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Empowerment through Creative Expression

Photo credit:  Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Women Grow through Preparation, Relationships

Whether through networking, music, art or conversation, participants at the Women of Color Leadership Conference again provided confirmation that women discover valuable skills through relationships with others.

At the recently-held conference, more than 350 women participated in a welcome that provided music and poetry, setting the stage for the day’s workshops and a keynote lecture designed for “Empowering Women through Creative Expression,” the theme for this year’s conference.

The annual forum, which celebrated its ninth year at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is designed to help women better prepare for leadership, critical conversations and inclusion.

Some of the workshop topics included “Building Community Relationships: Successful Women of Color Share Tips and Tricks;” “Art and Color; Visual Color;” “Courageous Conversations: Real Talk on the Dilemma, Truth and Consequences for Women of Color in the Workplace;” and “Diversity in the Workplace.”

“Understand the politics – who the influencers are – and who’s the first to oppose you or your ideas,” said DeAngela Burns-Wallace, Ed.D., assistant vice provost of enrollment management and director of access initiatives at the University of Missouri. She served on the “Conflict Resolution: Turning Conflicts into Opportunities” panel. “Get to know your team members and begin relationship building. These are key to bringing people into a collaborative spirit.”

Judy Smith, the inspiration for ABC TV’s “Scandal,” presented a glimpse into her highly visible life in crisis management, including her position as special assistant and deputy press secretary to President George H. W. Bush.

She invoked humor, walked among the audience answering questions and shared personal stories about her career. Throughout her lecture – probably more like a relaxing conversation – a few recommendations became clear:

  • Be prepared for the opportunities when they come
  • Develop and maintain relationships
  • Show leadership
  • Participate in service to others

Based on the increased attendance at the conference, as well as past conferences, women are taking responsibility for their professional development and embracing a final message from the conference:

“Love what you do and don’t let fear get in the way.”

“Being yourself, cultivating relationships and being prepared for opportunities that come your way were the leadership themes that stood out and were embraced by the women at the conference,” said Susan B. Wilson, Ph.D., vice chancellor of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion.

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications


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