The 2019 Women’s Leadership Institute took place on October 18–20 at Florida State University. Now in its seventh year, this annual event is a result of the collaboration between the W4FSU and the FSU Center for Leadership and Social Change. More than one hundred undergraduate women applied to participate, and after careful consideration, a cohort of 49 women took part in the three-day program. Seven volunteer facilitators comprised of selected FSU faculty, staff and other community members guided our students as they learned and explored their personal leadership identity, leadership capacity and their emotionally intelligent leadership model.
Each year, the WLI Planning Committee works diligently to update the curriculum, ensuring they provide the most current leadership theories and experiences crafted for the young women of today. The students and facilitators work together to increase participants’ healthy self-esteem and authenticity, as well as the role they play in developing relationships, citizenship and capitalizing on individual differences. Through both large- and small-group experiences, students recognize they need not question their capacity to lead, nor their ability to change the system, to affect the change they wish to see in their communities and the world.
Our goal for 2019 was to create a sustainable curriculum that would retain its integrity regardless of changes in key personnel and generate a community of women through this experience who would develop strong bonds, promote courageous conversations and produce fearless leaders in our communities. Sisters Katee Tully and Terri Cruz beautifully wove together the theme for the weekend with the introduction of their narrative photography collection, where participants were given the option to participate wearing the words “fear me” across their faces.
At the conclusion of this year’s program, the number of Florida State students impacted by the Women’s Leadership Institute since its inception in 2013 rose to 324.