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EmpowHER

2015 Women's Leadership Conference focuses on empowerment

Published March 16, 2015
Photos by Nick Ehrhard

Dr. Stephanie Shonekan

Stephanie Shonekan, associate professor of ethnomusicology and black studies, leads a breakout session called "Beyond Beyoncé: Pop Music & Feminism" at the Women's Leadership Conference March 14 at Memorial Union.

More than 200 individuals participated in the 2015 Women's Leadership Conference March 14 in Memorial Union. Attendees included students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. The conference featured 22 presenters and 18 panelists on topics including the global state of women, pop music and feminists, body politics, and building sustainable student organizations.

"This is a great arena to talk about where women stand in society, how we can work to gain more power in everyday society, and how we can start to set our own agendas rather than just following along," said conference attendee Kelly Murphy, a senior business management major from St. Louis.

Leaning In

Marcia Chatelain, BJ, BA '01, now an assistant professor of history at Georgetown University, delivered the keynote address, "You've Leaned In: Now Brace Yourself."

During her time as a student at Mizzou, Chatelain was known for her activism. She was involved in the student movement to add sexual orientation to the University non-discrimination policy. She also edited the "Hate Report," bringing attention to hate speech on bathroom stalls and classroom desks across campus.

"Marcia was always our conscience," said Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor for student affairs, in her introduction of Chatelain.

Chatelain's talk, peppered with humor-infused anecdotes of her own failures, emphasized the importance of staying focused on the long game, maintaining personal relationships, dealing with criticism, talking about setbacks and making time for reflection. "You have to lean into life and create incredible memories," she said.

Chatelain, who volunteers on the Student Affairs Advancement Board to help raise money for the Mizzou student experience, also encouraged conference attendees to invest in the university for the long term. Chatelain said she didn't have any of the markers of a "true tiger," but she values the faculty and staff who mentored and listened to her during her time on campus. "Boy, am I all in," she said.

Leadership for Change

The Women's Leadership Conference is a hands-on learning opportunity for students who coordinate the event. Nine undergraduate students and a graduate assistant plan the event under the direction of the Center for Leadership and Service in the Department of Student Life.

Graduate advisor Alyssa Bilyeu, BS HES '13, has been involved in planning the conference since 2010. "The last two years, we've finally gotten a foundation," said Bilyeu, who will graduate in May with a master's degree in education.

"I'd like to see the conference continue the alumni keynote involvement, level of student development within the committee and quality of breakout sessions," she said.

Students interested in serving on the 2016 executive board are encouraged to apply online at wlc.missouri.edu.

"It's important that conferences like these continue to happen on campus," said Murphy, who learned about the conference while working at the LGBTQ Resource Center.

"Educated women have a large role to play in changing how society views women and how women are seen around the globe. We have a lot more opportunities and resources to reach out and change policies and ideas."

View more event photos on Flickr

Published by the Division of Student Affairs, 211 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 | Phone: 573-882-6776 | Fax: 573-882-0158 | E-mail: StudentAffairs@missouri.edu

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Last updated: Aug. 15, 2017