Women’s Network CLI: Opening Session
By Beth Carr—Women’s Network CLI Fall 2016 class member
The 3rd cohort of the Women’s Network Community Leadership Institute (CLI) held its opening session on Tuesday, September 13th with a full-day retreat at the Hilton Garden East. It began on a high note as 21 women from a wide array of business sectors throughout the Akron area came together to share this leadership journey.
The morning began with introductions and an overview of the program by Donae Ceja (facilitating), Mark Scheffler (President, Leadership Akron), and Kirsten Lino (President, Women’s Network).
Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Assistant Superintendent and Carla Sibley, Director, Community Relations, both from Akron Public Schools, then challenged the group with a thought-provoking session entitled, “DEDICATED TO DEVERSITY, What it Means, Why it Matters”. Through their presentation of real-life scenarios, leaders had opportunity to share common misperceptions of others that occur because of the tendency to interpret people diverse from ourselves through our own personal lenses. The group was encouraged to withhold judgement and “take a pause” before responding to others who may be different from us.
During the lunch session, Diane Selzer, Portfolio Manager, Westfield Bank, presented “The Women in Workplace Report of 2015”. This comprehensive study showed that women continue to be underrepresented and face real barriers to advancement in corporate America.
The day concluded on the topic of “Strengths-Based Leadership” presented by Cindy J. Biggs, a leadership and executive coach. Prior to the first session, all attendees completed the online StrengthsFinder assessment. Through the assessment, the top five strengths of each individual were identified. We learned that by focusing on strengths (versus weaknesses) of ourselves and our work teams, we all become more engaged and effective (and probably happier).
Following the retreat, a reception at Goodyear Hall provided opportunity to network with other CLI members and board members from Women’s Network and Leadership Akron. Much of the class also toured the recently renovated building including visiting two fabulous rental units (the building is 90% leased!) and the auditorium.