Knowledge, networking at Women’s Leadership Symposium

women's leadership

Want to increase your career network, hear inspirational speeches and work on job skills? The 20th Annual Women’s Leadership Symposium can help.

The June 5 event, held 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Student Center East, is open to faculty, staff and students.

“The whole point is about women taking charge, women teaching one another, sharing knowledge, sharing skills,” said Athanasia Papaioannou, assistant director of the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center.

“There was a realization that there are a lot of positions that had no opportunity for growth,” she said. “WLS is a place to develop some skills that they can bring back to the job.”

Advanced registration for the event, which offers discounted fees, is open until May 28. Cost is $20 students, $55 UIC faculty and staff and $60 others. On-site registration is $65.

The symposium will include a keynote speech by best-selling author Judith Wright and a luncheon address by Chicago TV and radio personality Merri Dee.

“We try to have people talk about the obstacles that they have gone through to achieve the success they have now,” Papaioannou said about this year’s speakers. “There are amazing women among us. We don’t have to reach really far to find somebody who can share something with us.”

The symposium includes 18 workshops that focus on everything from finances to self-improvement.

Elizabeth Herrera, assistant director of career services in the School of Public Health, has been a part of the symposium as a volunteer on the planning committee, participant and presenter. “I always thought of networking as being formal, but people there are down to earth,” she said. “I’ve met people who are now friends.”

Karen Jackson, office manager in the Office of Public and Government Affairs, has been a planning committee member for 15 years. “The best part is putting a name to a face,” said Jackson, who interacts via email and phone with people all across campus through her job.

Participanting in the symposium helped Jackson overcome a fear of public speaking — she was asked to introduce broadcast journalist Tonya Francisco at the event one year.

The symposium is hosted by the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center. “The point of WLS is to come out of there with a new skill, a new knowledge — something that they can take back to their workplaces and to their lives,” Papaioannou said.