By: ANASTASIA MINAEVA
(Gainesville, Ga.) Brenau University Women’s College celebrated its 135-year legacy of educating confident female leaders on Beyond 135: A Women’s Leadership Colloquium at Northeast Georgia History Center at 2 p.m., last Friday, March 21.
The colloquium gathered around 50 people including Brenau alumnae, students, faculty, and community leaders to discuss current potential and issues of women’s leadership.
The invited keynote speaker, Maria Saporta, a journalist for Atlanta Business Chronicle and the founder of SaportaReport.com, started the meeting with considering the latest shifts related to women’s position as the heads of companies. Saporta concluded that Atlanta does not welcome women leaders.
“For whatever reason, Atlanta or Georgia has not been a warm and friendly hospital place for women to reach the top level in a corporate world,” Saporta said.
The next speaker was a Brenau 1983 graduate Gail Smith, who is currently the director of environmental, sustainability and issues management communications in Georgia-Pacific Company and a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.
Smith believes that women are in a good position now to take on bigger roles in every possible field.
“I think we are looking right now at glass that’s half full and not half empty,” Smith said.
At the end of her speech, Smith provided nine key leadership characteristics: ability of being good listener, to model good behavior, do not be afraid to take some risks, support your team, be able to delegate, the accountable, recognize success, be flexible and keep your sense of humor.
“It is our abilities and attributes, not our gender that determine our capacity to lead whatever that leadership role may be,” Smith said.
The list of the other featured speakers for the colloquium included two Brenau graduates, Lee Anne Romberg White and Tracy Rhodes as well as the Brenau dean of retention Valerie Simmons-Walston.
White, journalist, visual artist and the former editor-in-chief of Fine Gardening magazine, talked about the relationship between creativity and leadership. She engaged the audience with the different tasks to evoke the creative side of everyone. Then, she explained how it could help and complement a leader at a workplace.
Rhodes, an attorney at Evans & Rhodes, LLC and the firm’s managing partner, discussed the importance of communication skills at the work, while Simmons-Walston explained the significance of purposeful networking in today’s world.
After all featured speakers, three Brenau seniors: Jessica Anderson, Ashley Lee and Lea Mason shared their 4-year experience at Brenau.
At the end of the colloquium, Women’s College Dean, Debra Dobkins, announced that, beginning next fall, students might choose to earn an undergraduate certificate in women’s leadership.