Attend our breakout sessions during the Women’s Leadership Summit to find insights on leadership, service and advocacy. 

Breakout Round 1 Tuesday, March 1, at 2 p.m.

  • Walk This Way! Lessons from 25 Years of District Leadership in High Heels – Denise O'Dea

Women leaders have a unique perspective when it comes to leading a district or any organization. While women might be considered "the softer sex"....we CAN hold our own in a male-dominated field while keeping our feminine side intact. Women aren't men but don't let that scare you away from venturing into district leadership. After 25 years leading various school districts in Kansas, my tips and tricks will help set the stage for a successful career. A few of the lessons will be: 1. Learn how to navigate the board room from a woman's perspective. 2. Learn how to handle sticky situations from a women's perspective. 3. Learn how to build trust with your school board, staff, students and your community - all while walking in high heels! Come have some fun and laughs while learning to Walk This Way.


  • Exploring The Four Tendencies (and Ourselves) – Dr. Emily Riner

Come join in as we learn about The Four Tendencies (Obliger, Rebel, Upholder, Questioner), as outlined by the work of Gretchen Rubin. We will discuss the qualities of the four tendencies, how to find and "hack" your own tendency, and how to use this information when working and interacting with others.


  • Supporting Gender Equity Through Policy – Shannon Kimball & Kelly Jones

Using the process USD 497 went through to draft and adopt an equitable student dress code, we will share how board members shifted the conversation around gender equity to challenge stereotypes and dispel assumptions about gender for our students. We will also share how we responded to pushback, and how these discussions have guided board members and district administrators in thinking about gender equity in policy in our schools.

Breakout Round 2 Tuesday, March 1, at 4 p.m.

  • It started with a hashtag: Culture, Systems Change, and Student Success – 
    Dr. Alicia Thompson, Wendy Johnson, APR IOM, and Suzy Finn

Following eight consecutive years of devastating budget cuts, and the arrival of a new superintendent, the Wichita Public Schools needed a transformation of morale and the focus of a new community-driven strategic plan in order to change culture, change systems and accelerate student success. While it started as a hashtag, #WPSProud has become a rallying cry. This session will allow participants to learn more about the strategic elements of this campaign, its role during the COVID crisis, and how #WPSProud will play a role in emerging from COVID with strength and focus. Additionally, we'll engage participants in a discussion about the six keys of successful change management that have been essential to our success, and the communication framework that must be part of any successful leadership initiative.

  • Adding Heart to Crisis Communications – Lori O'Toole Buselt

In times of crisis, school leaders must be prepared to utilize mass notification systems and other platforms for efficient and effective communication. Yet, we acknowledge that automated messaging and email blasts can feel cold and impersonal at a time when our employees, students, families, and community need human connection and support the most. With her perspective as a former journalist and more than eight years in school communications, Maize USD 266 Director of Communications and Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA) President-Elect Lori O’Toole Buselt offers tips and takeaways for adding heart, support, and warmth to crisis communications. Her tried-and-true tips have helped her district navigate difficult times together.


  • What You See is What You Get! The Power of Vision Boards for Students and Staff – Dr. Marcy Cassidy and Burlingame Counselors

This session will provide the audience with information regarding the power of implementing Vision Boards both with staff and students as it relates to setting and attaining professional goals. 

Setting goals and attaining them are two very different beasts. One must be strategic and purposeful regarding professional goals. Participants in this session will learn the research behind the use of Vision Boards, see examples of both staff and student Vision Boards, and have the opportunity to reflect on their own vision for their current professional assignment. 

Participants of this session will take away knowledge of how to design and implement Vision Boards with both staff and students. They will also receive a bibliography of resources to assist with this process as well as the overall process of setting and attaining professional goals.

Breakout Round 3 Wednesday, March 2, at 9 a.m.

  • Leveraging Your Strengths to Advance in Leadership – Cindy Leines and Janet Swiecichowski, APR, Fellow PRSA, from CEL Marketing PR Design

Women are significantly underrepresented in school leadership roles. Yet, research is clear that women often demonstrate leadership competencies better than male counterparts. Let’s explore strengths-based leadership, superintendent competencies, and the barriers that often get in our way as female leaders. Walk away with the focus required to leverage your strengths as you lead, serve and advocate on behalf of your students and team.

  • Implementing Adaptive and Technical Tools for District Improvement During Challenging Times – Leslie Seeley and Dr. Allison Harder

Participants will learn about the manner in which the Emporia Public School district implemented a balance of adaptive and technical tools in order to increase trust and build capacity among board members, administrators, staff, parents, and the community.  All districts have been impacted by the pandemic.  In addition to this huge challenge, the Emporia school district was also managing significant changes in leadership, staffing, and its budget in the middle of the 2020-2021 school year and into the 2021-2022 school year.  Ms. Seeley and Dr. Harder will outline approaches, successes, and lessons learned.

  • Define adaptive and technical work and how various approaches can be used to support change as well as develop and maintain stability during stressful times

  • Identify tools as potential options for participants' districts in order to affect positive change


  • Homemade Leadership: What’s Your Recipe? – Melissa Veatch

Whether from Pinterest or passed down for generations, recipes for each dish have basic ingredients. However, what makes them special and unique depends on the person. The same goes for leadership! This session will focus on developing your own recipe for success, as a woman in leadership. Bullets include:

  • Authentic Leadership/Transformational Leadership

  • What's your TWIST on a traditional recipe?

  • Hands-On session with fun and networking

Breakout Round 4 Wednesday, March 2, at 10 a.m.

  • Building Level Job-alike session

  • District Level Job-alike session

  • Board Level Job-alike session