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Brenau leadership event gathers women who inspire others not to play small
Colloquium launches weekend of women's events; Expo set Saturday at Downtown Center
Dr. Debra Dobkins, dean of the Women’s College, introduces speakers Friday at the Women’s Leadership Colloquium at Brenau University. - photo by Erin O. Smith

North Georgia Women’s Expo

When: 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. today

Where: Brenau Downtown Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville

Cost: $5

More info: 770-503-9060,

The founder of a marketing company, the founder of a clothing line best known for its preppy bow ties, a newspaper publisher, a therapist and a health care professional all have one thing in common.

They’re all women.

The annual Women’s Leadership Colloquium at Brenau University brought together five women from different fields to share their stories. The keynote speaker for the event was Amanda Slavin, CEO and founder of CatalystCreativ, an “experience studio” based in Las Vegas that helps cities, brands and institutions across the nation flourish.

Slavin, listed on this year’s Forbes magazine 30 Under 30 for Marketing and Advertising, shared her story with the women gathered for the colloquium Friday afternoon.

“I want to be able to share my story so that you can see yourself in me,” she said. “I want to be really vulnerable so you can see me as a real person ... and realize you can do absolutely anything I can do.”

Slavin discussed three business essentials, which she dubbed “the three Ps” — passion, profit and solving a problem.

She said while passion is essential to find fulfillment in work, bringing home a paycheck is an essential “that no one wants to talk about.”

Finally, using passion and a profit to solve a problem is the greatest objective and what she does at CatalystCreativ, which works to engage millennials and audiences through educational and inspirational experiences or conferences.

She had advice for Brenau students to find ways of doing this immediately.

“Everyone has the opportunity to follow your three Ps,” she said. “Everyone has the opportunity to follow their passion. It doesn’t have to be something daunting and big. If you are passionate about health and wellness, maybe you start a running club. If you’re passionate about education, maybe volunteer at a local school or start an education blog.

“Everyone can do it.”

Slavin was joined by Emmie Henderson Howard, a Brenau graduate and founder of the clothing and accessory line Southern Proper; Carol Burrell, president of Northeast Georgia Health System; Charlotte Atkins, publisher of The Times; and Khalilah Robinson Johnson, another Brenau alumna, an occupational therapist and a PhD candidate in occupational science.

All five women shared stories of professional success and leadership in the workplace.

Howard advised “business is in the details,” and gave a free Southern Proper beach towel that read, “Go a little overboard” to everyone in attendance.

Burrell discussed how to handle stress and times of conflict and how to balance work life and personal life. Atkins shared her start in journalism as a precocious 13-year-old sports writer in Eufala, Ala. She gave out free tickets to today’s Women’s Expo, which includes morning and afternoon sessions at the Brenau Downtown Center.

Finally, Johnson discussed the subtle discouragement girls and women often hear, telling them they are less capable than men.

She shared a quote from author Marianne Williamson, which she said motivates her to be her best self.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” Johnson said, quoting Williamson. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

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