Building Healthy Lives: 16th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference

April 25, 2016

Chelsea at Women's Leadership Conference

On Friday, April 1, I was able to attend the 16th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) on the Mount Vernon Campus thanks to financial support from the PAF Professional and Academic Development Fund. I was honored to attend the conference with PAF Advising Team member Anna Mahalak. This year’s conference was focused on the theme “Building Healthy Lives.” Due to my personal interests surrounding healthy living, and the experience of pushing a campaign for standing desks in my workplace, I was very excited to learn from other women leaders about the myriad ways that we can build healthier lives every single day. Each person’s experience at the conference was unique, and I decided to sit down with Anna to gain insight into how our experiences overlapped and differed at this year’s conference.

Like Anna, I was drawn to attending the conference because of the various communities that the conference attracts. Unlike many conferences where the audience is composed of mainly upper-level professionals, the WLC event has a wonderful mix of students, staff, faculty, and alums from the Mount Vernon Women’s College and the wider George Washington University. This diverse mix allowed for a wide breadth of perspectives and rich conversations. During the event, I was able to speak with Brigadier General Tammy Smith, who is the first and highest ranking out LGBT member of the U.S. Army Reserve. I also discussed financial wellness with Barbara Krumsiek, former CEO of Calvert Investments; claiming your physical presence with Ashley Thorndike-Youssef, founder of Now Next Dance; and protecting your online self with Jelena Roljevic, the Assistant VP for Business Intelligence at GW. Each woman was a leader in her field and was more than willing to discuss their field of expertise with anyone at the conference!

One of the most surprising takeaways from the conference for both Anna and me was the important connection between physical presence and leadership. Through my leadership course at The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, I learned about the importance of body language and using “powerful poses” to appear in charge of situations. During the conference, all the speakers discussed their own physical power pose and how it affected their experiences in the workplace, especially for those women who worked in male-dominated fields. As I navigate into the field of federal law enforcement, I will hold on to the lessons from these strong women about posture and exuding strength through movement.

I want to say thank you to those who support the PAF Professional and Academic Development Fund! Your support allowed me to attend this wonderful conference, and I suggest that current PAFs, staff, and alums take advantage of it next year!


PAF alumni are encouraged to support the PAF Professional and Academic Development Fund to ensure current PAFs continue to have access to experientially-oriented professional and academic development conference and training opportunities outside the university to complement their academic programs and their GW placement and leadership experiences. Learn more and make a gift today!