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NOVEMBER 2014 - Women's Leadership Conference
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WLALA Co-Sponsors Women's Leadership Conference at Mount St. Mary's College

by Courtney A. Powers

WLALA Co-sponsored the “Lead and Succeed” Women’s Leadership Conference at Mount St. Mary’s College (MSMC) on September 20th.  The only women’s college in Los Angeles, MSMC hosted a sold-out event attended by hundreds of professionals and students.   The conference presented an opportunity to gain keen insight from powerful women leaders about how they shape and perceive the world, themselves and others, and how they influence and respond to the events and circumstances in their lives.  

A conference session entitled, “Beyond the Boys Club:  Achieving Career Success in Male Dominated Fields”, featured Judge Michelle Williams Court of the Los Angeles County Superior Court (and former WLALA board member), Annie Chu (founding principal of CHU+GOODING Architects), Carolyn Devinny (a commute and emission reduction consultant) and Jennifer Ferro (General Manager of KCRW and President of KCRW Foundation). 

Judge Williams Court emphasized that despite gender stereotypes others may project onto you, it is important to be yourself and be authentic.  She also encouraged participants to persevere and to strive to achieve goals in the long term when faced with failures or obstacles.  Ferro encouraged participants to volunteer for things you are interested in, even if you have never done those things in the past.  Chu encouraged participants to think hard before turning down opportunities because when someone gives you an opportunity, they recognize your potential.  Devinny urged participants to take responsibility (and credit) for tasks and seek recognition for accomplishments. 

Author and sociologist BJ Gallagher gave an inspirational talk entitled, “It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been.”  Gallagher emphasized the importance of relational skills on the job, citing the fact that 80% of people fail on the job due to interpersonal, not technical, skills.  She also noted that people evaluate professionals based on their behavior, in addition to their results.  Finally, Gallagher warned participants that they will grow bored if they take a job for which they already meet the qualifications. She encouraged participants to instead take a job that is too big for you so you can grow into the job. 

MSMC’s annual Women’s Leadership Conference is part of a series of programs designed to promote the advancement of women and girls.  WLALA will co-sponsor MSMC’s Ready to Run program on February 7, 2015.  The program trains and encourages women to run for elected office or become involved in public service.  Additional information will be forthcoming at

Courtney A. Powers is co-chair of the Outreach Committee and Vice President and General Counsel at GRACE.