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6 Insights Every Resilient Female Leader Needs as shared during MSMU’s Women’s Leadership Conference 2017

When 500 women gather in one space to discuss leadership, magic is inevitable. This was the scene at Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) 2017 Women’s Leadership Conference where the overriding theme focused on The Resilient Leader. The result: panels and keynotes flowing with mic-dropping insights every resilient female leader needs.

“Our theme this year was ‘The Resilient Leader,’” explains Emerald Archer, director of Mount Saint Mary’s Center for the Advancement of Women. “We have learned that resilience is a key factor in becoming an effective, sustainable leader. By learning resilience, it’s easier to stay grounded, bounce back from failures, and be prepared to harness the kind of successes that propel careers forward.”

All smiles and camaraderie at MSMU Women's Leadership Conference 2017

All smiles and camaraderie at MSMU Women’s Leadership Conference 2017

I had the honor of serving on the Image in the Age of Instagram panel moderated by Beverly Jackson, VP, Social Portfolio Strategy for MGM Resorts International. My fellow panelists included Maggie Chieffo of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, “Dear White People” producer Ann Le and #WeAllGrow Latina Network founder Ana L. Flores.

Ann Le, Joy Donnell, Ana Flores and Maggie Chieffo speaking during the Image in the Age of Instagram panel.

Ann Le, Joy Donnell, Ana Flores and Maggie Chieffo speaking during the Image in the Age of Instagram panel.

Fortunately, I also got to check out other panels and speakers during the event. These accomplished women shared their thoughts on legacy, inclusiveness, conscious community building, mindfulness and more with the riveted attendees at MSMU. Here are 6 vital insights every resilient female leader needs to keep thriving.


It may sound simple, but executive communications coach LeeAundra Keany quickly pointed out that most women aren’t breathing properly. Our breath center is the belly, not the chest. In order to speak effectively at conferences or in the boardroom, breathing is key to staying focused, confident and energized. If your chest is expanding and contracting as you breath in and out, redirect to breathing from your belly.

Claim Your Wins

When it’s time to get your credit where your credit is due, “Remember to frame your language around the things you’ve earned. Not what you deserve.” says Karen Chong. As the director of audience & influencer engagement at AARP, Karen knows how to launch initiatives that redefine conversations. Her advice on rising into your legacy and making sure your achievements are acknowledged/rewarded is to focus your conversation on accomplishment and detail your wins.


When leadership opportunities come your way, before you dive in, ask, “What are you taking on and where are you trying to go? Do they align?” asserts Cristina Mancini Jones. Cristina helms the newly formed Technology & Creative Strategy group at 20th Century Fox. As a master at bridging the creative aspects of technology and storytelling, she has constant opportunity for growth. She highlights that opportunities are truly valuable when they align with your truth and the living legacy you are building.



Collaboration Over Competition

“It’s not a competition, it’s a collaboration.” Keisha Nix shared as she discussed building conscious communities. Keisha serves as executive director of the Lakers Youth Foundation where she works to provide opportunity youth in our communities with positive experiences and resources in education, health and wellness and sports. Helping kids recognize and develop their full potential is a team effort. Resilient leaders have to find alliances over adversaries.

Invest in Your Future

While you’re staying focused on the legacy, don’t forget about the currency and your financial needs. Instead of investing in expensive handbags, Valerie Mosley of Valmo Ventures urges to look at the S&P 500 and, “Start investing now.” Valerie specializes in advising, partnering with or investing in companies that generate value for shareholders as well as society. Leaders have to maintain resources and financial security that will help them continue to make power moves.

Self Care

Danielle Harlan pushed home the point that self-care isn’t optional. It’s necessity. She broke down that a resilient leader must stay committed to meaning and purpose, continuous learning, building a circle of support, fostering positive emotions, maintaining self-efficacy and self-worth and overall self care. Danielle heads the Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential. Her latest book, “The New Alpha,” showcases changemakers who are redefining success and leadership to fit our modern world. Part of that revolution is making self care an integral part of success at any level rather than postponing it as a perk of some unattainable future achievement.