Women's Leadership Symposium


Women's Leadership Symposium

  • April 13, 2016
  • 8:00 AM

NEW VENUE! Now at Cleveland Public Auditorium 500 Lakeside Ave. Cleveland

Join us for a day of empowerment, inspiration and networking across generations at Be Amazing… The Second Annual Women’s Leadership Symposium.

Acclaimed keynote speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions will explore the many attributes that help women succeed in business, government, academia, the arts, sciences, sports, the armed forces and other sectors. Panel and workshop discussions will range from the aspirational to the practical, tackling topics including women in entrepreneurship, women in salary negotiations, LGBTQ rights, and emotionally intelligent leadership.

The symposium also includes a career fair for companies and organizations interested in recruiting top female talent and a women’s expo, featuring organizations committed to advancing women’s interests and causes.

Attend the morning only, afternoon only, or the full day with lunch.

CSU Alumni Association is proud to announce an exciting partnership with the Ohio University Alumni Association to deliver this compelling event. Cleveland State and Ohio University both have extraordinary alumnae and students engaged in many vibrant leadership roles in Northeast Ohio.

Keynote Speakers

Our morning will feature Dr. Rachel Talton, CTO (Chief Transformation Officer) of Flourish Leadership and the Flourish Conference for Women in Leadership. Dr. Talton literally wrote the book on thriving in the business world. Three books, actually: Beyond Extraordinary: A Blueprint to Flourish in Business and in Life; The Currency of Passion; and her newest,  Flourish: Have it All Without Losing Yourself. Dr. Talton earned her doctorate in management from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, where she also serves as adjunct professor of marketing. In addition to her academic pursuits, writing and her work in inspiring others to flourish, Dr. Talton is Chief Executive Officer of Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research, Inc., a brand strategy and market research consultancy that helps organizations improve market share, share of wallet and share of heart.  She is sure to challenge, encourage and inspire her audience!

Nancy Frates, the “Mom behind the Ice Bucket Challenge,” will kick-off the afternoon portion of the Symposium. In 2012 Ms. Frates’ athletic 27-year old son, Pete, was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Inspired by Pete – who chose to view his disease as an opportunity to do good – Ms. Frates and her supporters launched the now-famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. They found their sense of purpose in working tirelessly to raise awareness about ALS and to raise funds for research. The challenge went viral, raising more than $160 million for ALS research. Ms. Frates went viral too, as groups across the country began inviting her to speak…  and inspire.

Panel Discussions and Breakout Sessions

Participants will experience a day designed to broaden horizons, explore new possibilities, network with others with shared passions and interests, and pay it forward for future generations of talented women.


7:00 - 8:00 a.m. Check-in/Registration 
8:00 - 9:15 a.m. Welcome Remarks & Keynote Address by Dr. Rachel Talton 
9:30 - 10:45 a.m. Industry/Interest Panels and Presentations 
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Women’s Expo and Career Fair
11:00 -11:45 a.m. Topical Workshops

Morning Panels: 

Beyond Rosie the Riveter:  Women Strive and Thrive in Traditional Male Occupations
Women advancing in fields like athletics, science and heavy industry address specific challenges they face.

  • Virnette House-Browning* - Senior Associate Athletics Director/CSU Athletics Department
  • Amy Backus - Athletic Director, Case Western Reserve University
  • Tara Heidger - Sergeant First Class, US Army Special Operations Command
  • Ariane Kirkpatrick - Owner & President, The AKA Team
  • Cynthia Burke - Vice President Corporate Systems Worldwide, Eaton Corporation 
  • Gloria Chaney - Chaplain, Cleveland Police Department; Associate Minister, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
  • Annette M. Mecklenburg - Chief, Cleveland Heights Police Department 

In the “C” Suite:  Leading Women in Northeast Ohio Share their Insights It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top; women leaders share insights into running their organizations.

