Mount St. Mary's College - Women's Leadership Conference
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Speakers and Sessions

Susan Feniger, Keynote Speaker

Susan Feniger's passion for food has propelled her into a three-decade career as a successful chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and media darling, with the Los Angeles Times recently saying, "She deserves an Emmy for energy." She spends most days dividing her time between her first solo venture, Susan Feniger's STREET, and the Border Grill restaurants in Santa Monica, Downtown LA, and Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, as well as the Border Grill Truck--all co-owned with Chef Mary Sue Milliken. A veteran of nearly 400 episodes of Food Network's "Too Hot Tamales" and "Tamales World Tour" series along with Milliken, Feniger also co-authored five cookbooks including City Cuisine, Mesa Mexicana, and Cooking with Too Hot Tamales. After a recent stint on season two of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters," a feature story in Oprah Magazine, and a wide range of media including "The Today Show," "Chef vs. City," "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," Gourmet, Sunset, and Bon Appetit, she was also a featured chef at the U.S. Open and cooked for the "Real Housewives of Orange County." Susan shines a light on a number of worthwhile organizations and has been on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation for 17 years and the board of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center for three. In all her endeavors, Susan's genuine love for the authentic flavors of street and home cooked food has been her driving force and she shows no signs of slowing down.


Ann McElaney-Johnson, PhD

Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson is president of Mount St. Mary’s College, the only women’s college in Los Angeles. She has over 25 years of service to liberal arts colleges throughout the country. Dr. McElaney-Johnson is a champion of innovative teaching and learning and has a deep understanding of the changing landscape in higher education. She earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MA from Middlebury College, Vermont, and a BA from the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts. She serves on many boards and speaks nationally and internationally about the importance of women’s colleges and the advancement of women and girls.


Lori Nishiura Mackenzie

Lori Nishiura Mackenzie will lead two sessions. The first is "The Language of Leadership" followed by "The Dynamics of Hyper-Effective Teams". Ms. Mackenzie is Executive Director of Stanford University's Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Her work has been published in numerous outlets, and she speaks widely on the topics of Bias 2.0, leadership and creating effective workplaces. She is executive editor of Gender News and the annual research magazine, upRising. Ms. Mackenzie is the founder of the online Voice & Influence program aimed at providing people with the skills, information and inspiration to be as effective as possible. She has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Language of Leadership

Language can influence our perceptions of men and women, and the potential each has to lead. In this session, we discuss the language of leadership and the role bias can play in shaping different leadership outcomes for men and women. The session will offer strategies for individuals and managers to examine and sharpen their own voices and their advocacy of others, with an aim to advance women's leadership and create effective organizations where all employees thrive.

The Dynamics of Hyper-Effective Teams
From team projects to the next breakthrough product or movement, assembling and motivating the best team possible is critical to success. Hyper-effective teams harness the talents of every member to move beyond group think to maximize creativity and innovation. This interactive workshop is designed to have every person in the room take what's discussed and apply it to their work, lives and passions.


Joumana Silyan-Saba

Joumana Silyan-Saba will lead "Conflict Management: Tools for Successful Leaders." Ms. Silyan-Saba is a Senior Policy Analyst for the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission. She works directly with communities to promote healthy inter-group relations and create collaborative templates to encourage civic engagement. Ms. Silyan-Saba obtained her BS in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement with a minor in Business Administration Human Resources Management at California State University Long Beach. She completed her MA in Negotiation and Conflict Management at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Session: Conflict Management: Tools for Successful Leaders
Conflict management skills and emotional intelligence have directly been linked to effective leadership practices. However, navigating conflicts and building healthy relationships can be challenging tasks. In this session, we will explore the relevance of conflict management techniques and share tools to effectively apply them.


BJ Gallagher

BJ Gallagher will lead "It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been." Ms. Gallagher is an inspirational author and speaker. She writes business books that educate and empower, women's books that enlighten and entertain, gift books that inspire and inform, and kids' books that charm and delight. Whether her audience is corporate executives, working women, or a group of giggling youngsters, her message is powerful, positive and practical. She motivates and teaches with empathy, understanding and more than a little humor.

Session: It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been
Are you struggling with discovering your purpose in life? Whether a nervous college graduate facing the future, a 40-something mom seeking renewal, or have been recently laid off, this session will educate you on how to listen to and honor your inner voice because it's never too late to revisit, and relive, one's deepest desires to become what you want in life.


Sande Smith

Sande Smith applies her skills to combining strategic communications, creativity and aspirational storytelling to rally support for social justice and the common good. As of September 2014, she is the new Director of Strategic Communications at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, which is dedicated to advancing practice, policy and research aimed at helping young people prepare for both college and career. Prior to ConnectEd, Ms. Smith was Senior Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Women’s Foundation of California. While at the Foundation, Ms. Smith raised the Foundation’s profile and increased the number of people who engage with the mission.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Portuguese and Brazilian studies from Brown University.

