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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.

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.

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 x 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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

More Coming Soon!

More Coming Soon!

Moderators

Kerry Seitz headshot

Kerry Seitz

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

Kerry Seitz headshot

Kerry Seitz

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

Kerry Seitz headshot

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 headshot

Elisa van Dam

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

Elisa Van Dam headshot

Elisa van Dam

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

Elisa Van Dam headshot

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

Chief Operating Officer, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kristen Palson headshot

Kristen Palson

Chief Operating Officer, Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

Kristen Palson headshot

Kristen helps clients across a wide range of industries and fields create customized learning journeys that meet their unique organizational goals. She and her team partner with renowned subject matter experts to create state-of-the-art programming in a choice of modalities: in-person, on-site, online—or blend of all three. Kristen’s focus is on learner-centered content 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 brings over 15 years of experience in strategic development, operational planning, and high-performance talent management to the Institute’s Senior Leadership team. She spearheads the Institute’s ongoing exploration of technology-enhanced learning solutions balancing client needs, Institute resources, and scalable growth.

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.

Buy Your Tickets Today!

Register as an Individual

Individual ticket prices start at $499. Discounts apply for sponsoring organizations, nonprofits, and Simmons University alumnx, students, and staff.

Register as a Group

Interested in purchasing tickets for a group of more than 10 people? Email Tracie Charland using the button below to learn more about our volume pricing options.

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.

audience at a slc event

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.