Simmons Leadership Conference Recap

The 36th annual Simmons Leadership Conference, the “the premier women’s leadership conference in the world”, was held Thursday, April 2, at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

In just one day, this women’s professional development event featured 15 nationally-recognized female leaders who all shared candid stories about the challenges and successes they’ve experienced with the more than 3,000 female professionals in attendance. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton inspired this year’s theme, “Dare to Compete,” when she offered this charge during her closing remarks at last year’s conference.

Simmons College’s sponsorship of this conference continues its tradition of encouraging innovation and initiative in order to positively impact lives. We hope that the following nuggets of wisdom we’ve compiled from the hashtag #SLC15 will inspire and motivate you as an emerging leader in social work.

Opening Keynote: Dawn Hudson, Chief Marketing Officer of the NFL

Changing the Culture of America’s Favorite Sport

A master of strategic brand development, Hudson has become one of the country’s leading marketers. As the previous president and CEO of PepsiCo she’d already established a relationship with the NFL and was an easy choice to take on the role as CMO of the League. Hudson shared how she’s working to address the issue of domestic violence and accommodate the growing female fanbase in order to rebuild the brand’s image.

Don’t burn bridges, you never know who is going to call you with your next opportunity.

Cracking the Confidence Code — What Women Need to Know

Claire Shipman, Journalist and Bestselling Author

A Washington insider and regular contributor to Good Morning America, award-winning journalist Claire Shipman has covered politics and international affairs for more than 20 years. She tackled the topic of discrepancy between male and female advancement in the workplace and how women can overcome instinctual behaviors in order for them to lead more powerful, confident lives.

We need to start seeing confidence as a skill.

The Five-Second Rule: Achieve Breakthrough Performance in Life and Work

Mel Robbins, Founder of

Starting out as a public defender in New York City, Mel Robbins moved to Washington, D.C., and served in management roles at several successful technology startups. She launched her own executive coaching firm and regularly appears on CNN and FOX News as a commentator and legal analyst. She is an award-winning syndicated talk radio host, the founder of, and author of the best-seller Stop Saying You’re Fine. Robbins explained how life in the 21st century actually inhibits our abilities. She shared an entirely different outlook on what we are capable of achieving.

Confidence is all about the action you take.

Change nothing. Nothing changes.

Morning Keynote: Christy Haubegger, Founder of Latina magazine

Envisioning is the First Step to Becoming

Founder and former CEO of Latina magazine, Christy Haubegger created the business plan for the successful magazine before graduating from law school. Now, she’s an agent at the Creative Artists Agency and applied her media and marketing expertise to film as the associate producer of Chasing Papi and executive producer of Spanglish. Haubegger reviewed her successes and failures, reminding women of all backgrounds that the sky’s the limit.

We can’t be what we can’t imagine.

Don’t pull the ladder up when you get to the top. Now your job is to reach down and pull others up!

Afternoon Keynote: Arianna Huffington, Chair, President, and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group

Redefining Success: The Third Metric that Benefits the Bottom Line

In 2005, Arianna Huffington co-founded the Pulitzer Prize-winning news and blog site The Huffington Post. She’s since been named one of Time magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people and has been on Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 most powerful women. Huffington’s latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list last year. She offered a new perspective on success that is based on focusing on our own well-being and balancing both our careers and personal lives. Her advice was that “leaning back” will make us wiser and better able to lead the lives we want.

We need a third women’s revolution: where we change the world.

Life is shaped from the inside out. Go live your life with creativity, joy, sleep…Go!

Woman Warrior: You’re Built to Compete … You Just Didn’t Know It

Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP

Dr. Pamela Peeke is a health and fitness guru, a lifestyle expert for WebMD, and is chief medical correspondent for Discovery Health TV. She’s the founder and CEO of the Peeke Performance Center for Healthy Living and has written several best-selling books about the science behind food and addiction. Peeke explained how women are innate competitors and are extraordinarily skilled at focusing on goals and creating solutions. She also revealed how to maximize those physical and mental capabilities.

Dont cheat the mind. Don’t cheat the body. You can do it!

You are a packaged deal. Mind and body… it’s a yin and yang thing.

Winning with Women — Straight Talk About Where We Are Today

Panelists: Cathy Graham, Chief Financial Officer, 2U Inc.; Erin McSweeney, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, EMC; Shari Slate, Chief Inclusion & Collaboration Officer, Cisco

These strategic experts representing some of the nation’s top companies discussed how they are paving the way for women in their organizations and examined the initiatives necessary for success. Topics included creating leadership strategies, how to measure achievements, and working with male leaders and sponsors. President of YWomen Jeffrey Tobias Halter moderated the panel.

“Diversity is a business imperative” – Erin McSweeney

Closing Keynote: Sally Field, Award-winning Actress, Activist

A Conversation with Sally Field

In addition to being a winner of multiple Academy, Golden Globe, and Emmy Awards for best actress, Sally Field has also had success behind the scenes as a writer, director, and producer for film and television. Having served on the board for Vital Voices Global Partnership for several years, Field is a longstanding women’s rights activist and recently received the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality Award for her advocacy for gay rights. She discussed with Emmy Award-winning journalist and Simmons alumna, Joyce Kulhawik, her work helping to identify and nurture women leaders in developing nations and reflected on 50 years experience in the entertainment industry. Moderated by Emmy Award-winning journalist and Simmons alumna, Joyce Kulhawik.

If you’re not reaching for something you are dying.


"If you're not reaching for something, you're dying" – Sally Field #SLC15

Posted by Sally Field on Thursday, April 2, 2015

Don’t just be good at something. Be excellent at something.