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Another successful year for Olivet College’s Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) is already on the horizon with planning for the institute’s events and programs well underway. This fall, the second class of students for the Women’s Leadership Institute has reached full capacity. Further, the third annual Cultivating Women Leaders (CWL) event is scheduled for March 22, 2019 under the theme Together We Rise, and two girls’ leadership camps will be held in June 2019.

“We had really positive outcomes from our 2017-18 programming based on testimonials from students and women who attended our programs and events,” explained Traci Corey, WLI director, Olivet College Presidential Spouse and ATHENA International board of directors member. “This year, we have ramped up our programs, and I am confident we will be able to develop even more impactful experiences for all girls and women from middle school to college students.”

ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Program

WLI will launch its programming with the Olivet College ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Program this September. The curriculum of the program follows the acclaimed ATHENA International Leadership model, developed by ATHENA International and used around the world. ATHENA International is a well-recognized successful non-profit organization founded in Lansing, Michigan that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders through programs that are administered in partnership with host organizations.

The ATHENA International Leadership model includes lessons on living authentically, learning constantly, building relationships, fostering collaboration, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, giving back and celebrating. In addition, many of these lessons are paired with soft-skill development such as communication skills, creative thinking, work ethic and conflict resolution.

“As a member of the ATHENA International board of directors, not only do I have the privilege of helping young women develop their leadership skills here at Olivet College, but I am honored to play a role in developing the curriculum that our programs utilize,” Traci said. “Drawing from our experiences at OC, I learned that today’s young women want to be a part of their learning experience – they don’t learn best from lectures, but they do excel when presented with engaging activities. It’s been a great honor to be a part of the development of this important curriculum.”

Over the course of the fall and spring semesters, the OC ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Program participants will meet roughly two times per week, every other week over dinner. Sessions are presented by Traci, in collaboration with premier women leaders from across Michigan. Students learn and engage through interactive sessions; readings from books, such as “Becoming Athena: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership” by Martha Mayhood Mertz, founder of ATHENA International; small and large group discussions, a personal behavioral assessment and much more.

A Culture of Women Supporting Women

The First Women’s Leadership Institute Graduating Class

Further, the incoming class of female students will have an additional resource – the first Women’s Leadership Institute graduating class, many of which are current students at OC today. Often, this program creates a new platform for students who may otherwise not connect to build meaningful relationships, thus creating an even greater culture of female support on campus.

This culture expands beyond the students in the OC ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Program and continues to all women who are a part of WLI programming on campus. On Sept. 14, the WLI Meet and Greet invites all students, staff and faculty who attended the 2018 Cultivating Women Leaders event for a chance meet and network with the WLI advisory council and other prominent women leaders in the state of Michigan.

In addition, the CWL Planning Committee, comprised mainly of students, has already been working hard to plan an exciting and impactful 2019 event. The 2019 keynote speaker will be Polo Tate, improve actor and author of “Deep Dark Blue: A Memoir of Survival.” Back by popular demand, the Olivet College Alumnae Panel will return with four new, successful and diverse alumnae. In addition, two new panels will join the lineup. One, titled “Let’s Get Real,” will feature Traci, as well as Delstene Atkinson, special assistant to the president, and two prominent female leaders from California, and a second, “Be the Change, OC Student Panel” will highlight current male and female students. The event will also include two interactive sessions covering how to dress for success and negotiation skills.

“Many of our students are really getting involved in the planning process, and they are helping to identify and create the deliverables they know women their age will benefit from,” Traci said. “I also think that this is an incredible, real-world opportunity to show these young women that they do have a voice and a platform to stand in their voice. It gives students a real avenue to embrace and build their leadership abilities, and help create a better future for themselves, their peers and future women to come.”

In June 2019, WLI will again host girls’ leadership camps, this year expanding to offer two separate camps – one for middle school girls and one for high school girls. These programs also utilize the ATHENA International Leadership model and will address often difficult and overlooked topics such as mental health issues and diversity and inclusivity training. As the capstone of the Women’s Leadership Institute, graduates are encouraged to serve as mentors at the camp, supporting multi-generational connections between girls and women of all ages and fully embracing the principle to give back.

“The great thing about the ATHENA International Leadership model is that it is for all ages,” Traci stressed. “The model doesn’t only teach women to be strong leaders, but it also helps women develop life lessons and become stronger, wiser individuals. I encourage everyone to get involved, by giving your time, treasures or talents to at least one of our programs.”

Become the Leader You Aspire to be

For more information about WLI or any of its programs, contact wli@olivetcollege.edu.

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