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Be Amazing Symposium is Amazing

wlsBe Amazing . . . The Second Annual Women’s Leadership Symposium drew some 800 women (and a few men) to Cleveland’s Public Auditorium for a day of inspirational, thought-provoking talks; shared meals and conversations; and renewal of drive and spirit. Collectively, guests and presenters represented a breadth and depth of talent and leadership that ranged from a woman running her own construction company to women thriving in the arts to entrepreneurs, lawyers, and authors.

Highlights included:

  • A keynote address by alumna Rachel Talton, BA ’02/MBA ’04, describing the personal tragedy she overcame before starting her company, Flourish Leadership, as a “safe space where women could come together, be uplifted and not feel empty.”
  • A keynote address by Nancy Frates, “the mom behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” who shared a moving account of her 27-year-old son’s ALS diagnosis and how he chose to chronicle his illness to raise awareness of the degenerative disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $200 million for ALS research.
    “He wakes up every morning and is proactive and positive. It’s a choice we make every day,” Frates told a rapt audience. “Once you have hope, you’re going to get yourself to the finish line.”
  • Seven panels with 40 speakers; nine breakout sessions with 12 presenters; and an expo with representatives of some 50 organizations.

Dream Big, Seize the Moment and Believe in the Possibilities were the themes for programs ranging from “Beyond Rosie the Riveter” and “In the ‘C’ Suite” to “Emotionally Intelligent Leadership” and “Stay Out of Your Own Way.”

fratesIn a breakout titled “Women in Retirement: Challenges and Opportunities,” Nan Cohen, CEO of Creekside Financial Advisors, talked about time, talent and treasure. “Success is dependent on how you respect and deploy your time . . . take your treasure and invest in your talent,” she said.

In a panel discussion titled “Business 101 for Lawyers,” Sonali Wilson, general counsel for CSU, referenced the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she said “In law, we are supposed to be the drum majors for justice, (yet) this is the profession that is behind all others in terms of diversity and justice.”

CSU alumna Shanette Buford Brazzell, BA ’13, manager of special events at United Way of Greater Cleveland, served on a panel titled “Women of Color: Aspiring and Inspiring.” She implored young women in the audience to “develop a quarterly list of goals, keep a journal and surround yourself with people who can uplift you daily.”

The symposium was co-sponsored by CSU’s Alumni Association and Division of Student Affairs, the Ohio University Alumni Association, and OU’s alumnae group, ohiowomen.

Alumnae at both OU and CSU have expressed interest in leadership development and in networking across generations, notes Brian Breittholz, assistant vice president, alumni relations, and executive director, CSU Alumni Association, and Jennifer Neubauer, assistant vice president, alumni relations, and executive director, OHIO Alumni Association.

“The offerings at the symposium went far past the traditional ‘You go girl’ fare that too many women’s conferences rely upon,” said Neubauer. Instead, the symposium offered “smart, thought-provoking dialogue that addressed the challenges women face personally and professionally.”

Added Breittholz, “Cleveland State and Ohio University both have extraordinary alumnae and students engaged in many vibrant leadership roles in northeast Ohio. We were delighted to partner with OU on this extraordinary event.”

Join Us

Join us for our 2017 Women’s Leadership Symposium on Wednesday, April 12, at Wolstein Center. Details will be posted at as they become available.

Participants posted inspirational words they heard and their own reactions throughout the day on social media.
Among the comments:

“It is always wonderful to be surrounded by women making a positive impact in their companies, community and world. I especially enjoyed the presentation on how gender stereotypes threaten women’s success and can lead us to self-sabotage.”

“Thanks for the most relevant women’s leadership conference to date in my professional career.”

“Thank you. This reenforced how many opportunities there are to make a difference.”

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