Feliciano School of Entrepreneurship Hosts Women Empowerment Week Events

By Chanila German, Assistant Copy Editor

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The two-day conference featured events tailored to women in the workplace. Photo Credit: Chanila German
The two-day conference featured events tailored to women in the workplace.
Photo by Chanila German

Montclair State University helped to celebrate Women Empowerment Week by joining 16 other New Jersey colleges and universities in the international movement.

In more than 11 countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Greece, India, Nigeria, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States, people embraced the power of women and celebrated their success throughout the second week of October.

The annual event that started on Montclair State University’s campus in 2014 by the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship lasted two full days from Oct. 18 and 19 in University Hall this year. The event featured a variety of successful women who talked about leadership, risk taking, tips on succeeding and how to juggle everything.

“Power Play: What Makes Women Great Leaders” was the first event held on Oct. 18 for Women Empowerment Week. The panel was moderated by Linda Lacina, a managing editor for Entrepreneur.com. It featured Adenah Bayoh, CEO of Adenah Bayoh Companies, Zinn and Wyndham Destination Network president and CEO Gail Mandel, Graves & Field president Ruthi Byrne, vice president of global brand and communications for the Commercial Payments Business Barbara Agoglia and Community FoodBank of New Jersey CEO Debra Vizzi.

Each of the women talked about their rise to success and their opinions on how to dominate in a field that is mostly controlled by men. A discussion was formed on how women leaders use their power differently from men, and as women in these positions, they gave advice to help aspiring enterprisers.

On Oct. 19, a full-day conference was held for women entrepreneurship. The conference was packed with a mixture of women and men who sat and listened to various panels throughout the day. For the first part of the conference, founder and CEO of FEM Real Estate, Mimi Feliciano, talked about learning how to let go and trust those around her more. At the end of her speech, she enlightened the crowd with a short poem by Rev. Safire Rose called “She Let Go.”

Afterwards, the “Taking Risks” panel was handed over to moderator Michele Ansbacher, who recently retired from Prudential Financial. Panelists included corporate Vice President of Client Experience Debbie Dyson, founder and CEO of Wavework Jessica Gaffney and Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Sunita Holzer, the founder and president of the Bedtime Math Foundation. Each of the panelists was asked to describe a point in her life characterized by taking risks and explain how she felt about it in that moment.

Each had taken different risks, ones that weren’t automatically successful but led them to achieve success in their careers later on. Dyson expressed to the audience that taking risks was difficult, but “if not try now, then when?”

The second panel featured CEO of Social Media LinkpSusan French, president of 24 Seven Celeste Gudas and CEO of Turtle & Hughes Jayne Millard. It was moderated by founder and president of Women Presidents’ Organization, Dr. Marsha Firestone.

The panel discussed tips on how to be successful and achieve your goals. It was followed by New Jersey Lt. Governor and Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, who spoke to the audience about her own experiences.

The conference ended with speaker and performer Jen Slaw, who juggled as she spoke to the audience about how to keep balance figuratively and literally. Slaw encouraged the audience to get up and balance a stick with a feature on it while promoting her motto of “Balance = Focus + Flexibility.”

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