Center co-sponsors fourth annual Women’s Leadership Retreat

More than 40 women of various backgrounds and disciplines attended Iowa State University’s fourth annual Women’s Leadership Retreat, a one-day event for students held Jan. 11 in Hach Hall.

The program opened with keynote speaker Valerie Hennings, scholar-in-residence at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and adjunct assistant professor of political science. Hennings debunked myths about women in today’s workplace with statistics from her research on women in leadership. Participants asked lots of questions and enjoyed sharing their own leadership experiences.

In addition to the keynote presentation, attendees participated in a presentation on the "true colors" personality test by Stephanie Salasek, associate director of admissions at Iowa State, and learned about networking from Tammy Stegman, coordinator in the College of Business career services office, during lunch.

Four break-out sessions were offered in the afternoon. Elizabeth Hoffman, former executive vice president and provost and professor of economics, explained the process of negotiating; Michelle Boettcher, assistant dean of students, taught the students how to handle conflict; Aja Holmes, graduate teaching assistant and doctoral student in education, covered the topic of supervision; and Jennifer Margrett, director of ISU’s gerontology program and associate professor of human development and family studies, emphasized the value of mentorship. Participants chose two of the four break-out sessions they wished to attend.

The day ended with a panel presentation by community leaders Kim Linduska, executive vice president of academic affairs at Des Moines Area Community College; Mary Claire Lokken, co-founder/co-owner of PCI Academy; and Kris Fish Kuhlman, executive director of the Iowa 4-H Foundation. Panelists – with experiences in the areas of academic administration, entrepreneurship and a non-profit organization – shared their leadership stories.

The retreat was sponsored and coordinated by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and the Student Activities Center (SAC). A committee comprised of Kristine Keil, public relations/student program coordinator for the Catt Center; Som Mongtin, interim director of the Women’s Center; and Kevin Merrill, leadership and service coordinator for the SAC; planned the retreat with assistance from three graduate assistants – Jenni McDermott, Matt Drilling and Tim Reuter.

“We made quite a few programming changes from last year, and it resulted in a really great retreat,” Keil said. “We worked very hard to make sure this year’s program was informative and allowed attendees to learn about their own leadership style.”

As in previous years, the goals of the retreat were to bring a group of female students interested in leadership together with women leaders on campus and in the community, to empower female students to take on leadership roles, and to help participants develop leadership skills and student-to-student and student-to-speaker relationships.

The Women’s Leadership Retreat was created in 2011 by Julie Snyder-Yuly, then-assistant director of the Catt Center, and Jennifer Garrett Nissen, then-program coordinator for the SAC. They developed the idea to create a collaborative activity between campus programs focusing on women and leadership.