for yourself while also prioritizing your relationships with others? In this session, you’ll learn to identify the most common sources of conflict in work relationships, manage your emotions in heated moments, and prepare for and engage in difficult conversations with empathy, kindness, and compassion.


Registration Is Closed

Save the Date for 2023!

Registration for the 43rd Simmons Leadership Conference is closed.
Save the date for the 44th: March 14, 2023

A huge thank you to our sponsors for helping manifest equity, allyship and gender parity in leadership.

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Benefits of Sponsorship

Join the hundreds of organizations whose sponsorship has helped advance their growth and develop their team members into inclusive leaders. If you’re interested in learning more about the many benefits of becoming a sponsor, please contact Tracie Charland at 617-521-3830 or tracie.charland@simmons.edu

Raise your visibility

Enhance your organization’s commitment to women’s leadership, gender equity, diversity, and inclusion by spotlighting participation of conference delegates at media events.

Enhance your productivity

Improve team morale and return to work more motivated and equipped with innovative leadership tools and strategies. View Attendee Demographics

Recruit top talent

Network with more than 500 accomplished women leaders from all around the world who boast impeccable educations, career paths, and achievements.

Explore Our Conference History

Over the course of the day, inspiring keynote speakers offer candid stories about their experiences on the way to the top, as well as principles for success to help you pursue your own professional path.

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FAQ

Will the 2022 Simmons Leadership Conference be in-person or online?

Our April 13th, 2022 leadership conference will be fully virtual and participants can join online from anywhere in the world.

What will I learn? What will be included in the program?

Our 43rd annual conference will explore what it means to cultivate courage and connection to empower women to Arrive & Thrive™ in today’s business landscape. We design the content to be ideal for both aspiring and accomplished women leaders.

  • World-class speakers will inspire you with their personal journeys to the top of their fields
  • Thought-provoking panel discussions will build your knowledge of leadership best practices
  • Candid Q & As with top women leaders will provide expert advice and pro tips
  • You’ll also have opportunities to network with peers and meet sponsor organizations

It’s a great way to enhance your own leadership development and support the journey of others.

What’s included in the ticket price?

Your ticket includes a full-day (April 13th, 2022) of inspirational speakers, thought-provoking panel discussions, expert  leadership advice, networking opportunities with peers, and the chance to connect with sponsors in our exhibit hall.  You can also enhance your experience with pre-conference inspiration and community engagement online and post-conference on-demand video access to anything you’ve missed.

How can I buy tickets for a large group?

You can purchase tickets as an individual attendee, or your organization can sponsor you. Full details about ticket pricing will be available in the fall. If you’re interested in buying over 10 tickets, please contact Tracie Charland to learn about volume pricing at tracie.charland@simmons.edu.

What was the 2021 conference like?

Due to the global pandemic, last year’s leadership conference was held entirely online. Our theme was Inspiring Resilience and Authenticity, and our world-class lineup of speakers included Tiffany Dufu, Dr. Tererai Trent, Jenna Hager Bush and Mindy Kaling.  We enhanced a full day of conference events on March 23—keynote addresses, business panels, candid conversation and opportunities for virtual networking and exhibit hall visits—with a bonus Signature Series of speakers every Tuesday in April.

Keep up to date!

Join our mailing list to get updates on new speakers, conference agenda, breakout sessions, and more.