Exceptional Leadership by Women

I had the good fortune this week to attend the Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WiPL) Annual Conference sponsored by Coastal Carolina University, and would like to share my takeaways with you.


WiPL was created to help leverage the impact women and their contributions of time, talent and resources in critically important leadership. Terri DeCenzo, an outstanding leader, is the Executive Director. Her mantra for this conference takes Ghandi’s challenge to “Be the change you wish to see” to “Lead the change!”

As Terri states in the conference program, unleashing the potential of women is one the keys to economic prosperity and social progress. Amen to that! The conference program also features a quote by Lisa Ling, Executive Producer and Host, “Our America with Lisa Ling:” “The world is changing and in places where the most progress is happening, women are leading the charge.”

There were so many valuable and encouraging messages from the speakers and the conference attendees themselves. Here are just a few:

Alexis Glick, CEO, GENYOUth Foundation, former Fox News and Today Show anchor, discussed her story about having the courage to seek opportunities, never shutting the door behind you because relationships, even old relationships, matter, and feeling enlivened in our work. She talked about role models and mentors and sponsors, men and women who guided her.

Here is an amazing leader, with all the skills, and with four children. Additional and important messages she conveyed included pick the right partner, use your soft skills, e.g., hand-written notes, and in our leadership, look at both sides of an issue and provide a safety net to our team members.

Colleen Johnston, CFO and Group Head, Finance, of TD Bank Group, shared her story of being recruited by TD Bank, having the inner-confidence to explain her strengths and her areas for improvement. By the way Colleen presents herself, there would have been no doubt in the minds of the bank’s senior leadership that she would master these development areas!

Colleen’s main message was to look at business today as a level playing field, and to “Go get it.” She also conveyed that our inner-strength, what we say to ourselves, determines the outcomes we achieve. We must “lean in” to find our inner-toughness. We must make sure our voice is heard.

I wish all CEOs and HR and OD professionals could hear Coleen’s philosophy for TD Bank being a family friendly work environment, enabling women with family responsibilities to continue their contributions and leadership. It is about results, not hours!

This weekly post is long enough now, so I will not write on, though I am sure I could, as there were so many other amazing leaders in addition to Terri, Alexis and Colleen at the conference.

U.S. businesses would be so much stronger with its leadership more shared by women and men. We would have more inclusiveness, ideas, and compassion, which would lead to loyalty and winning organizational spirit, and, in turn, outstanding financial results year after year.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.