  • Elizabeth McIntyre* - Acting Publisher and Editor, Crain’s Cleveland Business
  • Lori Varlotta - President, Hiram College
  • Geralyn Presti - Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary Forest City Realty Trust, Inc.
  • Lisa Rose - President, Dix & Eaton
  • Sally Farwell - President and CEO, Achievement Centers for Children
  • Barbara Danforth - Senior Vice President, Ratliff & Taylor
  • Diane Downing - COO, RNC Host Committee; Senior Vice President, Huntington Bank

Women’s Cultures and Religions:  Embracing Differences and Similarities
Panelists discuss the many different ways women can influence and lead in their faith communities.

  • Lisa Gaynier* - Director, Diversity Managment Program, CSU
  • The Very Reverend Tracey Lind - Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral 
  • Julia Shearson - Executive Director, Cleveland Chapter of Council on American & Islamic Relations
  • Rabbi Rosette Barron Haim - The Temple-Tifereth Israel
  • Pastor Michelle Trotter - House of Jubilee Ministries
  • Marlene De La Cruz-Guzmán - Director, Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention, OU
  • Cory Crawford - Assistant Professor, Classics & World Religions, OU


Morning Breakout Sessions:

Beyond Marriage Equality:  What’s Next for Today’s LGBTQ Community? We’ll explore where, despite last summer’s Supreme Court ruling, discrimination persists and how to tackle it.

  • Sandra J. Anderson - Chair, OU Board of Trustees; Chair, Equality Ohio Education Fund
  • Alana Jochum - Managing Director, Equality Ohio

Women in Retirement:  Challenges and Opportunities Financial planner Nan Cohen will help you plan for the retirement that suits you.

  • Nan Cohen - CEO and Financial Planner, Creekside Financial Advisors, LLC
  • Daria Roebuck - Retired Vice President Human Resources, ERICO International

Coming Together: Using a voice to find community in the battle against and treatment of breast cancer It takes a village to face down breast cancer: our presenters will share personal stories and the latest in medical research.

  • Nicole Phillips - Newspaper columnist, blogger, speaker and advocate for those fighting cancer
  • Saul Phillips - Head Coach, Men’s Basketball Program, OU
  • Monica Burdick - Associate Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, OU

Women and Popular Media: From Sports Illustrated to Playboy, a journalist’s eye view The way women are portrayed in mass media is changing… isn’t it? We’ll explore.

  • Joe Donatelli - Sex and Culture Editor, Playboy magazine


11:45 - 1:15 p.m. Lunch and Featured Address by Ms. Nancy Frates
1:30 - 2:45 p.m. Industry/Interest Panels and Presentations
3:00 - 3:45 p.m. Topical Workshops
3:50 - 4:00 p.m. Closing Remarks/Wrap-up

Afternoon Panels:

Women of Color:  Aspiring and Inspiring Panelists will describe the inspirations and aspirations that led them on their career journey.

  • Jejuana Brown* - Coordinator, Project Faciliation, FAST Department, CSU
  • Annette Butler - Owner, Butler Law Firm; Assistant Law Director, City of Cleveland
  • Erica Merritt - Director, Culture & Strategy, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Wanda C. Jones - Partner, Axner, Friedman & Jones LLP
  • Jamie Elwell - Leadership Development Consultant, Progressive Insurance
  • Shanette Buford-Brazzell - Manager, Special Events, United Way

Business 101 for lawyers:  Understanding how law departments and law firms do business We’ll hear firsthand from women attorneys about the opportunities they’ve seized and obstacles they’ve faced.

  • Sarah Flannery* - Partner & Firmwide Chair, Spotlight on Women, Thompson Hine
  • Theresa Metcalf Beasley - Partner, Calfee
  • Diane Citrino - Partner, Giffen & Kaminski
  • Sonali Wilson - General Counsel, CSU

Upstarts and Start-ups:  Women Making it in Business and Entrepreneurship From securing financing to impressing the corporate office, women in entrepreneurship and business share experiences and best practices.

