On February 8, 2019, CSUSB hosted its 2nd annual Women’s Leadership Conference in the Santos Manuel Student Union that hosted presentations by Melissa Abad, Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory and a leadership panel that consisted of various prominent working women throughout southern California.
The event commenced with Elle Magazine’s We The People video that showcased newly elected women of Congress reading the preamble to the Constitution of the United States.
Dr. Claudia Davis, a professor in the Department of Nursing at CSUSB, gave the opening remarks and the introduction of President. Dr. Tomás D. Morales.
Upon welcoming students, staff, affiliates and faculty to the conference, Dr. Morales shared his reflections on the women in his life and their contributions to furthering his education and well-being. He explained the significance of engaging in the conversation of gender equity and the barriers women may face upon entering their educational and professional careers.
ASI Vice President of Finance, Kristy Robles, introduced the morning keynote speaker, Dr. Melissa V. Abad. A sociologist at the Stanford VMWare Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, Dr. Abad is a leading researcher in intersectional studies and professional trajectories of women of color.
Dr. Abad opened with the discussion of the distinguished number of women who are achieving higher education degrees and certifications. Abad explained that though the statistics of women excelling in their educational career are elevated, the number of women entering the workforce in leadership or executive positions is relatively low.
Intersectionality became a part of the conversation, as Dr. Abad explained the significance of understanding the multiple dimensions of identity and how they pay tribute to the everyday challenges women may face.
As she offered strategies that could assist women in their mission to open more leading opportunities to themselves, she then closed by congratulating CSUSB for being a minority-serving institution that seeks to provide a successful educational journey for all of its students.
The audience then had the opportunity to attend various breakout sessions that created conversations on the mental health, success and ambitions of women.
During lunch, members received the chance to network with one another. The first 40 members who arrived at the conference were given the chance to eat and network with Bob Bland, one of the afternoon keynote speakers and a Co-President of the National Women’s March.
The Women’s Leadership Panel hosted five successful women who hold leadership and executive positions. All working within southern California and across various sectors of employment, the women were able to offer key advice for navigating through higher education and professional development.
The panel was moderated by CSUSB’s Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Development, Seval Yildirim and conference volunteer, Alicia Echevarria.
Arlene Garcia, Alysson Satterlund, Jennifer Sorenson, Monica Stockhausen and Nancy Wada-McKee all shared their experiences on working in leadership, trusting one’s growing process in their career and finding allies in both men and women.
The afternoon keynote speakers then took the stage. Bob Bland and Tamika D. Mallory, both champions for social justice, are Co-Presidents and Board Members of the National Women’s March that was brought to life in January 2017.
Both Bland and Mallory spoke on their own experiences with activism and how it sparked their collaboration to create a movement that has since then became one of the largest movements to exist in the United States.
As Bland, who is also a CEO and fashion designer fighting to rethink the fashion ecosystem and create a more sustainable and ethical means of textile production, shared her understandings of white supremacy and how she and her team work endlessly to fight alongside those who face unjust acts caused by xenophobia, homophobia and gender discrimination.
Bland additionally paid tribute to CSUSB’s motto of “We Define the Future,” as she stated that fighting hegemonic ideologies is a learned process that exists and gains power throughout generations to come.
Mallory then began to speak on the fact that activism has been existent in her life since her childhood. She discussed all the work that still has to be done in the fight for equality and social justice. As she explained what makes the Women’s March so unique, she clarified the reason why the Women’s March chooses to fight for, not only women’s rights but for the right of other minority groups.
Mallory explained that she hopes that she and her partners can reveal that this movement works to address the uniqueness of women and their relations with other social injustices such as police brutality, gun violence and climate change concerns.
CSUSB’s Dr. Mary Texeria, a professor of sociology, moderated the discussion between Bland and Mallory and the audience.
Dr. Texeira asked Mallory about recent anti-Semitism accusations that Mallory had faced after a national interview on The View. Mallory explained her position and denied any kind of hatred for the Jewish people. She then discussed how complex interviews can be as they often focus on controversial issues that cannot be labeled as black and white.
As she offered advice, she asked the audience to never be afraid to speak up and take their rightfully deserved seat at the table to further engage in the conversations that make people nervous or uncomfortable as it pushes society to better communicate with one another and come to understandings.
As the conference concluded, audience members were reminded of the entire goal of this social movement: to celebrate the success of everyday women who are aiming to continue to educate and encourage other men and women on the importance of equality and respect for people everywhere.
“Our goal today was to secure an environment for women to feel empowered in their workspace and space of study,” said Alicia Echevarria, a co-facilitator of this year’s conference. “We wanted to remind women that they should continue to celebrate who they are and what they can achieve by conversing with other women who are going through similar struggles.”