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Brenau’s Leadership Colloquium celebrates, shares stories from successful women
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Catherine Dixon speaks during the 4th Annual Women's Leadership Colloquium on Friday, March 17, 2017. - photo by AJ Reynolds/Brenau University

The most important thing for Debra Dobkins is to maintain Brenau University’s role in women’s lives. As dean of Brenau’s Women’s College, she has made sure that happens by bringing successful women to the university to encourage students and alumnae for the past five years.

It’s all part of the Women’s Leadership Colloquium, set for 1:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, March 16, at Brenau’s Hosch Theatre, with a reception to follow. This year’s theme is “Defining Moments,” which Dobkins said is pretty fitting for a year that falls on Brenau’s 140th anniversary.

Women’s Leadership Colloquium

Where: Hosch Theatre, 429 Academy St., Gainesville

When: 1:30-4:30 p.m., March 16


“The women who will be speaking, they’ll be sharing some of their defining moments and talking about their paths to leadership, some of the challenges they’ve faced, some of their accomplishments and they’ll also certainly offer some advice for other leaders,” Dobkins said.

Linda D. Nelson, UPS President of Customer Experience, will speak at Brenau University's annual Women's Leadership Colloquium. - Photo courtesy of Brenau University
Keynote speaker Linda Nelson is president of customer experience at United Parcel Service Inc. Alongside her will be Carole Ann Carter Daniel, chief financial officer of Carroll Daniel Construction Co., Deborah Keith Mack, a former member of the Hall County Board of Commissioners and local activist, and Lydia Jackson Sartain, an attorney with the law firm Stewart, Melvin & Frost.

“This is our main event that we plan in the Women’s College, so it’s always something we spend a lot of time on,” said Whitney Neveils, an assistant to Dobkins. “We start working on it a year in advance. One is done and then we start working on another.”

The event will be similar to those in the past, featuring student leaders’ speeches, student performances and surprise giveaways. An afternoon tea will come before the event and a reception afterward.

“It’s going to be a great afternoon,” Dobkins said. “And for those that can’t come for the whole day, they can certainly come for part of it.”

Dobkins considers the event uplifting for those who attend, with one telling her they would like a leadership event every month instead of just once a year.

Having a group of women from all different backgrounds and careers helps Dobkins reach the goal of having an inclusive event that is good for everyone. Though it’s a women’s leadership conference, she said men are welcome. It’s especially geared for students, alumnae and even women who are further along in their careers or are retired.

“These are women that have been successful in a range of different fields,” Dobkins said. “Every year, we really try to stretch it and appeal to audience members from a whole range of experts.”

With such a mix of people, Dobkins said the afternoon tea and reception are key to creating a networking experience they may not be able to find anywhere else.

“I want these strong female leaders to see and meet our students and be impressed by them,” Dobkins said. “I think we just don’t have enough opportunity to come together for a shared conversation over a shared purpose like this.”

“It’s going to be a lot of motivation, a lot of passion, a lot of energy and excitement. I think it’s going to be our best one yet.”