Amid a national women’s movement, professional women are working together to figure out how to navigate the various challenges and obstacles to advancement.
About 100 women on Tuesday attended the annual Women in Leadership Symposium at the Lancelot Thompson Student Center at the University of Toledo. The event, organized by the Ohio Diversity Council, was one of numerous symposiums offered across the country this month under the National Diversity Council.
“The Ohio Diversity Council seeks to, among many other things, expand the space for productive conversation around diversity, inclusion, and equity in professional spaces,” Daniel Juday, director of the state council, told attendees.
The symposium featured a panel of five female leaders from the Toledo area. They included Linda Alvarado-Arce, executive director of the Toledo Board of Community Relations; Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, dean of the College of Graduate Studies and director of the Shimadzu Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Research Excellence at UT; Tasha Hussain Black, vice president of marketing for The Andersons Inc.; Kim Riley, president of the Cleveland office for Hylant Group, and Amy Yustick, chief financial officer of Champion Laboratories.
Jennifer Pizio, a member of the Toledo advisory board for the state council and the associate director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at UT, said the symposium offered advice on professional advancement for women.
“In today’s climate, having a voice and gaining a voice all of a sudden, now we need some tools to know how to use it,” she said. “We need to develop our own tool kits.”
Speakers offered tips on topics that include effective communication, identifying and creating allies, navigating business culture, and overcoming challenges.
“The audience really responded to the topic around mentorship and kind of creating a network of support around yourself,” Ms. Pizio said.
In her introduction, Ms. Yustick noted progress is important not only for women today, but also for women in the future.
“Often I’ve been the only woman in meetings, and I think it’s each generation’s job to help pass the baton and make things easier for the next generation,” she said. “These events help that, and I hope we can all go on this journey together.”
Marriah Kornowa of the United Way of Greater Toledo attended the symposium. Before presentations began, she was looking forward to learning about conflict negotiation, engaging men in being part of the solution, and creating a strong and well-reasoned movement.
“How do we offer support to other women, and how do we teach others to stand?” she said. “How do we make sure that we don’t come across just as angry women?”
She added that events such as the symposium help women form relationships with each other to work toward the common goal of advancement.
“They help empower folks to know that we’re not isolated, that we’re all in this together,” she said.
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