Fireside Chats Spark Networking and Community at ILA's Women and Leadership Conference

Fireside Chat at 2015 Women and Leadership ConferenceFireside Chats have been a fixture at ILA's Women and Leadership conference since the first event took place in 2013 and have been among the most highly rated special features of the conference. Fireside Chats contribute to the feeling of community at the conference and provide exceptional networking opportunities for participants. They often feature accounts of local leadership endeavors, artistic experiences, self-reflection, or the first-person stories of exceptional women leaders. This year's chats remain true to those themes and are focused on the arts and self-reflection; the local leadership stories of Clinton Vineyards and Val-Kill; and personal stories from trailblazers Clare Shine and Frances Hesselbein.

Given this year's conference location at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, it is especially fitting that the conference will continue its tradition of Fireside Chats. Rhinebeck is just a short distance away from Hyde Park, the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the creator of the Fireside Chat, which were short radio broadcasts, when he was president of the United States from 1933-1945. Although this year's Women and Leadership Fireside Chats will not take place in front of an actual fireplace, as they often did at the 2013 and 2015 conferences in California, they will maintain the same flavor and feeling as past years. All are sure to be inspirational and thought-provoking, as well as extraordinary opportunities for networking and community building.

Six Fireside Chats, three each on Sunday and Tuesday evenings are open to attendees at this year's 3rd Biennial Women & Leadership Conference, Advancing Women in Leadership: Cultivating Our Whole Selves.

  • "Remember Who You Are" (Gloria Burgess)
  • "Four Decades of Winemaking: One Woman's Story of Wine, Women, and Politics" (Phyllis Feder)
  • "Leadership: A Matter of How to Be" (Frances Hesselbein)
  • "Women's Leadership and the Arts" (Susan Madsen)
  • "Eleanor Roosevelt: Life and Home" (Manuela Roosevelt and Frank Futral)
  • "Courage on the Front Line" (Clare Shine)

The Fireside Chats will take place at unique locations at the Omega Institute; each appropriately chosen to create an atmosphere that complements the topic of the chat.

Gloria BurgessGloria Burgess's fireside chat, "Remember Who You Are," takes place at the Sanctuary, the spiritual heart of Omega's Rhinebeck campus. The Sanctuary is a beautiful place, perfect for meditation, reflection, contemplation, or prayer. It is only fitting that Burgess' chat will utilize reflection, music, images, poetry, and conversation as a means of healing and transformation to the participants. "I'm passionate about helping women leaders live into their magnificence and my fireside chat — Remember Who You Are — will allow them to do just that," Burgess shared. "I've designed it as a gracious space, a time out of time, to enable women to access and embrace their whole selves, their full radiance." Burgess is an inspirational and acclaimed international speaker who has dedicated her life to motivating others to make a difference in their own lives, so that they can make a difference in others' lives. "I absolutely love this year's theme!" Burgess enthused. "For ILA women, it's timely and necessary to support these leaders in unleashing their full potential."

Susan MadsenSusan Madsen, the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership and Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University, will host "Women's Leadership and the Arts" at the Lake Theater. An evening of music, poetry, readings, and more, this Fireside Chat will highlight the talents of 10-12 conference attendees. All of the pieces being performed will be original works focused on women and leadership, including a song written by Madsen herself. The arts are "an important area to think about," Madsen advised. "Sharing another element of our creative souls is important in leadership today. All of the pieces will have direct connections to women and leadership. I believe it will be both entertaining and powerful! I'm looking forward to it. Come and join me!" Madsen is an expert in the field of women and leadership and an internationally known speaker. She's published numerous books, articles, and chapters on the subject and is one of the editors of ILA's Women and Leadership book series.


"I absolutely loved the Women and Leadership conferences that were held in 2013 and 2015 and believe they have been transformational in so many ways for those who attended. The 2017 conference will be no different. It excites me because I know I will be able to learn, network, collaborate, and have both transformational learning and experiences. Most conferences drain me, but the Women and Leadership conference actually renews me. They are magical in many ways. They are unique and different from other conferences, in part because of the sacred spaces where they are held — places of renewal and innovation. I am thrilled about this conference and look forward to it!" — Susan Madsen

Manuela Roosevelt Frank Futral
Manuela Roosevelt and Frank Futral's fireside chat, "Val-Kill Eleanor Roosevelt Life and Home," will be held at the Ram Dass Library. Val-Kill, Eleanor's home at Hyde Park is the only National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady. Hosted by family member Manuela Roosevelt, Director of the The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Partnership, attendees will hear personal stories and learn about the partnership, which was founded by another former first lady, Hillary Clinton. Expect to be inspired by the courageous leadership embodied by Eleanor Roosevelt, her social justice advocacy, and her enduring legacy. In addition to this Fireside Chat about Val-Kill and Eleanor Roosevelt, attendees may choose to participate in a post-conference behind-the-scenes tour of the home after the conclusion of the conference Wednesday afternoon.

Phyllis FederAnother local leader, Phyllis Feder, will host "Four Decades of Winemaking: One Woman's Story of Wine, Women, and Politics." Feder is the owner of Clinton Vineyards and Winery in New York, which produced the wine served at President Bill Clinton's first inaugural dinner. At age 81, she is the most senior owner and operator of a vineyard in New York. A democratic insider, her Fireside Chat will explore her experiences mentoring and leading other women and will include anecdotes associated with wine, women, and politics. With a nod to the history of the region, Feder shared with us that she remembers FDR's Fireside Chats and "often wondered if Eleanor was the inspiration behind these messages as she was a remarkable woman and great communicator."

Clare ShineRounding out this year's Fireside Chat offerings are gatherings hosted by Clare Shine and Frances Hesselbein. Clare Shine serves as Vice President and Chief Program Officer of Salzburg Global Seminar, a nonprofit organization that "challenges current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern." "Courage on the Front Line" will draw on stories from Shine's self-described, unusual career to explore ways in which women from all walks of life can "bend the curve" and accelerate positive change. She believes that being yourself and accepting your multiple identities are key assets and a source of courage for effective leadership. "In these polarized times, the gains made by women in their organizations, communities, and personal lives can no longer be taken for granted. Looking up and out, engaged women and men have the opportunity and the responsibility to break the mold and maintain momentum for next generations."

Frances HesselbeinAnother woman who will share her extraordinary life history at a Fireside Chat is Frances Hesselbein. Hesselbein is the President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, which "connects the public, private and social sectors with curated resources and relationships to serve, evolve and lead." In addition to being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Hesselbein is the author or co-editor of more than 30 books. As CEO of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. from 1976-1990, she was able to shine her expertise in leadership development onto the experience of girls and young women. Hesselbein's session, "A Matter of How to Be," will share what she believes are the leadership imperatives in "a time as challenging as any of us have faced in a long time."

The fascinating and accomplished women hosting this year's Fireside Chats look forward to joining you at the conference! Advancing Women in Leadership: Cultivating Our Whole Selves will take place the 11th to the 14th of June at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, USA. Be sure to register before prices increase.