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Sessions | Speakers | Sponsors

15th Annual HIGHER Ground
Women's Leadership Conference

Pivoting Forward: The LeaderSHIFT

The practice of leadership is most often understood within the context of relationships inside organizations and institutions. The boundaries that dictated our lives months before have all but dissolved, prompting the need to reconsider our definition of leadership, where it takes place, and who controls it. Circumstances and opportunities have required women to readjust their expectations and what is expected of them. While the past 18-months took a physical, emotional, social, and political toll on many families, it has also provided a moment for reflection, resignation, recovery, and reimagination of what our lives could be beyond this moment. It has forced a shift in our notion of leadership and allowed us to reconsider our roles and worth at home and work. Opportunities have emerged from an uncertain environment for leaders to reflect on how we capitalize on the leadershifts that have transpired over the last year to pivot forward.  



Registration for this event is now closed. 


As The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute launched planning efforts for the 2021 Annual HIGHER Ground Women's Leadership Conference, we embraced the guiding principles of compliance, compassion, and creativity to develop and present an event that reflected these concepts. We surveyed conditions, reviewed the university's protocols and policies, and used this information as the foundation and guidance to determine the best course of action for our conference. The health and safety of our participants, presenters, and supporters, acknowledgment of the continuing demands on work and life during a pandemic, and remaining in compliance with university safety guidelines were of the utmost importance to us. They informed our decision to proceed with a virtual programming format.

The registration fee includes program material and conference box mailed to your address.

Please note: Only registrations received by October 17, 2021 will receive the conference box prior to the event date. Late registrations will receive the conference box at a date to be determined.


Credit card: Payments made with credit card can be processed online at the time of registration.  

Journal Voucher (VCU Employees Only): For VCU employees wishing to pay for registration by journal voucher (JV), Contact our office at (804) 827-1169 for appropriate index and account information. After completing the journal voucher, please email with: 

  •  JV number and the payment amount 
  •  Each participant's name for whom the JV is paying 
  •  Copy of registration invoice/confirmation 

All Non-Credit Card Payments must be received by Monday, November 1, 2021 


A refund of the registration fee cannot be honored for any reason once submitted. Registration is transferable to another party as necessary. Transfers should be made in advance by Friday, October 29, 2021

To transfer your registration to another party, please email us at

  •  Your first and last name 
  •  Email address  
  •  Confirmation number 
  •  First name, last name, and email address of new registrant 

Agenda at a Glance

8:30 AM Morning Mindful Moment
9:00 AM Conference Opening and Welcome
9:30 AM Opening Keynote Speaker - We All Win When Women Lead
10:45 AM Plenary I - Rising Above Resistance: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Women in Today’s Organizations
12:00 PM Lunch Break
12:30 PM    Plenary II - Who’s Got Next? Preparing for the Next Generation of Impactful Women's Leadership
2:00 PM Plenary III - Powerup! Preparing for the Essential Needs of Women in the Workforce
3:30 PM Closing Keynote Speaker - Hope, Love and Grace...Reaching Higher Ground
4:30 PM Conference Close-Out
4:45 PM Fireside Chat - After-Conference Leadership Conversation
5:00 PM Adjourn

Serve as a Conference Sponsor

We have curated a set of unique sponsorship opportunities to reflect our expanded reach. If you or your organization would like to participate in this year’s event as a Sponsor, please click here. 

Event Sponsor ($10,000)
Keynote Sponsor ($7,500)
Conference Box Sponsor ($5,000)
Plenary Sessions Sponsor ($5,000)
Supporting Sponsor ($2,500)
Happy Hour Sponsor ($2,500)
Supporting Sponsor ($1,000)
Door Prize Sponsor ($300+ value)
Conference Website ($250)

Join us for HIGHER Ground 2022!

The VCU Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute is now recruiting for its HIGHER Ground Women's Leadership Development Program. HIGHER Ground is a five-month leadership development experience for current and emerging women leaders who are committed to investing in themselves and their organizations. HIGHER Ground is designed to benefit women at all career levels in public, private, nonprofit and entrepreneurial positions. This highly rated leadership development experience offers opportunities for professional growth through experiential learning, personal assessment, leadership coaching, and networking. By engaging in intellectual and experiential workshops, participants learn key principles aimed at enhancing their leadership styles to help them successfully leverage opportunities for advancement. HIGHER Ground Women's Leadership Development Program applications are due November 15, 2021. To learn more about the program click here.

Make a Gift to GEHLI

Monetary gifts from Friends of GEHLI support the promotion and development of current and emerging leaders in academic institutions, as well as other public, private and nonprofit organizations and communities. We ask you to help the Institute continue its mission of excellence. Your gift can help us further enrich the Institute experiences for all future participants. To make a donation, please visit this link.