On March 12, more than 100 female leaders gathered in the lower level café of the Norris Healthcare Consultation Center for the eighth annual Los Angeles Women in Leadership Symposium. Organized by the California Diversity Council, the theme for the 2019 event was “Center Stage: Standing Out & Speaking Up.”

“This is a wonderful day for women leaders in California,” said Lisa Joins, executive administrator of human resources for Keck Medicine of USC. “It’s 2019 and women are making significant strides in business and in their communities. This event offers attendees an opportunity to observe, learn, network and hear different perspectives from a diverse mix of female executives.”

The first Women in Leadership Symposium took place in 2004 at the National Diversity Council’s headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. Since then, the event has grown in scale and influence, with over 45 such symposiums held in 9 countries and 18 states.

“We are proud to partner with our generous host, Keck Medicine of USC, for this event,” said Naomi Moran, Southern California coordinator for the National Diversity Council. “This symposium is so important to the Los Angeles community as it brings professional women, students and business executives in partnership and commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Acting as moderator for the event, Joins welcomed six female executives onstage to discuss key strategies for women in leadership roles. One of the panelists, Laurie Johnson, executive administrator, ambulatory services for Keck Medicine of USC, focused on the necessity of mentorship between women in order to thrive within complex work environments.

“Center Stage: Standing Up and Speaking Out, is about leading and speaking from your heart while embracing all parts of who you are as a woman,” Johnson said. “As women in leadership, we have a responsibility to lift each other up, provide mentorship and support one another in order to navigate complicated workplaces. Remember, you are your sister’s keeper.”

During the next two hours, panelists tackled a wide-range of topics, such as leveraging intersectionality in office environments, defining success and how it relates to the executive level, building up women in the workplace, how to ask for a raise and overcoming imposter syndrome.

Besides a panel discussion, the event featured several question-and-answer sessions where audience members were able to probe further into topics and relate their own personal stories of professional success and adversity.

As the proceedings drew to a close, both panelists and audience members agreed that forming a balanced alliance between female leaders, and respecting the voice and perspectives of one another, was essential for professional growth.

“Women’s voices are critical to ensuring balanced conversations and well-informed decisions,” said Theresa Murphy, RN, MSHA, chief nursing officer of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. “Gatherings such as this provide a setting where women’s views can be shared and highlighted on a larger stage.”

— Matthew Vasiliauskas