Women in Leadership Conference Unites Students, Alumni, and Community

this article was written by Kelly Newbrough

Attendees at the Women in Leadership conference gather for a photoIn this day and age it is important for women to unite. At this year’s 7th annual Women in Leadership conference, women joined together to inspire, learn, and engage carrying on the strong themes of the conference once again. On March 3, 2020 at the Turnbull Conference Center, the Women in Leadership conference hosted workshops for women to learn strategies and techniques for personal and professional growth, inspired women with a strong and diverse closing panel, and engaged with organizations on and off campus that are in Tallahassee. The conference was conveniently during Women’s History month and occurred only days before International Women’s day, so it was a great way to come together and celebrate these two important events. Over 250 members of the community, alumni, students, and faculty attended the conference that was sponsored by FSU College of Communication and Information, College of Business, College of Social Work, Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, and Social Catering.


Sharon Delaney McCloud Presenting at the Women in Leadership conferenceThe conference kicked off with a truly inspirational opening speaker, Sharon Delaney McCloud. The FSU alumna and TEDx Speaker spoke about having a voice and shared strategies that help amplify your voice. A few techniques included removing the filler words from your vocabulary, the right area to have your hands in while speaking, and even having a pre-meeting with other women to strengthen your voice when your professional environment is mainly men.

After some refreshments and workshops, our main panel wrapped everything up with emphasis on community and government involvement, mentorships, and great advice for women starting on in their careers. The panel included:

  • Moderator: Sharon Delaney McCloud, Partner & VP of Professional Development, Walk West
  • Helen Levin, Regional Vice Chancellor for External Affairs, University of South Florida St. Petersburg
  • Laurie Massaglia, Owner, Foundations for the Future Inc. & GoHorse.com LLC
  • Melode Smelko, Vice President, President & CEO, Altrua Global Solutions
  • Michelle Winokur, President, MW Consulting & Evaluation


Workshop at the Women in Leadership conferenceThe 40-minute workshops this year included the following topics:

  • Investing in YOU and Leading others: Leadership in Communication Fields
  • Getting to the table and finding your voice
  • The X Factor – Women in Business (global influencers)
  • Finding and Working With Partners in Entrepreneurship
  • Work-Life Balance: Creating Personal Resilience
  • Generational Leadership
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • It’s All Relative – Business and Family
  • Getting Involved Locally: Your community of mentors

Isabella Escobar, a student volunteer, said, “The Women in Leadership Conference was such a great experience! I got to learn so many helpful tips and skill sets from various inspirational women during the workshops that will help me grow my career as a woman and as a leader.”


Community engagement at the Women in Leadership ConferenceTo help women engage with their community, there were plenty of organizations that tabled and were there to help promote involvement and networking. The community groups and student groups that tabled during the event include:

Community Groups:

  • Girls on the Run
  • Oasis Center for Women & Girls
  • Women in Transportation
  • Junior League of Tallahassee
  • Voices for Florida
  • Ladies Learning to Lead
  • Career Source Capital Region
  • Dare to Dream Young Girls Network
  • Women 4FSU
  • League of Women Voters of Tallahassee

Student Groups:

  • League of Women Voters FSU Chapter
  • Empowering Women Globally
  • FSU Women Student Union
  • Women in ICT/IT Sharing Experiences (WISE)
  • Women Wednesdays
  • HerCampus
  • H.I.C.S
  • Women in Business
  • Women in Pre-Law Society

Hollyn Saliga, the recruitment chair for the on-campus organization Women in IT/ICT Sharing Experiences (WISE), said, “It was a great experience tabling at a women’s leadership event specifically because the intentionality and desire to form connections with everyone we talked to was so evident, even more so than when on campus”

For student organizer Rhiannon Jacobson this was her third Women in Leadership Conference. “I love this event because it’s an amazing opportunity for women in our community to get together to network, inspire, and learn from each other,” she said. “I’ve definitely become more prepared and confident, especially as I am starting my professional career.”