LIWOC Participants Attend National Conference

Sadé Lindsay (above, left) Deija McLean (right) both knew the important role that leadership skills and professional development would play in advancing their careers. So when the two Ohio State University students received funding through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Leadership Initiatives for Women of Color (LIWOC) to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), they seized the chance to attend.

LIWOC works to foster the development of women of color as leaders in the classroom, on campus, and in their surrounding communities, and one of their initiatives sent two students to the NCCWSL, an annual conference that supports college women’s leadership development in a female-centered environment. This year’s conference was held June 5-7, 2014 at the University of Maryland, College Park. Attendees had the chance to choose from more than 50 workshops on a variety of topics from building relationships and civic engagement, to interviewing skills and the gender pay gap. Featured speakers were Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, and Deanna Zandt, a leading media technologist and author, who both spoke about making a difference and advocating for change.

Both Sadé and Deija act as officers for a newly developed student organization, Ladies of Leadership. Along with Zamone Sawyer and a core group of ten other women, they will be formally launching the organization this fall so NCCWSL couldn’t have come at a better time. The conference exceeded their expectations, providing opportunities to gain personal connections, professional development, and leadership skills, all from young women of varying backgrounds and different races. Sadé stated, “It was awesome because even though we were all different, we have one thing in common: we are women. In the end, we share some of the same struggles and just want equality.” Deija also echoed that sentiment, saying, “I had the opportunity to fellowship with women student leaders across the country, to get to know women from Puerto Rico to California to New York.”

Deija and Sadé, who are majoring in Early and Middle Childhood Studies and Criminology respectively, saw the power of the conference not only in the many skills and tools available to participants but that those same skills could be passed along to others, creating more empowered women. Both appreciated the funding from Leadership Initiatives for Women of Color which allowed them to attend the conference and both hope that even more students from Ohio State will be able to attend in the coming years.

Last year’s three attendees to the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders were funded through the Lee Smith Undergraduate Women’s Leadership Fund, a scholarship established just over a year ago by a generous inaugural donation from Ohio State alumna and Office of Diversity and Inclusion supporter, Aya Fubara Eneli. April Napier, Miranda McClendon, and Faria Munir expressed sentiments similar to this year’s attendees about the need to offer this incredible opportunity to more students. Reflecting on the timing of her experience, Deija commented, “I definitely benefitted from the conference as a rising senior, but I know that it would have been even better to learn some of these lessons as a rising sophomore or junior.” Sade’ agreed with her and plans to share much of what she learned with incoming women of color who become mentees through Ladies of Leadership. “I think we should do similar workshops at a mini-retreat for our mentees,” she stated, especially ones that focus on networking. “I’m a firm believer in ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ Who you know can get you the opportunity and then you can use what you know to keep that opportunity.” With everything they learned at NCCWSL supplementing their existing strengths, neither of these women is going to have any trouble with that.


If you’d like to support future students’ attendance at the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders, please contact Lauren Seligman about how to make a donation to the Lee Smith Undergraduate Women’s Leadership Fund, a scholarship established just over a year ago by a generous inaugural donation from Ohio State alumna and Office of Diversity and Inclusion supporter, Aya Fubara Eneli.