Six things we learned at ACSA’s Women in School leadership Forum

October 7, 2019
School leaders explored what it meant to lead courageously during the 2019 Women in School Leadership Forum, held Sept. 25-27 at the Paséa Hotel and Spa in Huntington Beach. With 16 workshop sessions, four keynotes and two networking receptions, the more than 250 attendees had plenty of opportunities to be inspired. Here is just a sampling of some of the wisdom shared during this conference. 1. “Pick a student and shadow them for an entire day of their life. I think what you’ll find is shocking.” This quote comes from Ember Conley, superintendent of Mesa Public Schools in Mesa, Arizona, who gave the opening keynote address on Thursday. She shared the story of two middle school students who died within days of each other and how her district investigated the deaths and communicated with the community. Thanks to the quick response, they were able to discover the cause: synthetic opioids that were shipped directly to a student’s home. Conley urged administrators to work more closely with medical professionals and use MOUs to share information on students who may be at risk of harming themselves or others. She also encouraged administrators to shadow a student for a day this school year to better understand the pressures that lead to students engaging in harmful behavior. 2. “I said yes — a lot. And pretty soon I was everywhere.” Cindy Petersen, superintendent/CEO of Gateway Community Charters, said this after accepting the 2019 Exemplary Woman in Education Award. “What that did for me is it created a visibility, a reputation and a relevance in my career that created more and more opportunity for me,” she said. “Showing up and saying yes is a critical part of growing leadership and growing your career.” 3. “The most powerful woman in the room is authentic.” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson gave this quote during her keynote address about leading with courage and heart. She shared the story of her mother, an immigrant from Puerto Rico, and how this story informs who she is as a leader. Estrella-Henderson said that self-awareness leads to authenticity, and it is through being authentic that we can lead and inspire others. 4. “When we come to these events, we should always be thinking we will meet our next boss.” Presenter Rosa E. Coronado shared this during her presentation, “Smashing the Glass Ceiling with Purpose and Determination.” She shared some pitfalls and advice on moving up in our careers. How do you know when you should you leave a job? “When you’re on top,” Coronado said, because your talents may be needed at another school. 5. “If you’ve ever felt like a door was closed for you, open a door for someone else.” ACSA President Linda Kaminski said this during her opening remarks to the crowd of female school leaders. 6. “You have to be the good girl. You can’t come off as the most confident, even when you’re the most informed person in the room.” This comment came from an attendee at a session presented by Erikca Brown on Courageous Conversations about Micro-Aggressions. Attendees reflected on their experiences and discussed how to identify and respond to micro-aggressions.
Lisette Estrella-Henderson points to attendees, telling them “You matter” during her keynote.Attendees take selfies and tag them with #LadiesWhoLead.Attendees wear white at the Unity Reception during the Women in School Leadership Forum.Attendees enjoy the terrace at the Paséa Hotel & Spa during the welcome reception.Attendees mingle during the welcome networking reception.Attendees share experiences during a keynote session.Carmella Franco and Cindy Frazee held mock interview sessions with attendees.Attendees break into pairs and share during a session at the Women in School Leadership Forum.Attendees at the Unity Reception.Attendees at the Unity Reception.Attendees at the Unity Reception.Attendees analyze their leadership styles during Megan McMills’ session on Courageous Conversations.At center, Irella Perez, WLF planning committee member, listens to participants.Keynote speaker Ember Conley.ACSA President Linda Kaminski welcomes attendees.Attendees at the 2019 Women in School Leadership Forum.Erikca Brown presents on Courageous Conversations about Micro-Aggressions. Attendees enjoy the sunset following the welcome reception.Attendees chat with exhibitors at the 2019 Women in School Leadership Forum.Attendees share during a session.2019 Exemplary Woman in Education winner Cindy Petersen accepts her award.

© 2019 Association of California School Administrators