Courage to Create Impact: 6 Actionable Takeaways from #SLC45

By Kristen Palson
May 9, 2024


Whether you aspire to create impact on your team, your organization, your community – or globally, the signature sessions at the 45th Simmons Leadership Conference (#SLC45) offered a unique combination of in-depth expertise and lived experiences along with actionable strategies designed to empower our attendees to think differently about how to chart a meaningful path forward in their careers and lives.

From Shabana Basij-Rasikh’s harrowing experience evacuating more than 250 students, staff and family members from danger in Afghanistan to Elisa van Dam and Dr. Gary Bailey’s action-oriented session focused on helping each of us amplify our roles as allies, our sessions were focused on living and leading inclusively – and creating impact by living out our purpose.

We couldn’t be more proud to bring this important work forward during a time when driving impact and creating inclusive work cultures is more critical than ever before. In this blog we’re sharing ideas of actionable strategies that you can put to use. We are thrilled to be alongside you creating impact, one day and one leader at a time.



#SLC45 Signature Session

Shabana Basij-Rasikh


Think of ways in which you can make a difference in your community, particularly around educational access. Donate books, voluteer your time and expertise.

Girls Rights

Dare to Educate: Impact that Inspires

Raised in Kabul during the Taliban’s first regime, Shabana Basij-Rasikh has dedicated her entire adult life to educating Afghan girls. She is the co-founder and president of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) – the first and only boarding school for Afghan girls, operating in Kabul from 2016 through the summer of 2021. In this deeply moving talk, Shabana shared the harrowing story of evacuating more than 250 students, staff and family members from SOLA to Rwanda after the Taliban took power in 2021. Shabana shared her experiences to help amplify the voices of countless individuals striving to create a positive impact in the face of adversity. Her story serves as a testament to the transformative power of education in empowering individuals and shaping brighter futures.

#SLC45 Signature Session

Susan MacKenty Brady


Over the next week, pay attention to how you react to certain situations as they come up at work and at home. Practice these four steps to return to your Compassion Zone: 1) Notice your thought process; 2) Take deep breaths; 3) Engage your inner coach; 4) Act from your best self.

Best Self
Thriving at Work

Thriving with Impact: Creating a Best Self Team Culture

Being intentional about how you show up can skyrocket your career, your leadership journey, and your team success. In this breakout, best-selling author of Arrive & Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership and Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership CEO Susan MacKenty Brady shares insight into how to uncover your Best Self… this is where your strengths and talents intersect with what brings you joy and vitality and where you bring value to others. At the core of a thriving team are individuals who can invest in and return to their Best Selves, and encourage others to do so as well. Learn more about bringing this offering to your organization.

#SLC45 Signature Session

Audra Bohannon


Write down every single person you nurture, support, and take care of, even your animals. Did you put your name on the list? Were you at the top or were you at the bottom?


Are you Ready? What It Takes To Make an Impact

This deeply reflective, highly interactive session with DEI thought leader and executive coach Audra Bohannon guided us toward recognizing and understanding how to make a meaningful impact in our lives. As we think about our own leadership, growth, and the impact that we want to make, we need to do it within the context of the work that we’re doing. Once we understand the world that we are living in, we can begin to build everything around it, especially when we make ourselves part of the equation. Through big picture prompts, small group conversations, and a laser focus on how to link our behavior to our intentions, we can identify and tap into our own capacity to do the things that we say we want to do.

#SLC45 Signature Session

Lisa Carmen Wang


Take the radical self-responsibility pledge. “I take radical self-responsibility for my thoughts, feelings and actions-under no circumstances will I blame others. I am the author of my own story. I am the master of my own reality.”


Break Free of Good Girl Brainwashing & Embrace Your Power to Lead

If you struggle with people-pleasing, perfectionism, or prioritizing other people before yourself, chances are you’ve been subjected to what Lisa Carmen Wang describes as “Good Girl Brainwashing.” In this session, Lisa helped us learn how to identify and release the good girl habits that sabotage our confidence and instead embrace power over perfection to take decisive action. Lisa also shared how to leave behind the competitive zero-sum system driven by fear and scarcity, and replace it with a new world order where powerful women lead to collectively build a system of financial abundance and global impact.

#SLC45 Signature Session

Heather R. Younger


In your next conversation, observe yourself. Are you really listening? Ask yourself why you are listening and remind yourself to seek to understand what the other person needs. Practice paraphrasing what you hear and adding what you noticed about how they felt. Take the caring leadership quiz.


Create Impact through the Art of Active Listening

In this session, Heather R. Younger broke down the art of “active listening” – a process that goes beyond understanding, ensuring that we leave every interaction with valuable insights. Discover the one success characteristic that will propel you towards your goals and turn every workplace scenario into a win-win situation. Get ready to be seen, heard, and valued like never before.  In this session, Heather shared tips for creating a lasting impact and forging stronger connections at work.

#SLC45 Signature Session

Elisa van Dam & Dr. Gary Bailey


In your next team meeting, implement one or more of the meeting norms (or if you aren’t running the meeting, suggest a norm to the meeting leader).


Inclusive Leadership in Action

If you’re on a journey to become a more inclusive leader, but you aren’t sure exactly what steps to take, you’re not alone! In this interactive and action-oriented session, Elisa van Dam, the Institute’s VP for Allyship and Inclusion, and Dr. Gary Bailey, Professor and MSW Program Director of the Simmons University School of Social Work, shared the 6 Actions of the Work of the Inclusive Leader™. Together, we explored ways in which we are already acting as an ally and upstander, and offered a game plan for changes that we can implement immediately to increase inclusion and belonging for ourselves and our team.


SLC45: Available Now with Video on Demand

These are just a few of the memorable moments brought to you by #SLC45. Together, we are creating a more inclusive workforce—and world, one conversation at a time. We are humbled and grateful to be alongside you on this journey and hope to see you in Boston on May 1, 2025 for #SLC46! In the meantime, you can purchase the entire program through Video on Demand.