By K. Dawn Rutledge
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Women across Middle Tennessee made their way to the campus of Tennessee State University for the 2nd Annual Nashville Women in Leadership Symposium on March 29.
The invitation-only event, sponsored by the National Diversity Council and hosted by TSU’s Department of Educational Leadership, drew close to 100 women who focused on the theme, “Be Fearless: Influence, Innovate, and Inspire.”
The half-day symposium brought together a diverse mix of successful women who discussed a number of relevant issues to give women the educational tools and support needed for personal and professional advancement.
“Leadership is what we do and what we teach in our department,” said Dr. Trinetia Repress, chair for the TSU Department of Educational Leadership. “By allowing women to learn from one another, it not only empowers us, but demonstrates through these valuable discussions and interactions that there is a common thread when it comes to the leadership challenges women experience.”
The program’s panel participants included TSU Vice President of Research and Institutional Advancement, Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, who spoke on “The Power of No.” Mrs. Tina Reed, associate director of TSU’s Career Development Center, served as moderator.
“When we say ‘no’, it should be about fulfilling our goals, values, core beliefs, and priorities,” Crumpton-Young said. “If anything goes against those things, then ‘no’ is the right answer.”
Joining Crumpton-Young on the panel were Lauren Lane Payne, senior vice president of philanthropy at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville; Ann Hatcher, vice president of Key Talent Acquisition and Development for HCA; Dr. Alkyna Finch, certified coach, author and speaker; and Vail R. Brown, senior vice president of Global Business Development and Marketing at STR. Each panelist gave perspective on topics ranging from generational mentoring and support, to authentic leadership, leveraging social media and career transition.
Ashlyn Outler, director of the Women in Leadership Symposiums for the National Diversity Council, said TSU has been a great host partner in their efforts to expand awareness in the area. This is the second year the Council has partnered with the university through Educational Leadership. In 2016, TSU’s Dr. Alisa Mosley, associate vice president for the Division of Academic Affairs, was a panelist, and Ms. Seanne Wilson, coordinator of the TSU Women’s Center, handled moderator duties.
The National Diversity Council is the first non-profit organization to bring together the private, public and non-profit sectors to discuss the many dimensions and benefits of a multicultural environment. It is currently made up of state and regional councils, the National Women’s Council, the Council for Corporate Responsibility, and the Healthcare Diversity Council.
“We have embarked on an aggressive initiative to expand our brand and this powerful leadership symposium is helping us to do that,” Outler said. “We have 25 established councils around the country and abroad, and we have been very excited about being at TSU for a second year working with Dr. Trinetia Respress to get women talking about leadership and diversity.”
The Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, reports that women continue to lag substantially behind men when it comes to their representation in leadership positions. According to the CAP, while women make up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population and 47 percent of the U.S. labor force, they represent only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and only 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats.
“It is our hope that we can develop a long-term relationship with the National Diversity Council,” Repress said. “By working with this event, we hope to continue the important dialogue about the challenges women face in leadership.”
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About Tennessee State University
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.