Legacy of Light: The Women in Leadership Conference

On April 17, SAU’s Women in Leadership Conference returned to campus after being canceled last year due to COVID-19. The event, which is open to women of all ages and backgrounds, is designed to help women fulfill their potential as leaders by allowing them to listen to speakers, attend educational workshops, and network with other women. This year’s theme was Legacy of Light.

Sheri Jones was the keynote speaker and kicked off the conference with a session titled “Lighting the Way: How you can live, love, lead, and leave a legacy.”   

Jones has been a news anchor for WLNS TV6 in Lansing for 30 years. She also volunteers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Children’s Trust Fund of Michigan, ATHENA International, and Child & Family Services, Capital Area. She used her life experiences as examples of why women need to assume leadership roles.

Jones spoke about how women leaders bring unique and different perspectives than men because we prioritize different things. Jones believes these different perspectives and priorities make women excellent leaders who can bring about change. To her, the world needs the unique perspectives of women.

Six other speakers conducted workshops on a wide variety of topics regarding women in leadership:

  • Cindy Harrison, the Vice President/Human Resources, Central Market, for the Henry Ford Health System in Southeastern Michigan, spoke about the importance of taking chances in leadership. Harrison said women can do all things if they are willing to take a chance and trust themselves and others to help them get there.
  • Tonia White, the Chief Employee Experience Officer at American 1 Credit Union, spoke about being unafraid, unapologetic, and optimistic in the face of adversity and hardship. She taught that women in leadership should empower themselves to face their fears, look for the silver lining in life, and stop apologizing for things we should not.
  • Angel Kono, the Discipleship Pastor at Jackson Free Methodist Church, conducted a workshop titled “Learning to Lead Through Active Listening.” Kono explored how the concept of active listening is a useful tool that women can use to learn from those we lead and those who lead us.
  • Mollie Bolton is a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones and conducted a workshop on the principles of investing and the ways it can help women achieve their goals and leave a legacy.
  • Speaker Tricia McGuire is the Special Projects Director at Lenawee Christian School and the Vice President of the Merillat Family Foundation. McGuire, in her session titled “The Importance of Leadership in a Family Legacy,” shared her experience and wisdom on how to apply faith and family values when focusing on the continuation of a family legacy.   
  • Monica Moser, the President and CEO of the Jackson Community Foundation, conducted a workshop titled “Setting an Intention to be Intentional.” Moser shared ways for women to be intentional in seeking mentors, in creating networking opportunities, and in aligning what they do with where they want to go.

Between each session, attendees could visit the Poling lobby to browse the vendor tables, get coffee and snacks, and network with other guests.

This year’s Women in Leadership Conference was an excellent opportunity for women of all ages to learn more about what it means to be a leader, to share their experiences in leadership, and to foster community with other women leaders. Students and community members alike should keep an eye out for next year’s Women in Leadership Conference. It is an opportunity you will not want to miss.

By: Merry Castle