2008 Conference

The 8th annual Women’s Leadership Conference was titled "Challenging Limits, Reaching New Frontiers.” Diane Groomes, assistant chief of police of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, began the conference with a keynote address. Groomes discussed her career as one of few women in the law enforcement field, as well as the courage and strength of many women she met on the job. Groomes credited the support of her family and her colleagues, both male and female, in helping her accomplish her dream of a life in law enforcement.

The second speaker of the day was Barbara Hillary, the first African American woman and oldest woman, at age 75, to reach the North Pole. In her speech "Finding Your Own North Pole," Hillary, a former nurse, described her interest in exploration and her efforts to make her trip a reality. During her adventure, Hillary faced hungry polar bears and bitter arctic temperatures.

"My dream was to stand on top of the world and unfurl the red, white, and blue," said Hillary. "Believe me, it took perseverance."

The conference also included two professional development sessions. Margaret Kosmerl, adviser for LPL Financial, gave a presentation on finding one's "power years" upon retirement, by pursuing educational goals, hobbies, or a new career. In the other session, Courtney E. Martin, author of the book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, spoke about the ways young women can express themselves through writing and described her own journey to write and publish her book.

The conference ended with a panel discussion featuring broadcast journalist and Director of Public Relations for Saks Jandel Cynthia Steele Vance, Mount Vernon College (MVC) '79; Vice President of News and Washington Bureau Chief for Tribune Broadcasting Cynthia "Cissy" Baker, MVC '78; Dean of the George Washington University's (GW) Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Marguerite "Peg" Barratt, M. Phil. '78; and GW Student Association President Nicole Capp. The panelists talked about the hurdles they have overcome in their professional and personal lives and the ways they find the inspiration and courage to face challenges, including developing and maintaining a network of women.

2008 Archive Images

Barbara Hillary

Explorer Barbara Hillary

The after lunch speaker was Barbara Hillary, the first African American woman and oldest woman, at age 75, to reach the North Pole.

Panel members

2008 Panel Members

Cynthia Steele Vance, Director of Public Relations for Saks Jandel, and Peg Barratt,& Dean of the George Washington University's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, both participated in the 2008 panel discussion.

Rachelle Heller and President Knapp

Rachelle Heller and President Knapp

Rachelle Heller, organizer of the Women's Leadership Conference, and the George Washington University President Steven Knapp listen to the keynote speaker in 2008.

Peg Barratt

Dean Peg Barratt

Peg Barratt, former dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and current Professor of Applied Social Psychology at the George Washington University, took part in the panel discussion.

Cynthia Steele Vance

Journalist Cynthia Steele Vance

Cynthia Steele Vance, broadcast journalist and graduate of Mount Vernon College, participated in the panel discussion.

Nicole Capp

Panel Participant Nicole Capp

The panel discussion included the George Washington University Student Association President Nicole Capp.

Barbara Hillary gives an autograph

Barbara Hillary Gives an Autograph

Barbara Hillary, the first African-American woman to reach the North Pole, gives an autograph to a conference attendee.