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Spotlight on: Simmons Leadership Conference for women

28 Aug 2020 - Fiona Raleigh

Offering a women-centered undergraduate education, Simmons University in Boston has 2 main goals: preparing the next generation of female leaders and furthering equality in the workplace.

For more than a century, Simmons has “integrated professional preparation, intellectual exploration, and community orientation” into its teaching, so it was a natural step for the University to sponsor the Simmons Leadership Conference when it was founded over 40 years ago.

What is the Simmons Leadership Conference?

The Simmons Leadership Conference is considered to be the premier women’s leadership conference in the world. While it’s an inspirational professional development event for women, people of all genders are welcome to attend.

The main conference is held annually in Boston, and an international conference was also held recently with the next venue set to be London.

2020 marks 41 consecutive years

of the Simmons Leadership Conference

100,000+ women have attended,

with 4,000 attendees each year for the last 10 years

95% of attendees

recommend the Conference to a friend

97% of attendees

would attend again

The aim of the Simmons Leadership Conference is to bring together professional women leaders, who want to better themselves, their workplaces, and the world. The event attracts over 4,000 middle- and senior-level women from companies and organizations across the USA and around the world.

What’s more, the conference is a non-profit fundraiser for graduate scholarships at Simmons University, so each attendee is supporting women’s education for years to come!

Inspiring speakers

The success and popularity of the Simmons Leadership Conference are no surprise given the outstanding speakers who give talks on subjects as varied as human rights, global economics, and defining power.

Over the years, the conference has hosted big names, including:

  • Madeline Albright, former US Secretary of State
  • Maya Angelou, poet and civil rights activist
  • Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, former US Secretary of State
  • Yue-Sai Kan, TV personality and entrepreneur
  • Queen Noor of Jordan
  • Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States of America
  • Jehan Sadat, former First Lady of Egypt
  • Zainab Salbi, women’s rights activist
  • Padmasree Warrior, Founder, CEO and President of Fable Group Inc.
  • Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and television producer

Each year, speakers at the conference are role models, thought leaders and prominent women, who tell their stories, discuss the experiences of women in the workplace, and motivate and inspire others to achieve their ambitions. The event is truly about women celebrating women.

Keynote Speakers at the 2020 Simmons Leadership Conference included tennis champion and activist Serena Williams, CEO and producer Pat Mitchell, and international economist and author Dambisa Moyo, PhD.

Going virtual in 2020

With the world looking a little different in 2020 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Simmons Leadership Conference was held online in April. Demonstrating its ever-present innovative thinking, Simmons University turned to one of the Leadership Conference’s sponsors, Cisco, to power its first virtual conference.

According to Dev Malladi, Cisco Vice President of APJC CX Centers and board member of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership:

“The Simmons and Cisco partnership is based on a shared goal: an inclusive future for all. So, when Simmons Conference needed to go virtual, our team was the natural bridge between the inspiration the conference delivers, and the possibility of beaming directly to attendees. It brings together all things I love and care about.” 

Highlights from the 2020 Simmons Leadership Conference

It’s safe to say that the transition to an online event was a huge success! Many of the virtual attendees said they enjoyed how intimate the talks felt — some saying it seemed as though the speakers were talking directly to them.

The chance to network wasn’t lost either, with social media rooms giving people the opportunity to connect with hundreds of others, far more than would be possible at a traditional in-person conference.

While the all-virtual Conference worked extremely well, the plan is to return to a face-to-face event next year if possible. So, if you’re interested in attending, you can save the date (March 23, 2021) and head to Boston for an inspiring experience that “motivates, educates, and empowers women leaders at every stage of their careers.”

Want to know more about Simmons University?

Learn more about how the women-centered undergraduate education at Simmons University will give you a head start on your path to becoming a successful leader.

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