Women Lead 2020 aims to help women claim their power

· 4 min read

Women Lead 2020 aims to help women claim their power


The CEO of the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and the general counsel for The New York Public Library will be among the headliners at a women’s leadership conference March 6 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Women Lead 2020, a joint effort by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Business and the University of Nebraska College of Law, also will feature several prominent female leaders from across the country, such as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, former Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire and Microsoft executive DeLee Shoemaker, as well as some of Nebraska’s top female officials, including Nebraska Supreme Court Judge Stephanie Stacy, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and former U.S. Attorney for Nebraska Deb Gilg.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot

The conference is focused on bringing together women who lead in law, business, government and nonprofit organizations. It grew out of the College of Law’s three-year initiative to provide female lawyers with leadership training and professional networking to successfully navigate their profession.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer of Feeding America, will deliver the opening keynote address, “Claim Your Power.” Feeding America, a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest charity in the United States. Babineaux-Fontenot previously spent 13 years on Walmart’s leadership team, with her most recent role as executive vice president and global treasurer.

Michelle Coleman Mayes

Michelle Coleman Mayes will close the conference with her keynote address “Interrupting Racial and Gender Bias in the Workplace.” Mayes has served as vice president, general counsel and secretary at The New York Public Library since 2012. In that role, she serves as chief legal officer and is responsible for guiding the library’s legal strategy. She previously served as general counsel for All State and Pitney Bowes. She was a member of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration in 2013-14 and served three years as chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. She is co-author of “Courageous Counsel: Conversations with Women General Counsel in the Fortune 500.”

Durkan, a former U.S. attorney; Gregoire, current CEO of Challenge Seattle; and Shoemaker, senior director for global government at Microsoft; will discuss their leadership skills in a fireside chat led by Gilg, who holds two degrees from the University of Nebraska.

Baird and Stacey will be among those participating in a series of 15-minute My Leadership Moments events, along with Job Share Connect co-founders Jessica Charlsen and Jina Picarella, and lobbyist Katie Zulkoski of Lincoln’s Zulkoski Weber firm.

“I am thrilled with the speakers we secured for this conference,” said Molly Brummond, assistant dean for external relations and strategic initiatives for the College of Law. “There is a strong mix of local women and women from across the country who are coming to help us make this a success.

It will provide the perfect opportunity for robust discussions as we consider how to advance women in the law, business, philanthropy and government.”

Other conference details include seven breakout sessions on these topics:

  • “Maximizing LinkedIn” by Debbie Wemyss, owner of DW Consulting Solutions;

  • “Five Lessons of Leadership” by Susana Eshleman, ’93, CEO of Children International;

  • “Facts and Fiction about Women in Negotiation” by Brandi McManus, assistant professor of practice in management at Nebraska;

  • “Business Development” by Marnie Jensen, managing partner at Husch Blackwell, and Jennifer Deitloff, associate senior general counsel at Scoular;

  • “How Leaders Can Overcome the Impostor Syndrome” by Dianne Bystrom, director emerita of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University;

  • “Pitch Perfect: Lessons from Entrepreneurship on Getting What You Want” by Samantha Fairclough, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of practice in management at Nebraska;

  • “The Shine Theory” by Kate Martz, ’12, and Emily Motto, partners at Baylor Evnen.

The law firm Cline Williams Wright Johnson Oldfather will sponsor networking breakfast roundtables, and Husch Blackwell will present a networking reception to conclude the conference. Other sponsors include Koley Jessen, Baylor Evnen, Jeannine Lane and Jacquelle Lane.

“This conference is for anyone who wants to claim their power,” said Sheri Irwin-Gish, executive director for communications, marketing and external relations for the College of Business. “Don’t miss the opportunity to gain insight from and connect with inspiring leaders and motivated professionals.”

The cost to attend is $100. The registration deadline is Feb. 28. Register here.

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