Women’s Leadership Retreat to help to shape female leaders of tommorrow


Jake Miller/ Iowa State Daily

Liz Mullen, freshman in open option; Megan Kelly, sophomore in performing arts; and Emily Linch, sophomore in English, discuss their upcoming classes inside Sloss House.

Max Dible

Christmas break typically serves as a break from the rigors of higher education, but Iowa State is giving its female students an opportunity to use a vacation day to hone their leadership skills at the Women’s Leadership Retreat.

The fourth annual Women’s Leadership Retreat will be on campus Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Hach Hall.

Jennifer McDermott, graduate assistant in the school of education, is helping to organize the retreat on behalf of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center in conjunction with the Student Activity Center and the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

The purpose of the retreat, among other things, is to construct communities.

“We want to build community among the participants of the retreat as well as strengthen their connection not only to Iowa State, but also to Ames and Iowa communities,” McDermott said.

Kristine Keil, program coordinator for the Catt Center, described what the retreat hopes to bestow upon its attendees.

“We want to give the participants leadership tools, prepare them for the workforce, and help them become leaders on campus which will help them later on,” Keil said. “Everyone can figure out their own strengths and take that knowledge back to their school and their work.”

McDermott echoed that sentiment, acknowledging that outside of the retreat’s general goals, it is meant to serve as an enlightening individual experience for every student involved.

“I think the goal looks different for every person that participates,” McDermott said. “Everyone comes into the retreat looking for something different, but our goals as planners are to provide an excellent experience to build connections to role models and mentors, and to help female students grow in what it means to be women and leaders on campus.”

Activities will vary throughout the day, but they will be headlined by a keynote speech.

“This year we will be doing a variety of things. Our keynote will be given by Valerie Hennings, who has her Ph.D. in communication, and the topic will be women in leadership in the U.S. in 2013,” McDermott said.

There will also be breakout sessions focusing on topics such as negotiating, conflict management and supervision, all of which are applicable to new leaders as well as established leaders looking to grow, McDermott said.

“We will have a panel comprised of three different community members: a business owner, someone from a nonprofit and someone to provide a university aspect,” Keil said. “We want the participants to inquire with a wide range of leadership questions. Everyone in the audience will have different goals, so this provides a good variety of sources.” 

McDermott also said time will be set aside for attendees to network with some of the high-level student leaders from prominent student organizations on campus. All female students are invited to take part.

“The retreat is for current students at Iowa State University,” McDermott said. “Undergrads, graduate students and doctoral students are all welcome to attend.”

Keil expressed regret that such a unique opportunity wasn’t offered during her time at Iowa State and stressed the retreat’s importance.

“I didn’t have anything like this. This wasn’t going on when I was in school and I wish it had been. I wish I could attended,” Keil said. “It’s very valuable information, no matter what walk of life you choose.”

Anyone interested in attending the Women’s Leadership Retreat can register online until Dec. 6.