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June 07. 2013 8:59PM

Passion and courage

Women's leadership summit provides insight, inspiration


Hundreds of women participated in the New Hampshire Women's Leadership Summit on Friday at Nashua Community College. Here, some of the participants dance and applaud during the opening ceremony of the event. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — Women stood united on Friday, eager to become more motivated and passionate about their personal and professional lives during the New Hampshire Women's Leadership Summit.

An estimated 350 women were encouraged to face their fears, not be afraid to fail and learn from their mistakes. They were also warned about other individuals who may attempt to bring them down — and more often than not, it may be a female counterpart, according to Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, who spoke during the opening ceremony of the event at Nashua Community College.

The single greatest challenge for professional women has always been other women who may try to begrudge another person's success, said Lozeau.

"Don't be that woman, and don't be afraid of that woman," she said, reminding those in attendance that they can succeed in spite of them.

A good leader, added Lozeau, can guide without stepping on others. It is alright to follow others and admit when mistakes are made, she stressed.

"You have the courage to say, 'I can do that much more,' " said Lozeau. Whether it is getting the kids to school on time, finishing the laundry, running errands, keeping a marriage strong, volunteering and of course holding full-time jobs, Lozeau said it is important to learn from other remarkable women also trying to manage it all.

Annabel Beerel, president and CEO of the New England Women's Leadership Institute, was one of the guest speaker's at Friday's summit.

Kicking off the festivities with a motivational speech about courage, and even a little dancing to Donna Loren's "We Are Woman," Beerel held up a nearly 800-page book on leadership theories and practices.

The book, according to Beerel, has no references to courage or bravery. Not sure what to make of that, Beerel said leadership and courage must go hand in hand.

"Why do leaders need courage? Courage is the ability to act despite our fears," she said, stressing good leaders must be courageous enough to face the fear of being humiliated, alone or unpopular.

While previously interviewing various women in different professional fields, Beerel said their greatest ethical concern — above all else — was whether they picked the right moral battle so that they will not lose their existing position of power.

Leaders, especially females, must focus on the inner work and "wrestle with the divine and the demon within," she said, adding courage is a human virtue that is always appropriate.

While receiving messages of courage on Friday, female professionals received lectures on various ways to improve their success, including workshops on communicating effectively, fostering leadership, guiding careers, de-escalating tense encounters, creating a dynamic personal brand and more.

Other sessions focused on gender equality, fundraising, leadership roles in the financial services industry and the courage to become an entrepreneur.

"I really like the theme and the message of today's event," said Janelle Travers of Concord, a trust administrator at Cambridge Trust Company in Concord. "This is such a really good topic."

Travers says she is fortunate to have a lot of positive female role models in her life and at her job.

Jennifer Jones, also of Concord, agreed. Jones attended the summit as an employee at Merchants Automotive.

"My company really supports education and further learning for women," said Jones, adding she found Friday's event to be quite inspiring.

Some of the keynote speakers included Jessica Jackley, a social entrepreneur, Chris Grumm, president of the Women's Funding Network, and Liz Walker, a television journalist and humanitarian.

khoughton@newstote.com


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