13th Annual HIGHER Ground
Women's Leadership Conference
Friday, Nov. 1, 2019
Greater Richmond Convention Center
403 North Third Street
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the VCU Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, we seek to build upon the success of our work by reflecting on the leadership of individuals, organizations and communities over the past 20 years and anticipating their leadership needs for the next 20 years. This year’s theme, "Building Bridges Together: Past, Present, and Future," invites us to explore how historical and contemporary experiences provide us with opportunities for new leadership insights for the future.
Recent years have been marred by tensions between the past and present, individually and collectively, and have required deep reflection on past acts, accounts, and accolades. The legacy of our historical actions and inactions continue to affect the present and how we understand the future. For many, history provides the richness of how we are seen and defines who we are today. For others, history is fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies with who we believe ourselves to be in the present. If our future is, in fact, a result of our interpretation and execution of experiences in the present, looking forward to 2039, what would reflection of our leadership past reveal about our present-day leadership? What would these reflections foretell about our leadership in the future?
This year, we aim to identify and promote opportunities that create strong partnerships and collaborations across people, time, and space by bringing together the latest in leadership practice with a shared desire to sustain interest in furthering our knowledge and understanding of leadership.
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 are available for full participation in this event.
Conference Date: November 2, 2018
Conference Keynote Speaker: Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Board of Governers 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