16th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference to be Held Thurs., March 7, at Ferrum College
Ferrum, Va. (Feb. 12, 2013) - The 16th annual Ferrum College Women’s Leadership Conference will be held on Thurs., March 7, in Franklin Hall on the College campus. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast and continues with a variety of speakers and events throughout the day. The Conference is free and open to the public but online preregistration is requested before February 28, 2013 at www.ferrum.edu/wlc.
This year’s Conference theme is “Sustaining Women’s Voices,” which coincides with the College’s overall 2012-13 theme of sustainability. Featured speakers are Amazon Conservation Team Senior Director of Operations Liliana Madrigal; clinical psychologist, songwriter, and award-winning bluegrass musician, Louisa Branscomb, PhD; and Ferrum College assistant professor of political science and international studies program coordinator, Dr. Sandra Via.
Madrigal’s keynote address will be “Women of the Colombian Amazon: Their Role in the Health of Their Communities.” Madrigal co-founded the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) with husband and writer Dr. Mark Plotkin, author of Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice, who visited the College in Fall 2012. The ACT works to increase sustainability and advocate human rights for women of indigenous communities across the Amazon region. According to the ACT web site, Madrigal’s “initiative encouraged the formation in 2004 of the first full-fledged union of female traditional healers in the Colombian Amazon, the Asociación de Mujeres Indigenas de la Medicina Tradicional.”
Branscomb will share her experiences as a woman in uncharted territory during her Conference presentation entitled “Bad Girls and Banjos: Breaking the Wrong Rules the Right Way.” As a musician in the 1970s, Branscomb was one of the first women to front a modern bluegrass band. A songwriter and banjo player, Branscomb composed Allison Krauss’s breakout hit “Steel Rails”, was a nominee for the 2011 Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America’s (PBMA) Songwriter of the Year Award, and has won two International Bluegrass Music Association Record Event of the Year trophies. Other musicians have recorded a number of her songs. As a psychologist, Branscomb was one of the first to write about concepts such as psychological surrender and spiritual aspects of trauma, and one of the first to research the connection between childhood abuse and traumatic stress in adulthood.
Dr. Via, this year’s alumna speaker, graduated from Ferrum College in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She earned a master’s in political science and a Ph.D. in planning, governance and globalization from Virginia Tech. Dr. Via is the only person to speak at the Conference as both a student and an alumna.
The conference traditionally includes a musical or theatrical performance and this year Helen Prien, a faculty member in theatre arts, will portray 20th century author Dorothy Sayers as she gives Sayers’ “Are Women Human?” speech. Two Ferrum College students, Kyle Zeller, of Rocky Mount, and Jessa King, of Cana, Va., will give responses.
On Wed., March 6, Branscomb will play a conference kick-off concert with bluegrass musicians Jeanette and Johnny Williams. Jeanette Williams is SPBMA 2012 Female Vocalist of the Year for traditional bluegrass. The event will take place in the Panther’s Den from 7 to 9 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
To register for the 16th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference, visit the conference web site at www.ferrum.edu/wlc.
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About the Women’s Leadership Conference: The purpose of the Women’s Leadership Conference is to empower women and men and to provide positive role models for leadership. Several Ferrum College departments and organizations sponsor the Conference including the Boone Honors Program, the Office of Institutional Advancement, the Office of Student Leadership & Engagement, the Integrated Programming Board, and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Theme Committee.
Past speakers of the Women’s Leadership Conference include some very famous women. Last year NPR’s “A Way with Words” host Martha Barnette was keynote speaker. Keynote speakers have also included Linda Chavez, a George Bush nominee for Secretary of Labor (2001); New York Times best-selling author Sharyn McCrumb (2002); Cherokee/Appalachian poet Marilou Awiakta (2003); Sharon Mehdi, author of “The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering” (2005); Virginia’s first female attorney general, Mary Sue Terry (2005); and Danville’s first female fire chief, alumna Shelby Irving (2007.)
The Women’s Leadership Conference Committee is led by coordinator Nell Fredericksen, a local artist and member of the college’s Holocaust course faculty. The committee, composed of faculty and staff members, meets throughout the year to organize the annual event.
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