Women in Leadership Conference Features Exemplary Alumni
On the evening of February 28th before the beginning of Social Work Month and Women’s History Month, more than 500 people gathered at the Turnbull Conference Center for the fourth annual Women in Leadership conference to enjoy inspirational dialogue and advice from a multitude of female leaders.
The conference marked a first-time collaboration between the FSU College of Social Work, College of Communication and Information, College of Business, and the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship. Attendees of the event reflected the diversity of backgrounds and experience of these schools, with students, faculty, local leaders, community members and alumni mingling during the four hour event.
During the opening session, a panel of women leaders shared some fundamental points that helped them achieve their goals, develop on an individual level and as leaders, and their unique journeys to their chosen career paths. Moderating the panel was Dr. Laura Osteen of the Center for Leadership and Social Change. Many common themes were reflected on in their experiences as leaders. Some highlights included:
Janet Kistner, Vice President, FSU Faculty Development and Advancement
“I don’t think we’re necessarily born with different sex characteristics other than the obvious physical ones, but I think we get nurtured or socialized in certain ways. I think some of those are wonderful strengths to bring into leadership roles.”
Julie Dunn, Vice President of Brand Distribution, Turner Content Distribution
“I really kind of came into my own when I stepped foot on this campus, and I think that’s why I’m so committed to Florida State, because it shaped the experience I had so much. It’s so remarkable that Florida State has this conference to share information and to gain critical skills and be able to develop as a leader so you can go out into the world.”
Her coach also told her, “You need to give yourself a little more credit for being a strategic thinker, and you need to understand that detail oriented is not a leadership skill. It’s what gets the job done. You need to understand the details, but you need to pull up from them in order to really be a leader and set the direction.”
Maureen Isern, Executive Producer, MOPED Productions
“It doesn’t matter what gender I am. It just matters that someone asked a question, and I had an answer.”
Susan Fiorito, Director, Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship
“At first, years ago, I was hesitant to say what I felt. Now --- and I tell my daughter this --- say what you think, mainly because we all have a different perspective. We have something to contribute that no one else does, so speak your mind. Sometimes it’s hard to say that first work when people are talking over you, but when you do, it feels good.”
Nina Asenafi Richardson, Leon County Judge
“Don’t believe the hype. If we’re going to break barriers, we have to shatter the perceptions and the negative talk. Don’t judge organizations, don’t judge the stereotype, don’t judge other people. As women, we don’t want others to stereotype us or put us in a box, so we certainly don’t want to do that to our male counterparts. If you approach your male counterparts without putting up a barrier, you’re going to have a much better time in getting along with them and leading them.”
Several College of Social Work alumni and supporters actively participated on many of the conference panels, representing well thriving and successful women in a variety of fields. Some of these panelists were:
- Captain Paula Clark (Men as Partners Panel) is an FSU aluma (BSW 02, MSW 03) and served as the Compliance, Quality and Risk Management Executive Officer for the 92d Medical Group, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Captain Clark is a Board Certified Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Biomedical Sciences Corps. Most recently, she served as an advisor to the 92d Medical Group Executive Team, supporting a staff of approximately 280 medical professionals who provide care worth $14.8 million for 38K beneficiaries.
- Dana Brooks (Personal Branding/Effective Networking Panel) is an FSU alum (MSW, ’03; JD, ’07) is an attorney, shareholder and managing partner at Barrett, Fasig & Brooks. Before she became an attorney, she was a paralegal, law firm administrator, mental health counselor and Florida Supreme Court certified family law mediator. She and her partners host the popular weekly legal call-in show “Law Call” on WCTV. She is also a contributing columnist to the Tallahassee Democrat, writing about legal issues that affect our community.
- Leah Dienger (Women in Startups/Innovations) a BSW (’91) and MSW (’94) alumna was a child in foster care and experienced adoption as a teenager. For the majority of her professional life, she provided direct services to clients in the areas of adoption, foster care and adoptive homes, drop-out prevention and school social work. Most recently, she has focused on child welfare at the administrative level, working for IBM as a subject matter expert and business analyst aiding the Department of Children and Families to provide more effective and efficient services to the children and families of Florida.
- Doby Lee Flowers (Diversity in Leadership Panel) is an FSU alumnus (BSW, 71; Urban and Regional Plannign 73). She was crowned Homecoming Queen in November 1970. After working for big corporations she moved back to Tallahassee to be close to family. She has worked for her brother Fred as a legal assistant for 14 years.
- Allyce Heflin (Women in Government Panel) an FSU alumna (MSW, 2005) and partner at Southern Strategy Group. She is an expert in education policy and funding and has worked intensively with local government and organizations, and has been intimately involved in education reform efforts since 2007. And she is an expert on ad valorem taxation, the legislative and appropriations process
Joy Jinks (Women in Entrepreneurship Panel) an MSW (1975) alumna who created The Mayhew Tree, a local business providing employment in Colquit, Georgia. She also co-founded with Dr. Richard Geer Swamp Gravy: Georgia’s Official Folk Life Play, which tells through rich local stories helped Colquit create an alternative economy based on cultural tourism. And, in 2007 she developed the Building Creative Communities Conference on community development through the arts.
- Pam Graham MacDill (Developing Student Leaders Panel) is the Jeanene M. Janes Child Welfare Fellow, director of the BSW and Professional Development Program, and teaching professor at the College of Social Work. She has served in several other administrative roles at the College and has extensive practice experience in the areas of children, adolescent and family therapy; loss and bereavement; and health care social work. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Florida and a certified Bereavement Counselor.
Kelly Otte (#LeanIn Panel), is the executive director of the PACE Center for Girls in Tallahassee. She is the Founder and former executive director of the Oasis Center for Women & Girls, the Inaugural Executive Director of United Partners for Human Services, Executive Director of Refuge House. Kelly created what is now the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women & Girls and was its first Chair. She has written a column since 2008 for the Tallahassee Democrat on nonprofit management.
- Delores Spearman (Women in Community Service/Philanthropy) a passionate FSU alumna (History, 98 & 08) who prefers to work behind the scenes in her volunteer work has served on the FSU Boosters Board of Directors, FSU Alumni Association National Board of Directors and several other university committees. She and her husband, Guy Spearman have financially supported several programs and scholarships at FSU. Delores is also a renowned community advocate.
- Jovita Woodrich (Women in Community Service/Philanthropy) is the Volunteer Services Director at Volunteer Florida, the Governor's lead agency for national service and volunteerism. She acts as a liaison among volunteer stakeholders, working to promote volunteerism in the state. Before Volunteer Florida, she worked for Goodwill Industries- Big Bend, Inc. as Vice President for Residential Services. She leads a team of 20 employees, managing 12 affordable housing corporations for persons with disabilities; a total of more than 300 households. In 2007, she received a Master of Social Work degree from FSU, with a concentration in Social Policy and Administration, and a certificate in Leadership in Executive and Administrative Development.