Goal of Women’s Center’s leadership conference: Improve civility

Brian Trompeter - Inside NOVA Around Town

Via Inside NOVA

It’s been impossible to miss for the past few years: The U.S. is becoming more politically and ideologically polarized, while civility and respect for others have dwindled.

The Women’s Center will try to make a dent in the problem with a series of discussions and presentations at its 33rd annual Leadership Conference on April 6 at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner.

Building on last year’s theme of “Be the Change,” this year’s motto of “It Starts with Us” will concentrate on things people can do to “create positive conversations and allow space between us for education around our differences, rather than being  dismissive,” said Shirley Clark, the center’s CEO and executive director.

“We need to learn about our biases and understand how we bring different things into the world,” she said.

The event will be held at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, 7920 Jones Branch Drive in Tysons. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the program will start promptly at 8:30 a.m.

Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency, will address the conference and be followed by “A Conversation on Leadership and Civility,” moderated by Mark Chandler, executive vice president and chief legal counsel for Cisco Systems.

The discussion’s panelists will include:

• Doug Duncan, president and CEO of Leadership Greater Washington and a former  county executive in Montgomery County, Md.

• Irma Becerra, president of Marymount University.

• Elizabeth Birch, a vice president with CBRE in Washington, D.C.

• Toni Townes-Whitley, president for U.S. regulated industries at Microsoft.

• Sue Evans, founder and chairman of Evans, Inc.

This year’s conference also will offer a leadership forum featuring interactive discussions on how attendees can help initiate a return to civility. Panelists will include Diane Gongaware, vice president of U.S. public-sector services for Cisco; Sandra Montcrief-Stuart, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at the Women’s Center; and Angie Morgan, a founding partner with Lead-Star.

“We’re including more time for interactive conversations to better absorb the contents of the day,” Clark said.

Event attendees also will have their choice of concurrent sessions featuring presentations on a wide array of topics. This year’s offerings will include:

• “Three Surefire Ways to Boost Energy, Vitality and Productivity,” presented by Jill Cruz, a certified nutrition specialist with Body Wise Food Smart.

• “Narrative Intelligence: How Reframing Your Leadership Story Can Reshape Everything,” presented by Friderike Butler, CEO of Butler Communication. Butler also recently finished a term as chairman of the Vienna Town/Business Liaison Committee.

• “Changing the Narrative on Aging and Retirement: Baby Boomers and Generation X Meet the Encore Career,” presented by Elizabeth Mahler, co-founder of the Howard County (Md.) Encore Network and a faculty member of Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Education.

• “What Was I Thinking? Mitigating Bias in Our Everyday Lives,” presented by Machelle Williams, senior director and diversity and corporate social responsibility for Volkswagen Group of America.

• “Mindfulness Tools for Compassionate Leading and Living,” presented by Martha Brettschneider, founder of Damselwings LLC.

• “How to Perform Better, Be Happier and Make People Like You,” presented by Shannon Polly,  a leadership trainer, coach and author.

As in previous years, the conference will feature a selection of vendors and exhibitors.

Tickets are $225 ($234 if paid by credit card) and sponsorships are available. For more information, visit www.thewomenscenter.org.