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4th annual Leadership Colloquium features female speakers March 17 at Brenau
Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, educational consultant and former superintendent of Birmingham City Schools

Women’s Leadership Colloquium

When: 1:30 p.m. March 17

Where: Hosch Auditorium, 429 Academy St., Gainesville

Cost: Free

More info: or

Successful and inspiring female leaders across various fields will share their stories of experience and advice during the Women’s Leadership Colloquium at Brenau University.

Debra Dobkins, dean of the Women’s College at Brenau, started the event four years ago.

“One of the reasons that I started it is, because data indicated that women who are interested in women’s colleges are far more interested than their co-ed counterparts in leadership skill development,” Dobkins said. “I knew that, that was something that I wanted to work on offering to our students here.”

The fourth annual will be from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, March 17, with reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in Hosch Auditorium at 429 Academy St. in Gainesville.

And a conference just for that purpose will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, March 17, in Hosch Auditorium at 429 Academy St. in Gainesville. A reception will be from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on the Brenau University campus.

But Dobkins didn’t stop with her students. Seeing the event would attractive and benefit men and women in the community, she opened registration to all.

“We put it out there the first year and had about 100 people who came, which was great,” she said. “Some were students, some faculty and a lot of community members. We have a lot of alums who come, but I think about 30 percent of our participants are just folks from the community who are interested in leadership opportunities and network opportunities.”

As the event enters its fourth year, Dobkins expects to see “a lovely mix in the audience of students who are just starting out or wanting to become leaders as well as very seasoned and experienced leaders.”

Scheduled from 1:30- 4:30 p.m., the seminar will include five speakers, all women who offer “expertise in different fields that would benefit (the) audience,” Dobkins said.

“I am constantly on the lookout for successful women who are passionate about what they do and want to share their time with us,” she said. “I’ve also tried over the years to have speakers from different fields represented. This year our speakers come from business, from the military, from education. We’ve got a former HR director at UPS, and we have an entrepreneur.”

The speakers are: Catherine Dixon, principal of ghSMART; Mary Kathryn Wells, CEO of Wells Marketing Agency; Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, educational consultant and former superintendent of Birmingham City Schools; Amy Whitley, retired vice president of human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer for UPS; and Patty Wolfe, retired rear admiral of the supply corps for the U.S. Navy. They will share their stories and offer advice.

Dobkins noted a common theme will pop up in their speeches.

“I think there’s a golden thread that tends connect the speakers’ subjects,” she said. “For example, a couple of them are talking about really finding your purpose, following your purpose, leading with passion, leading with purpose and encouraging women to get in there and lead.”

In addition to the speakers, the Brenau Vocal Chamber Ensemble and two other students will sing. An afternoon tea, sponsored by UPS, and a closing reception, sponsored by the Rhodes Law Firm, will follow.

And although it’s a women’s conference, Dobkins said men are welcomed, too.

“You don’t just have to be a female to come,” she said. “There are important lessons and advice about leadership that could apply to all of us, regardless of age or gender.”

Dobkins then encouraged people to register for this “good networking opportunity.”

“Some people might not be able to come for the whole day, and they’re certainly welcome to come for part of the day if that’s what would work best for them,” she said.

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