AMANDA TRAUTMANN — The first annual Women’s Leadership Development Conference was hosted this past Saturday, March 9, in Burton Morgan Hall.

In order to make this event happen Trinidy Jeter from the CLIC office partnered with different offices across campus including the Office of Gender and Sexuality and the Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement. The committees for the event were made up of members of those offices on campus, other Denison staff members, as well as individual students.

The conference began with a breakfast and opening remarks by organizer Trinidy Jeter. Afterward, three sections of concurrent sessions were hosted in various rooms on the second floor. Each session lasted approximately fifty minutes. Each person registered was able to attend three sessions in total. Some of the sessions included: Footprints of a Victorious Leader, Beyond Diversity & Inclusion: Creating a Culture of Belonging at Denison University, Bringing Voice and Vision as We Seek Our Place at the Table: Growing Our Strengths as APIDA Women, Identifying Your Leadership Image, Basic Networking Skills: How to NETWORK like a Pro, Transgender Women in the Workforce, Purpose Driven Hustle, Self-Care is a Feminist Act, Decolonizing Women’s Health and Health Experiences, and a Roundtable Discussion: Asian and Asian-American Experience at Denison.

After the sessions were concluded everyone reconvened in Knobel Hall for a lunch and leadership panel. This panel featured: Dr. Laurel Kennedy, Vice President of Student Development, Dr. Kimberly Coplin ’85, Provost of Denison University, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics and Nan Carney-DeBord ’80, Associate Vice President & Director of Athletics.

At the registration table was a space for women to donate their gently used bras to help support the Free The Girls initiative. Free The Girls is an international non-profit organization devoted to working with sex trafficking survivors towards a path to true freedom. With holistic reintegration programs and economic opportunity through bras to be sold by the women as secondhand, they offer the opportunity for these women to empower themselves to change the trajectory of their lives. The program works one-on-one with each budding entrepreneur in areas like inventory management, budgeting, and financial planning for future dreams and goals they want to achieve.

The conference is the first of a series in events to be hosted by the Denison EmpowHERment Experience Program. It is an initiative designed to explore and transform the leadership of women through ongoing experiences. This program, DEEP, hopes to organize various events during the course of the school year which will culminate in another Women’s Leadership Development Conference next year. The program defines leadership as the distinct ways in which leaders use their development of self-awareness and social identities to interact and shape the world around them. Leadership is implementing a vision within organizations and society with the intention of promoting holistic wellness and justice for self and others. To explore one’s leadership style through the program is to design one’s own leadership experience based on the three components: personal leadership, interpersonal leadership, and organizational/societal leadership. For more information visit the Facebook page for Denison EmpowHERment Experience Program, or follow them on Instagram @denempowherment.