Annastacia Long, Features Editor

Looking back, Keisha Mabry said she had all the time she needed, but she just did not use it right.

Mabry spoke to a crowd in the Century Rooms of the Millennium Student Center as part of the third annual Women’s Leadership Institute at the University of Missouri-St. Louis on March 17.  She said, “When I was in college I was obsessed with time. I always talked about it. I always thought about it. I was always filling in this blank: I wish I had more time to… I always wished I had more time to eat, sleep, relax, and study. And then it was the opposite. I wish I had less time to… And I kept going back and forth with time.”

Mabry went on to tell the audience that it was not 100 percent her fault that she did not use her time right. She explained that We typically are conditioned, especially as young women, that we are led to believe that we always must seek permission. Believing we are never at the right age and believing that it is never the right time.

“Time is an illusion,” she explained before asking the audience, “Then why are we obsessed?”

This lesson of the presentation “Reclaiming My Time” is exactly what the third annual conference had in mind to address leadership abilities, increase awareness of personal skills, and assist women in developing learning strategies to help them create positive sustainable change in their communities.

The annual, one day conference at UMSL was organized by The Office of Student Involvement and Coordinator of Leadership Education, Xavier Blackwell. OSI believes leadership is a critical part of a student’s experience in college as well as an important tool to bring to both an individual’s personal life and career. It had 21 presenters, 15 sessions, and a closing panel.

The conference offered three 50-minute breakout sessions: “Navigating Personal & Professional Life,” “Navigating Perceptions of Women in the Workforce,” and “Navigating Cultural Competencies.” This list of presenters included women in leadership roles within the St. Louis community such as Karissa Anderson, manager of advocacy for The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis; Dawn Gipson, senior vice president and creative program director at Fleishman-Hillard; Angela Hochman, chief catalyst at BIGWIDESKY; and Cheri Tillis, executive VP and COO/Fathers’ Support Center of St. Louis.

The closing panel examined women’s leadership roles and equality in the workplace through the experiences of women. The panel included Jenna Norman, recruitment and marketing specialist; Tiffany Reed, social justice/diversity & inclusion; Eboni Sterling, academic coach; Lisa Lidgus, conservation and education liaison; and Carlie Lavin, program coordinator at St. Louis University.

They shared their experiences in the workplace including the challenges and successes along their path to leadership, the bravest decision they have made, and their advice for the next generation of women- moderated by Ashlee Roberts, assistant director of OSI.

Attendees came away considering the leadership challenges faced by women, including networking, mentorship, and career advancement. Attendees of the third annual conference looked at moving beyond the perceptions of women in the workplace and thriving in diverse cultures.

women's leadership institute
Photo by Roderick Wilbon/The Current