The Gustavian Weekly

Gustavus Women in Leadership holding big conference | The Gustavian Weekly

By Elsa Beise - Staff Writer | April 27, 2018 | News

This weekend, the Gustavus Women in Leadership organization will be heading to their big conference held annually in the spring.

This  will mark  the organization’s eighth event as such. This year’s topic is “Leadership: Influence, Not Authority.”

GWiL focuses on the idea of building up women to become leaders in the world and to help them develop the skills which leadership requires.

This conference is vital to the mission of the organization and to be able to help women build confidence in themselves as leaders.

“It is important to develop women of all ages so they can advocate for themselves, live purposeful lives and serve their neighbors for a better world.  This is our vision,” Co-Founder of the organization, Kathi Tunheim, said. Students also help to plan this conference and are dedicated to the mission that it supports.

“The conference is important because is bring everyone together in an empowering environment. We are able to celebrate the accomplishments we have made over the academic year, energize for the year ahead, and learn from some amazing women,” Senior Mathematics and Psychology double major and Co-President of GWIL, Claire Laakso, said.

Tunheim is looking forward to the speakers that the organization has provided, all alumni of the Gustavus community and even a current Communication Studies professor, Dr. Sarah Wolter, who will be giving a workshop on women and the media.

“We have invited three alumni to serve as keynote speakers in general sessions at the conference. They are Kristine Jurczyk ‘97, Dr. Nicole LaVoi ‘91 and Elin Alden ‘97 from Sweden. We also have invited 7 other impressive women to serve on two panels (Women’s Advocacy Panel and Women’s Vocational Journey Panel)” Tunheim said.

She is also looking forward to the connections that this conference provides for alumni and current students.

“Students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the college all attend this conference. It is exciting to see our students interacting with successful women in many fields. I have observed how much the alumni enjoy coming back to a Gustavus event like this as much as the students love learning from the alumni,” Tunheim said.

This conference also helps Gustavus become more noticed in the world of women and leadership.

“Many successful women CEO’s, business owners, educators and non-profit leaders have told me they are extremely proud Gustavus hosts an event like this which is putting our college on the map. We are slowly becoming distinctive on this topic of women and leadership and other people are noticing the outstanding speakers and talent we host, the amount of alumni donations we raise to hold the event and the numbers attending have increased this year,” Tunheim said.

The conference has also seen a rise in those attending.

“We have already broken a past record with over 250 attendees registered for this Friday with more than 30 men attending.  That is another first,” Tunheim said. There are so many attendees and the growth of the conference has allowed it to be moved to a bigger stage.

“In past years, the conference has been held at the American Swedish Institute. We are excited but sad to announce that we have outgrown ASI and will be moving the conference to the Minneapolis Event Center,” Laakso said.

Laakso also emphasized the importance of being involved in GWIL, despite gender. “Man or Woman… get involved in GWIL. It is beneficial for any major and we are always looking for new members,” Laakso said.

It is important to develop women of all ages so they can advocate for themselves, life purposeful lives and serve their neighbors for a better world. 

Tunheim and GWIL is incredibly thankful to those who are supporting this important student organization. “We are grateful to all those attending or who have supported GWIL and the conference,” Tunheim said.

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