  • Linda Kane* - Retired Senior Vice President, Forest City Realty Trust Inc.
  • Susan Vasu - Practice Manager, Financial Advisor, Landing Point Financial Group
  • Myah Irick - Vice President and Private Banker, J.P. Morgan 
  • Stephanie McHenry - Vice President, Business Affairs and Finance and CFO, CSU
  • Radhika Reddy - Partner, Ariel Ventures, LLC
  • LaShawn Reed - Director Corporate Partnerships, Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council
  • Amie Palffy - Senior Partner, Skylight Financial Group
  • Amy Taylor-Bianco - Asssociate Professor of Management & Executive Academic Director for the 
  • Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership, OU
  • Heather Lawrence-Benedict - Associate Professor, Sports Administration, OU

Creativity Pays:  Succeeding in the Arts, Entertainment, and the Media

Forget the notion of the starving artist; these women are thriving in creative careers.

  • Kathleen Cerveny* - Retired Arts Program Officer; Winner, Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Arts Prize recipient and 2013-14 Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights
  • Gina Vernaci - Executive Producer, Playhouse Square
  • Linda Feagler - Senior Editor, Ohio Magazine
  • Liz Maugans - President & CEO, Zygote Press
  • NIkki Byrd - Senior Editor, American Greetings


Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Stay Out of Your Own Way: How Gender Stereotypes Threaten Our Success

Arm yourself with the right attitude, confidence, language and evidence to negotiate your salary.

  • Geneva Murray - Director, Ohio University Women's Center

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Author and leadership expert Marcy Levy Shankman explains that leadership is a learnable skill based on developing healthy and effective relationships.

  • Marcy Levy Shankman - VP of Strategy and Director of Leadership Cleveland, Cleveland Leadership Center

Defense Against the Digital Dark Arts: Protecting Yourself and Your Identity Online Learn how to protect yourself from online bullying in this timely session.

  • Michelle Ferrier - Scripps Associate Dean for Innovation, Research/Creative Activity and Graduate Studies, OU

Aging across the Lifespan: What Every Woman Should Know Prepare yourself to stay active, healthy, and engaged for life.

  • Katherine Judge - Associate Professor, Director, Adult Development and Aging Doctoral Program; Senior Research Scientist, MBRI; CSU

Sexism and Gender Roles: Advice and stories from OHIO's Dean of Students Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones shares her wisdom and advice on addressing sexism as it relates to gender roles in society. 

  • Jenny Hall-Jones - Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, OU

You Choose

Participate in the morning sessions, the afternoon sessions, or all-day with three price options:

Morning Session (includes breakfast)

$25 alumnae and faculty/staff (CSU/OHIO) 
$35 General Registration (guests) 
Students (currently enrolled) are eligible for sponsored participation at no charge.

Afternoon Session (includes lunch)

$25 alumnae and faculty/staff (CSU/OHIO)
$35 General Registration (guests) 
Students (currently enrolled) are eligible for sponsored participation at no charge.

All-Day (Morning and Afternoon sessions—includes breakfast and lunch)

$45 alumnae and faculty/staff (CSU/OHIO) 
$65 General Registration (guests)

Women’s Expo

From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., organizations committed to advancing women’s interests and causes will be exhibiting in Cleveland Public Auditorium. To learn more about opportunities to exhibit, contact Kathleen Piper (216) 687-2078 or k.a.piper16@csuohio.edu.


Willard Garage, located at 601 Lakeside Avenue, is the closest recommended parking location. Click here for links to parking options near Public Auditorium.

Shuttle from CSU Campus

Cleveland State will provide free shuttle service. Shuttle service will begin at 6:30 am and will continue 30 minute loops throughout the day. The stops for the shuttle will be:

CSU Student Center:  Corner of E. 21st and Euclid Avenue on the west side of the street

CSU South Garage:     Located at 2101 E. 21st street.  Entrance to the garage is on East 21st which is one way southbound.  Passengers can access the shuttle on the corner of E. 21st and Carnegie.

Cleveland Public Auditorium:  Drop off and pick up on Lakeside Ave.