The Gustavian Weekly

GWiL hosts successful annual conference on dealing with inevitable conflict

By Staff Writer - Ella Napton | May 5, 2017 | News

Professor Kathi Tunheim speaking at the GWiL Conference in Minneapolis. She is joined on stage by students Katey Nelson, Lydia Kennedy and Tessa Semerad.

Professor Kathi Tunheim speaking at the GWiL Conference in Minneapolis. She is joined on stage by students Katey Nelson, Lydia Kennedy and Tessa Semerad.

At Gustavus, there are ample opportunities to attend impactful conferences.These conferences host speakers ranging from academic to activism, where students can learn something often times unaddressed in classroom settings. From the Nobel Conference to the MayDay! Conference and Building Bridges, topics of interest span a wide range at Gustavus.

“Conflict is everywhere. The question is how are we going to navigate it when we do confront it in our lives?” – Professor Tunheim

One such conference is the annual Gustavus Women in Leadership conference, which aims to engage alumnae and current students to “prepare, promote and inspire Gustavus women in their professional and personal leadership development”. The mission was founded to empower women and make them motivated to flourish in the business-world.

This year’s conference title was ‘Navigating Conflict in an Ever-Changing World’. The goal this year was to discuss conflict and management, such as trusting one’s intuition when it comes to decision-making, allowing oneself to be vulnerable, making ethical decisions, and addressing the conflicts that arise between generations.

There were two key-note speakers, Kyle Gibson and Jennifer Myster, Gibson is the Founding Executive Producer of the Women in the World Summit and Myster is the President of the Alina Health Buffalo Hospital. Gibson addressed the ‘gut feeling’ and Mysters talk was titled “From Perfection to Vulnerability: Overcoming Conflict Through Resiliency”, in which she spke about turning conflicts into progress.

Along with these two keynote speakers there were eight break-out spekers, including Gustavus own Professors Kathi Tunehim and Kathy Lund Dean. Each have significance in the bsuienss world and were eager to share their own personal experiences to those listening.

“Each speaker used their own stories to inspire women in attendance to stand their ground and use their voice for good in the workplace and in the world,” Senior Alex Kopp said.

Conflict management was important to address because all attendees, young and old, could identify with what was being said.

“We have all experienced conflict. We learned about it on a global, national, state, organizational and individual level. Conflict is everywhere. The question is how are we going to navigate it when we do confront it in our lives?” Professor Tunheim said.

For many, the most pertinent topic discussed was the interpersonal conflict that comes about when a leader does not take into account personal relationships with those who may be lower than them, disregards the need for self-care, and focusing only on achieving perfection. This was addressed by Myster.

“To highlight the important lessons in overcoming perfectionism, recognizing the importance of self-care for herself and employees, and allowing for vulnerability to create more authentic and powerful leadership,” Senior Mae Meierhenry said.

Many students are notoriously over-achieving and overly involved on campus and they can put their self-care last when it comes to prioritizing. It is commong for students to push themselves too far when it comes to searching for internships, participating in rigorous athletic programs, and leading student organizations.

Some go past their limits many times to earn good grades and create impressive resumes for future employees. Moreover, the conference’s topic was important for graduating seniors, as work conflict environment is inevitable and should not be intimidating.

“We can deal with these conflicts gracefully by listening to others, being resilient, and using ethical decision-making skills,” Kopp said.

The Gustavus Women in Leadership Conference fosters a goal of improvement for the women who attend. It empowers them to address conflict accordingly.

The conference creates a foundation for women to support women. The goal is to create an environment that allows collegiate women to be successful post-graduation in the business world.

The 2017 conference was incredibly successful. The conference was completely sold out three weeks in advance and speakers flew in from across the country and provided a dynamic group of women that empowerd tohse in attendance.

The organizers of the conference, including conference chairs and seniors Katey Nelson, Lydia Kennedy and Tessa Semerad, received a lot of positive feedback following the event and believe the conference will keep improving and growing each year.