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MARSHALL – Showing leadership often means dealing with the unexpected and managing yourself and others. But organizers of the SMSU Foundation Women’s Leadership Conference say women can learn a lot from each other about growing and strengthening their skills.

“These are women who raise other women” said Stacy Frost, senior director of alumni relations and outreach at Southwest Minnesota State University. Area residents can register to attend the conference on Friday at SMSU.

This year’s program includes breakout sessions on developing leadership skills and tackling burnout, combined with inspirational speakers.

“We think it’s really something for women of all seasons to think about and plan for,” said Frost.

More information about the conference, as well as online registration, is available at www.smsufoundation.org/events/annual/womensleadershipconference/index.html.

The Women’s Leadership Conference is back in person this year, having hosted a virtual conference in 2021, Frost said. The organizers hope to have around 200 participants.

The original vision for the leadership conference came from Cindy Verschaetse about five years ago, organizers said. As a board member of the SMSU Foundation, Verschaetse was interested in raising scholarships for female student leaders, as well as providing opportunities for women to come together for their personal and professional development. The event created an endowment for female student leaders at SMSU.

Friday’s conference lineup includes keynote speaker Jo Saxton, an author and entrepreneurial coach with a multicultural approach to leadership training.

“She is spectacular. She really wants women at the table for the right reasons and to be heard,” said Frost.

There will also be breakout sessions with Rana DeBoer, Director of Impact for Keystone Group International, and SMSU alumni Karla Munkel and Charli Gamber. Both Munkel and Gamber are authors with a background in corporate leadership.

Frost said the three breakout sessions all covered topics that complement each other, ranging from fueling women’s energy to preventing burnout and surviving life’s curveballs.

The Women’s Leadership Conference is open to attendees of all ages, including college students, Frost said. SMSU students can attend the conference free of charge.



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