At the end of October, twelve Sweet Briar students attended the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges‘ 2021 Women’s Leadership Development Summit in Glen Allen, Va. They were one of the largest groups of students from any one school. After all, the purpose of the summit is at the heart of what Sweet Briar College does: forge women leaders.
Hannah Epstein ’22 was one of those attendees. She is the SGA president, a lead orientation leader, secretary of the Bum Chums and historian for the Earphones club. “The summit was a great opportunity to connect with different professionals and fellow undergraduate students from different institutions,” said Hannah. “The advice we got will leave an everlasting impression on myself, from leading through conflict, being bold and being mindful both personally and professionally. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the summit, and I hope to find ways to bring the lessons I learned back to our community.”
May-Beth Johnson, chief operations officer at VFIC, was thrilled by the enthusiastic turn-out and offered her thoughtful comments on the event:
“Sweet Briar College has a long and successful history of not only developing the intellectual capacity of women but also cultivating their leadership potential. So it was with great enthusiasm that twelve of their students participated in the summit.
“The goal of the summit was to provide female undergraduates from VFIC colleges and universities with a forum to examine the challenges women face today as they work to achieve leadership roles in both professional and personal ventures. Those challenges are daunting. Writing in Forbes in 2018, KPMG CEO Lynne Doughtie reported that ‘women today account for only 5.2 percent of the CEOs of S&P 500 companies and slightly more than 21 percent of their board seats.’ Today, that figure is 6 percent.
“More than sixty women from other VFIC schools joined Sweet Briar students to participate in a variety of forums, discussions and workshops led by trailblazing women of all ages and professions on topics such as the art of leading, career empowerment, leading through conflict and mindfulness.
“Wherever their journeys take them, Sweet Briar students will remember the skills they learned during the VFIC’s leadership summit, and one day they will have the opportunity to serve on a panel of trailblazing women, sharing their experiences and offering encouragement to a new generation.”