The 14th Annual WELN Conference was held at the College of the Holy Cross, Hogan Ballroom, on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Approximately 300 women leaders and aspiring leaders attended the event. The theme of the Conference was; Women Leading for Innovation: What Does It Take?
The Program featured a keynote presentation by Anna Villareal, Founder of LifeStory Health. Anna focused on driving innovation and cultural change with her work as pioneer and advocate in women’s health. Anna shared her story of how she is changing the women’s healthcare market through technology, innovation, and vocalization. One participant comments that: “Anna’s connection to educational leaders was instant and impactful. I was humbled by all she has accomplished and her passion for the work. She is an excellent example of an innovator and inspired me to forge ahead with innovation.”
Following Anna, a panel of educators spoke about their districts and how they are demonstrating innovative work in their field. Moderated by Christine Francis, Co-Director of the Assistant Superintendent Leadership Seminar Program and retired Assistant Superintendent, attendees heard powerful material from Darcy Fernandez, Superintendent of Athol-Royalston Regional School District, Dianne Kelley, Superintendent of Revere Public Schools, Mary Anne Moran, Co-Principal of Nipmuc Regional High School, and Linda Nathan, Executive Director of the Center of Artistry and Scholarship. Attendees commented that it was “inspiring to learn from colleagues and to gain insight into the work behind their success.”
The committee hosted a table top “think tank” around the barriers to innovation. Participants discussed “13 Barriers to Innovation” and “What If. .” discussions. Tables were able to engage in thoughtful conversations to bring back to their districts.
The luncheon speaker was Alyssa Dver, of the Confidence Institute and author of KickAss Confidence, who spoke about the confident quotient. Alyssa delivered a powerful and inspired message about brain science of confidence and learning confidence. She described confidence as “being certain (enough) about the truth of something.” Alyssa’s presentation was high energy, engaging and much appreciated following lunch. Overall participants reported, “she was awesome!”
Closing out the day, was the awarding of the Bobbie D’Alessandro Leadership Award. The 2019 recipient was Kathleen Smith, Superintendent of Schools, Brockton Public Schools.
Overall, it was a wonderful day where women leaders in education had the opportunity to network with such positive and passionate colleagues. A frequent comment: “It was inspirational to be in a room with so many smart, powerful, and innovative female leaders!”
We look forward to planning the 15th Annual WELN Event!