ACE forum highlights the importance of women in leadership roles

Antonio Pequeño IV, News Editor

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Speakers at this year’s ACE Women Leadership Forum urged listeners to discuss the significance of women leaders in today’s educational and sociopolitical systems.

 

The forum was hosted at CSUSM in the USU Ballroom on Oct. 19 and began with a keynote speech from Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, political commentator and staunch Trump critic. Navarro’s speech addressed taking the initiative to step outside of sociopolitical echo chambers and the role of diversity and community in the U.S.

 

Navarro said she believes there is a lack of diversity and gender representation in politics. “We’ve lost the ability to listen to each other [and the ability] to respect and empathize with what other people bring, different stories, different experiences. So if there’s something I would encourage you to do, [it’s] get out of your comfort zone.”

 

In the conclusion of her speech, Navarro gave a call to action, “inaction in the face of injustice is not an option. Fear is not an option… We must channel all these things we’re feeling, angst and anger and frustration [into voting]. It is the vehicle we have in America to make a difference.”

 

After an intermission, the forum presented a presidential panel moderated by Dr. Patricia Prado-Olmos, CSUSM’s vice president of community engagement. Members of the panel were President Karen Haynes of CSUSM, President Gabrielle Star of Pomona College and President Julianna Barnes of Cuyamaca College.

 

The presidential panelists were presented with questions about mentorship, self-care, leadership and the “rise together” theme of the forum.

 

Haynes shared her take on mentorship, explaining that mentors can be outgrown and that relationships with them must be characterized by a give-and-take mentality.

 

“Sometimes you can outgrow your mentor… I have tried to be aware of when that point is for me, to let somebody go because they really are in a different state or need a different kind of mentor for the next career step… It is very much a two-way conversation,” said Haynes.

 

On the topic of mindfulness and achieving work-life balance, Barnes discussed the importance of prioritizing one’s responsibilities. She said, “it’s not quite possible to always be in a state of balance. But there’s always a pursuit of balance.”

 

She then shared a saying about balancing both personal and professional responsibilities during trying times. “The trick is to keep all of the balls in the air and to know which ones are made of glass and which ones are made of rubber because you will drop some balls,” said Barnes.

 

Starr guided attendees on how to carve their own paths to leadership by breaking down societal standards. “Young women will say, ‘I never thought I could be a leader because I wasn’t made in that mold,’ but the mold was made by people sixty years older than [them] and have different anatomy. So just allow yourself to have that privilege of realizing you don’t have to fit the mold of everybody you’ve seen before you,” said Starr.

 

Haynes closed the forum with the admonition, “may it continue to be our collective commitment to open as many doors, reduce as many barriers and make it easy for more and more women to succeed. Together, we are stronger than any glass ceiling.”

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