Special Events Contribute to Unique Experience at the 3rd Biennial Women and Leadership Conference

Women and Leadership Conference Evening Bonfire and Marshmallow RoastWhat do you visualize when you hear the phrase Advancing Women in Leadership: Cultivating Our Whole Selves? Professional development workshops, cultural events, mind/body activities? Perhaps small group interactions, meditative walks, and historical site tours? Or maybe your visualization includes immersing yourself in a supportive and rejuvenating environment to just listen — to self as much as to others. Whatever your preference, these options and many more are available to you as an attendee of the 3rd Biennial ILA Women and Leadership Conference!

Hosted by the ILA Women and Leadership Affinity Group (WLAG) and held at the world renowned Omega Institute June 11-14, 2017, this biennial leadership conference brings leadership scholars and researchers, educators and students, coaches and consultants, public leaders and executives to learn, network, reflect, and renew.

Sound intriguing? Here are a few of the special events scheduled at the conference that are sure to facilitate advancing your leadership capacity while cultivating your whole self.

Eleanor Roosevelt hostessing UNESCO visit to Val-Kill in Hyde Park, New York, July 1948Attending the conference for the first time is Northwest storyteller and actress, Debbie Dimitre. Debbie has entertained audiences of all ages for over 30 years with her historical docudramas. She will bring to life two women, Eleanor Roosevelt and Grandma Moses, at the Women and Leadership conference. Debbie chose to portray a former first lady and an American folk artist after talking to conference planners about their goals for the event. Eleanor Roosevelt was an obvious choice — in addition to being a well-known human rights advocate, Eleanor's beloved Val-Kill Cottage is just minutes away from Omega (a post-conference tour of the cottage is available; see details below). Grandma Moses was chosen as an example of a woman who embodies the conference theme. As a self-taught artist who did not begin painting until age 78, she challenged societal norms for "seniors" of her generation. Anna Mary Robertson Moses, aka Grandma Moses, exhibited her popular, naïve art internationally well into her 90s and painted up until her death at age 101.

Fireside Chat at 2015 Women and Leadership ConferenceDebbie Dimitre's interest in women's stories was "born of an awareness that children's school books were practically void of information about women in American history." Her series of one-woman performances was created to portray the "contributions, courage, and bravery" demonstrated by various women from America's past. Debbie brings well-known and lesser-known women to life on the stage — in costume and character — and believes she is blessed to be living her dream. Her performances are sure to entertain, educate, and facilitate discussions amongst conference attendees.

A different learning environment will be created in "Fireside Chats" planned on Sunday and Tuesday evenings at the conference. Smaller, more intimate gatherings, Fireside Chats were among the most talked about highlights of the two previous Women and Leadership conferences. Six Fireside Chats will be facilitated by guest speakers this year including:

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

Gloria Burgess PhotoPhyllis Feder PhotoFrances Hesselbein Photo Susan R. Madsen Photo
Manuela Roosevelt Photo Frank Futral Clare Shine Photo

Fireside Chats will take place in a variety of locales on campus, rather than in front of an actual fireplace, but will maintain the same flavor and feeling as past years. They are sure to be inspirational as well as thought-provoking — and, as a bonus, can be extraordinary venues for networking!

Facilitated Conversation Lunches at the 2015 Women and Leadership ConferenceThe ILA is excited to be partnering with the Omega Institute to host our third biennial conference. Located in the scenic Hudson Valley, the Omega Institute houses the Omega Women's Leadership Center and the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. A special tour of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) will be available Sunday afternoon, June 11. As noted on their website, the center "demonstrates and teaches what is possible through regenerative thinking and design. Their award-winning building, Eco Machine™, and innovative educational programs offer visitors and students a path toward a sustainable, just, resilient, and regenerative future where people and nature work side-by-side to build a better life for all." A tour of OCSL is a great way to kick-off your conference experience.

Plenary Speakers at the 2015 Women and Leadership ConferenceAttendees at ILA's 2013 and 2015 Women and
Leadership conferences at the Asilomar conference grounds in Pacific Grove, California will remember the numerous learning opportunities available. The 2017 conference will continue in this tradition. The program agenda includes keynote speakers and concurrent sessions that are both research and
practice focused. As an example, conference
attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a workshop that will explore how the vision of the
Asilomar Declaration and Call to Action, drafted in 2013 and updated in 2015, can be transformed into action by way of the heart. The workshop will address our community's desire "to capture and disseminate our collective ideas and to challenge ourselves and the world to change the status of women worldwide."

Experiential workshops, panel presentations, developmental roundtables, interactive poster sessions, and six-minute messages are all examples of learning opportunities at the 2017 conference. Holistic sessions such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, and reflective writing are also scheduled. During meals, you can choose to eat in silence or join a table with facilitated discussion. Walking tours, community bonfires, wine tasting, and healthy foods, in conjunction with previously identified activities, will help ensure your whole-self is rejuvenated at this exceptional leadership conference!

Eleanor Roosevelt and Fala at Val-Kill in Hyde Park, New York, 1947Lastly, special events don't end with the closing
session! The conference team is pleased to announce that a post-conference tour of Eleanor Roosevelt's
home, Val-Kill, will be offered on Wednesday
afternoon, June 14. This VIP guided tour of Val-Kill includes behind the scene views of Eleanor's home
and special commentary by family member, Manuela Roosevelt. Tour buses will depart Omega at 2 PM and return at 5 PM with an introductory video about
Val-Kill shown during the approximately 20-minute commute to the historic site. An additional $85 fee is required to participate in the post-conference tour and registration is limited to 35 participants, so register early for this event!

If you have been following articles from the Women and Leadership Affinity Group, you already know that March 8 was International Women's Day (IWD). The 2017 IWD campaign encourages us to #BeBoldForChange. What does being bold look like for you? What change might you embrace to advance your leadership style? What practice could you adopt to cultivate your whole self? Consider registering, today, for the 3rd Biennial ILA Women and Leadership Conference, Advancing Women in Leadership: Cultivating Our Whole Selves. You're sure to discover new tools and embody new learnings after participating in this collegial event — and you'll do so boldly!

Concurrent Session at the Women and Leadership ConferenceA comprehensive overview of the 3rd Biennial conference, registration information, lodging, and transportation options can be found by exploring the links on the right side. On behalf of the Women and Leadership 2017 conference team, please join us as we work (and play) together in a quest to advance women in leadership while cultivating our whole selves!

Denise ThomsonDenise Thomson is a Senior Consulting Associate at DeWitt-Thomson, LLC who specializes in coaching executives and developing masters-level programs. She is a member of the Executive Leadership Team of the ILA Women and Leadership Affinity Group, a Certified Coach and Consultant in Appreciative Inquiry, and a Circle Practitioner trained by the foremost authority in participatory leadership and collaborative conversations. She recently relocated to her birthplace and is currently “cultivating her whole self” by remodeling her great-grandmother’s home and assimilating into a new community.

* Note: The two photos of Eleanor Roosevelt above are courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library archives. (1) Eleanor Roosevelt hostessing UNESCO visit to Val-Kill in Hyde Park, New York, July 1948; (2) Eleanor Roosevelt and Fala [dog] at Val-Kill in Hyde Park, New York, 1947. All conference photos are from the first or second ILA Advancing Women and Leadership conferences.