About the Conference
The Annual HIGHER Ground Women's Leadership Conference provides high-quality education and networking opportunities. Each year, more than 300 participants come together to share ideas, illuminate innovative leadership practices and explore factors that influence their effectiveness at work, at home and in their communities. This conference provides participants with a tremendous opportunity to grow, develop and learn with practical solutions for success in their personal and professional lives. Our one-day, multi-track format offers a self-directed facilitated learning environment with education sessions and interactive forums. Key features include: plenary sessions, panel discussions, workshops, and regional and national speakers highlighting timely issues of importance to women. Continuing Education Units (CEU) are available for full participation in this event.
This one day event celebrates who you are as a woman in all aspects of your life. The conference will provide you a tremendous opportunity to grow, develop, and learn with practical solutions for success at home and at work. Guided by The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, with presentations from regionally and nationally known workshop leaders, participants will explore the latest and innovative practices in leadership excellence. Come spend a day with great leaders, find what motivates you, and build leadership skills that last!
14th Annual HIGHER Ground
Women's Leadership Conference
November 6, 2020
The 14th Annual HIGHER Ground Women’s Leadership Conference will: interrogate why deserved recognition for women's accomplishments is absent from prevailing leadership spaces; explore how to break free of leadership models that undervalue women; and embolden women to take the lead without needing to hold position, ask for permission, or wait for an invitation. Not Waiting to Lead will disrupt the narrative to catalyze the change that demands a future in 1st place.
We are offering our conference virtually for the first time to an extended audience. We have curated a unique set of sponsorship opportunities to reflect our expanded reach. To learn about our sponsorship opportunities, please click here.
Call for Proposals (now closed)
Conference Date: November 1, 2019
Conference Keynote Speaker: Gayle Elizabeth Harris, MSW, QMHP, Founder and COO, LivingLifeMatters, LLC; Chef and Co-owner, 2U4U Mind, Body, and Soul Found Master
Opening Plenary Speakers: Paula Otto, Partner, LeadSpark Consulting; Nakeina E. Douglas-Glenn, Director, The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute; Carmen Foster, Principal Consultant, Forward and Wise; Susan Wilkes, Preseident, Wilkes Consulting
Conference Date: November 2, 2018
Conference Keynote Speaker: Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor, Graduate Department of Public Policy and Administration, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Opening Plenary Speakers: Christy Coleman, CEO, American Civil War Museum; Monique Greenwood, Chief Operating Officer, Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns; Aradhana Bela Sood, Professor, Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University; Pauline Weger, Founder, Quotabelle, Inc.
Conference Date: November 3, 2017
Conference Keynote Speaker: Vida Williams, Founder and Managing Partner, AXIS Partners, Inc.
Closing Plenary Speakers: Aaron Anderson & David Leong, Virginia Commonwealth University
2017 HIGHER Ground Conference Program: Front Matter, Agenda, Speakers, Back Matter
Conference Date: January 29, 2016
Conference Keynote Speaker: Freda Thornton, President & CEO, FWL & Sons Inc.
Morning Plenary Speakers: Gwen Williams Dandridge, Former TV News Anchor and Professor, Mass Communications, Virginia State University; Melanie H. Green, Vice President and Provost, Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing; Kelli Lemon, Social Entrepreneur; Colette McEachin, Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney, City of Richmond
Conference Date: January 30, 2015
Conference Keynote Speaker: Suzanne Malveaux, CNN Award Winning Journalist
Morning Plenary Speaker: Ava-Joye, Anchor/Video-Journalist, WRIC-TV; Ruth Jones, Executive Director, YWCA South Hampton Roads; Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary Administration, Commonwealth of Virginia; Angela Wilkes, Director Supplier Diversity & Sustainability, Owens & Minor
Conference Date: January 31, 2014
Conference Keynote Speaker: Anne Goddard, President & CEO, ChildFund International
Morning Plenary Speaker: Suzette Denslow, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia; Tiffany Jana, CEO, TMI Consulting, Inc.; Ruth Jones, Executive Director, YWCA South Hampton Roads; Jennifer McClellan, Delegate, Commonwealth of Virginia's 71st District; Colleen Quinn, Attorney & Partner, Locke & Quinn Personal Injury & Law Attorneys; and Gayle Jessup White, Communications Consultant, Writer, Realtor
Conference Date: January 25, 2013
Conference Theme: Destination HIGHER Ground: Your Guide to Excellence in Leadership
Conference Keynote Speaker: Sonia Aranza, Global Consultant, Executive Leadership Expert, Aranza Communications
Morning Plenary Speaker: Mary Foley, Bodacious Ventures, LLC; Debbie Lennick, Vice President, Market Innovation, CREATIVE; Susan Mitchell, President, Guardians of Honor, LLC; Wanda Mitchell, Vice President, Diversity & Equity, VCU; Katherine Winstch, Founder, The Mom Complex
Conference Date: January 27, 2012
Conference Theme: Maximizing You: Unlocking the Treasures Within
Conference Keynote Speaker: Mary C. Doswell, Senior Vice President- Alternative Energy Solutions, Dominion
Afternoon Plenary Speaker: Mary Foley, Bodacious Ventures, LLC
2012 HIGHER Ground Conference Program
Conference Date: January 21, 2011
Conference Theme: Transforming Ourselves Transforming the World
Conference Keynote Speaker: Gail Letts, President and CEO of the Central Virginia Region, SunTrust Bank
Conference Date: January 23, 2009
Conference Theme: Living Today, Leading Tomorrow
Conference Keynote Speaker: Eva Teig Hardy, Executive Vice President, Retired, Dominion
Conference Date: December 1, 2006
Conference Theme: Leadership Presence: Courage and Confidence as Women Leaders
Conference Keynote Speakers: The Honorable Jean W. Cunningham and The Honorable Anne G. “Panny” Rhodes