Kennesaw State University just hired their first football program coach, and on March 27, the Marietta Daily Journal reported that they would begin recruiting players as early as April 15. But in 2000, KSU was beginning a different program, and it was geared toward coaching women and men in ethics and leadership. And in March they held their 13th annual Phenomenal Women’s Conference as a result.
And it is all thanks to Betty Siegel, of whom the Siegel Institute was named, because she aspired to create a platform for ethics and leadership promotion for the KSU campus. In 2000 that dream was realized.
The Institute would go on to hold their first “Phenomenal Women’s Conference” that year. Siegel has long since retired as one of the university’s most beloved presidents, but her mark lives on, no more evident than this month, when the women’s conference held its 13th annual event, still committed to promoting ethical leadership.
And Dr. Linda Johnston, the executive director of the Institute, points out this year a little-known fact about the annual event.
This conference is unique in that it attracts women and men from business, the non-profit sector, education, etc.
Many people assumed it was an all-women event because of the title of the conference, and that men do not participate in any way, but Dr. Johnston clarified that point recently.
This year’s ‘Phenomenal Women’s Conference’ provided an opportunity for women and men to get together to discuss the accomplishments of women and also the challenges that women still face.”
And she further emphasized that “with the personal and professional tracts, there is something of interest to everyone.”
Indeed, there certainly was, as this year’s conference included workshops and lectures on how memory art helped one artist overcome her terminally ill daughter’s deteriorating health condition. And there were also workshops that provided opportunities to learn how to energize your day, how to be heard in the workplace, and the steps to take in order to make positive changes in one’s life.
Factor in the workshops about adopting the “I can” philosophy, the talk about the need for women to be “change agents” in the community (by the Coles College of Business Dean Kathy Stewart Schwaig), and the presentation about how women are misrepresented in the media (by Dr. Elizabeth Hackett of Agnes Scott), and you get an idea of the diverse topics discussed in the one-day annual event.
And there was also a lecture by Erik Malewski, the KSU Chief Diversity Officer, who spoke about gendered leadership visions, reinforcing Dr. Johnston’s comment that the conference “provided an opportunity for women and men to get together” in order to talk about what women have achieved and what they still face as challenges personally and professionally.
As with most things in life, there are always the behind-the-scenes people when projects get underway, like the new KSU football program, or when annual events are planned after a program’s creation, like with the women’s conference. And that’s where Joann Trodahl comes into the picture.
Trodahl is not only the admissions counselor for the Siegel Institute; she is also the program coordinator events information contact person. And she had this to say about the event this year.
It’s been my pleasure to be involved with the Phenomenal Women’s Conference for the past 13 years. Each year brings together a different group of speakers and workshop leaders who bring their talents and enthusiasm to conference participants. This year’s conference was no exception.”
One participant, Cheryl Betts, who also happens to work on the campus and has attended the event for the past four years, shared her thoughts about the conference with the Atlanta Pop Culture Examiner.
Betts said that how she came to be involved in attending the conference was a result of being displaced by Hurricane Ivan. After moving to Georgia from Florida due to that natural disaster, she was encouraged to broaden her network of contacts and support by her supervisor in the KSU Federal Work Study Program.
It was one woman seeking to help another. And after that first year of attendance, Cheryl was hooked, choosing to attend three more years in a row, with this being her fourth year of attendance. “It gets better and better” every year, she said.
And Betts stressed that she likes that they have two different workshops running simultaneously at the conference, allowing the attendee to go to the one that best fits her personal or professional goals for that year. But some women want to attend both and can’t, of course, so the Siegel Institute addressed that issue by now offering some preconference workshops in advance of the annual event.
Next year’s Phenomenal Women’s Conference date has been set: March 21, 2014. But the speakers names and topics have not yet been formalized, nor the preconference schedule. Details will follow from the Atlanta Pop Culture Examiner as soon as they are available, so be sure to click on the subscribe button at the bottom of this page or follow her on Facebook.
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