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Thousands inspired by three powerful speakers at Advancing Women’s Leadership forum

Sep 12, 2017

Thousands of women (and men) of all ages were excited, encouraged and empowered by a trio of outstanding women at the Advancing Women's Leadership forum, hosted by University of Pacific on Sept. 12. Attendees at this signature community event included university and college students and nearly 900 students from local high schools.

The morning opened with an exciting presentation by world-renowned pianist Jade Simmons, classical music's "No. 1 Maverick." Simmons, a renaissance artist who combines music with inspiration, energized the audience by delivering a phenomenal performance along with her message to impact, not impress, people by being yourself in all situations.

Next, attendees heard from Bank of America California's President Janet W. Lamkin, who was named one of the 100 most influential business women in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lamkin, a Stockton native, was the first woman to be president and CEO of the California Bankers Association, the largest banking trade association in the country. She shared how travel helps expand not only one's physical world but one's perspective on the world.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer and a best-selling author, was the keynote speaker. Considered one of the most powerful and influential people in the world, Sandberg is committed to inspiring women in their personal growth and leadership. She joined President Pamela Eibeck for a conversation in which she discussed how she got to where she is today, including tragedies in her life, and the concept of "post-traumatic growth": how trauma, change and failure help people grow. She also explored how women have made great strides in the world, but innate biases continue - for instance, seeing "bossy girls," rather than seeing girls who "exhibit executive leadership skills" - and encouraged attendees to recognize their own biases when working with others.

Launched in 2013 by a group of local business, education and civic leaders, the Advancing Women's Leadership (AWL) forum brings influential women leaders to Stockton to inspire and empower youth and adults. AWL is a movement to transform the community through the leadership development of women and girls.

AWL founding leaders include Dea Spanos-Berberian, A.G. Spanos Companies; Kristen Birtwhistle, Kaiser Permanente; the Honorable Connie Callahan, U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit; Kathleen Lagorio Janssen, Lagorio Family of Companies; and Cyril Seligman, EMMI Physician Services. Past keynote speakers include Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state of the United States and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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