Recap: Engage!Cleveland's Next Generation of Women

On March 28th I attended Engage!Cleveland’s Next Generation of Women event at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. I was joined by approximately 300 other women who were ready to learn more about leading our workplaces and our communities. The event was from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm, and included lunch.

The first speaker Jan Murphy was a definite crowd favorite. Jan is a former nun, past director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Fairview Park location and current Senior Vice-President of Mission and Ministry, Sisters of Charity Health System. Jan spoke about caring for your whole self. I really enjoyed her commentary on being a good leader by respecting the seasons of life your coworkers and employees are in. She suggested that as women we must learn how to negotiate, we shouldn’t think that we can’t. My favorite quote from her chat was “no one can ever take your power away unless you give it to them.” Jan has had an interesting career path and I enjoyed learning about her story and what she has experienced over her career.

The next speaker was Emily Drake who is a Financial Adviser. I liked her approach to advising - she stated its all about the relationship and not about the money. I definitely think I’d like to find a financial adviser after hearing from her. Unfortunately its hard to provide financial advice to a group of 300 people all at different stages of life, but I thought Emily did a great job of helping provide tips and tricks to finding a financial adviser that works for your life.

The third speaker was Jennifer Cohen, who spoke on being authentic in the workplace. Jennifer definitely understands the struggle of leading as a woman and I liked her personalized touches to her presentation. She even included a handout that had us “test” a few pieces of our leadership style and personality. Jennifer said that keeping your emotions in check affects the outcome that you want, and I definitely agree with her. I’ve always struggled with managing my emotions in the workplace because I am very emotional and I liked her commentary on the subject. I got up and asked a question at the end of her session. I wanted to know how, as women, we can break through and get more responsibility in a male dominated industry or office. Jennifer suggested that most men bond in the office over the social events that take place in and outside of the office (ex: happy hours, golf, etc.) As women we tend to shy away from these events for various reasons, but we need to take action and get involved. You build relationships with bosses and coworkers by attending the social events. I definitely want to get more involved in my office to change my relationship with work and my coworkers.

The next speaker was Margaret Bernstein who spoke about community involvement. Margaret originally got involved in the Cleveland community through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and has been a champion of community involvement ever since. She received a Emmy in 2016 for her #WeReadHere campaign promoting literacy by encouraging parents to read to their children every day. As an attendee of this event, I am already interested in getting more involved professionally and personally, and I think Margaret did a great job of understanding her crowd. One of the first questions asked of her was, “Why should we get involved,” and she said, “because this room can change the world.” That still resonates with me, three weeks later. If you are interested in getting involved in the Cleveland community we put together a guide of places to volunteer that you can find here.

Finally Cathy Belk, president of JumpStart Inc., and Shanelle Johnson, Deal Flow Analyst at JumpStart Inc., spoke about networking. They both chatted about past networking opportunities that they’ve attended and some best practices for making the most of your time. At this point I feel like we all have tried to or probably know how to network, but they did a good job of focusing on ways to improve what you already do. I liked that Cathy took the time to explain how following up with your connections is very helpful in the networking and post-networking process. I’ve been trying to keep up with my connections better, especially as I am currently looking for a new position.

Overall, I would consider this a successful day spent in the company of like minded women. I was very impressed by the number of Cleveland companies that sent more than one women to the event. I will definitely be attending future Next Generation of Women events and I encourage you to join me.

Engage!Cleveland’s next big event is Young Professional Week taking place June 22 - 29. This week is aimed at providing young professionals with more opportunities to experience everything Cleveland has to offer, and we can definitely get behind that!!

About YP Week: Featuring a variety of morning, afternoon, and evening programs and events all tied to the thriving Cleveland Young Professional Community, CLE YP Week has quickly become Engage! Cleveland’s signature event. Last year, more than 100+ partners/sponsors and over 1,500 individual attendees partook in the week strengthening their connection to Cleveland. Events focused on civic life/engagement, economic development, networking, entrepreneurship and equality for young professionals in Cleveland.

Follow Engage!Cleveland on Facebook for more information.


Header photo credit: Caitlin Antje LLC

Disclosure: I was asked to promote Engage! Cleveland's Next Generation of Women event on social media, in exchange for a complimentary ticket to the event. All opinions are TCBL’s.