Women’s Leadership Conference fosters community, education

Founder of Everyday Feminism Sandra Kim: “If we can’t talk about it, we can’t change it.”

Timed to coincide with Women’s History Month, on March 18 the Women’s Leadership Conference’s theme was “Women INpower” and featured female professionals from across fields as both presenters and participants. The conference was sponsored by various MU affiliates, including the Panhellenic Association, Residence Halls Association, Women’s Center, Office of Leadership Development and the women’s and gender studies department.

More than 120 participants woke up early on March 18 to attend the Women’s Leadership Conference. The event in Memorial Union drew mainly MU students and faculty members in addition to women from across Missouri.

The event featured Sandra Kim, founder and executive director of Everyday Feminism, as a keynote speaker. Kim started the conference with a speech on building inclusive leadership.

“The world is not set up for you to be a leader,” Kim said. “If we can’t talk about it, we can’t change it.”

Following Kim’s talk, the conference was split up into breakout sessions with the event’s central themes of empowerment, diversity, networking and education. Presenters had the opportunity to submit lecture proposals several months ago, and topics ranged from cultural appropriation to building a personal brand.

Michela Skelton, a candidate for representative for Missouri’s 50th House District, spoke over a lunchtime session. Skelton, the current chair of the Missouri Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus, stressed the importance of diverse leadership within politics.

“We need diverse people running for office,” Skelton said. “ Everyone has different experiences to bring to the table. I couldn’t not run anymore.”

Skelton represents Our Revolution, a Columbia-based progressive political organization working to recruit female candidates to run for office.

Freshman Jordan Weinberg served as the Women’s Center liaison for the conference. She said the center has been more involved with planning the conference than it has been in years past.

“The WLC wanted someone to help guide that relationship and include the Women's Center as a valuable resource in planning so I got appointed,” she said in an email. “I really learned the understanding of logistics behind such a large event. I had no idea how to work around a budget or plan things months in advance. I learned a lot of time management!”

Planning for the event started last year, and proposals for presentations were accepted in November.

Michiru Carroll, an MU student, hoped to gain “self-fulfillment” through the event.

“I want to walk away from this conference being more confident in myself and my ability to succeed as a leader and a woman, especially a woman of color,” she said.

Edited by Emily Gallion | egallion@themaneater.com

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