Session: Communicate with Confidence: Gain Credibility and Influence
Too often, we find ourselves in important situations where we need to speak off the cuff, and what we say falls short. It doesn't have to be that way. Learn how to prepare for those times - whether in the workplace, boardroom, or with family and friends - so that your words reflect your values and help to move others to action.



Beyond the Boys Club: Achieving Career Success in Male-Dominated Fields
In this session, a panel of senior women who work in a range of male-dominated fields will provide practical insights into achieving success and moving beyond the boys club in the workplace. They will share key strategies on overcoming stereotypes that exist today, and moving up the ladder while retaining your sense of integrity as women.

Annie Chu

Annie Chu is a founding principal of CHU+GOODING Architects in Los Angeles, focusing on projects for arts-related and higher education clients. She is a licensed architect in California, with NCARB certification. She has also held licenses in Kentucky and New York. Ms. Chu received a MS in Architecture & Building Design degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Southern California Institute of Architecture. In 1989, she received the Skidmore Owings Merrill Traveling Fellowship to conduct research on Mayan and Incan architecture in Central and South America. In 2004, she received the First Place Award representing the US in RIBA's Diverse City Competition, and joined the RIBA delegation to China. Her current work includes a Mexican Cultural Center LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown Los Angeles, an upcoming exhibit design for the Hammer Museum, a new headquarters for Southern California Public Radio (KPCC 89.3) in Pasadena, the Culver Center of the Arts, a University of California Riverside graduate arts facility joining the California Museum of Photography by housing the historic Keystone Mast Stereoscopic slide collection in downtown Riverside, California. Ms. Chu lectured and taught at various schools of architecture across the country for over 16 years and is currently a lecturer at USC's school of architecture.


Judge Michelle Williams Court

Judge Michelle Williams Court was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2011. She currently sits in a family law assignment in downtown Los Angeles, where she hears a wide variety of custody, visitation, property, domestic violence and other family law matters. Judge Court currently sits on the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Law Library and serves on several court committees, including serving in a leadership capacity on the court Technology Committee. Before her appointment, Judge Court was Vice President and General Counsel of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, one of the nation’s premier public interest law firms. Judge Court represented Bet Tzedek on a statewide level and was responsible for the management of its legal program which served more than 10,000 clients annually. Prior to joining Bet Tzedek, Judge Court worked as a civil litigator focusing on complex civil rights litigation and also completed a civil rights fellowship with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. She has served on the boards of California Women Lawyers and Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and has served as a Commissioner on the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation and as a member of Senator Barbara Boxer’s Federal Judicial Advisory Committee. Judge Court is a graduate of Pomona College and Loyola Law School.


Carolyn DeVinny

Carolyn DeVinny heads The DeVinny Group, specialists in ridesharing and other transportation systems, emission reduction options and compliance. The firm began work with a major financial institution in 1989 as part of the team to create one of the first regulated commute plans approved by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The DeVinny Group has contributed to over 1,000 Trip Reduction and Employee Commute Option plans mandated by over thirty public agencies and covering approximately 500,000 employees working for employers in groups of 25 to 15,000. Ms. DeVinny was appointed to the United States EPA Employee Commute Options Flexibility Working Group as the only trip reduction consultant on that committee. The firm is a Women-Owned Business Enterprise.


Jennifer Ferro

Jennifer Ferro is the general manager of KCRW and president of KCRW Foundation. In her three years heading the organization, Ms. Ferro has transformed the institution from Southern California's flagship public radio station to a worldwide digital content distributor and source of arts and culture discovery featuring a global community of explorers, curators and creators.

Under her leadership, in addition to creating 100 hours of original programming a week, KCRW has developed three live Internet radio channels and four successful mobile apps including the revolutionary Music Mine, a digital tour of audio adventures of artists handpicked by KCRW DJs. KCRW's digital presence also includes dynamic blogs, original content features, live event streams and a vibrant social networking community. In just one year, unique website visits grew by 133 percent and KCRW's YouTube channel had over 4 million views. Social media channels reach 1.3 million people while 1.6 million hours of content are consumed online and via apps each month.

Ms. Ferro joined KCRW in 1995. She has held varied roles during her tenure, including executive producer of “Good Food” and consulting producer of “DnA: Design and Architecture.” Ms. Ferro is currently vice chair of the AIR Board, an organization dedicated to supporting and promoting independent producers in public media. In 2011, she was chosen as one of Los Angeles’ “Game Changing Women Leaders Who Make an Impact,” by Los Angeles Magazine. Ms. Ferro earned her bachelor's degree from UCLA.


Tess Vigeland

Moderator: Tess Vigeland is a national award-winning, veteran journalist, and a well-known voice to millions of American radio listeners. She is CEO of Tess Vigeland Productions, a Los Angeles-based multi-media company. Ms. Vigeland spent 11 years as an anchor for public radio's Marketplace, including 6 hosting the personal finance show Marketplace Money. Ms. Vigeland is currently writing her first book under contract with Random House.