About the Conference A letter from Anna Reichers, Conference Organizer Women Who Step Forward: Breaking Through Barriers to Women’s Leadership is a personal and professional development conference that was created to assist women who would like to improve their leadership skills and heighten the necessary self awareness that will allow them to succeed. This event originated from a grant proposal to put on a conference that would allow women to learn what is necessary to break through the barriers that are holding them back from achieving their full potential in life. This grant was awarded by the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership and is supported by the Saint Mary’s University MBA program, WOLF Means Business, the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the MN ACE network of Minnesota Women in Higher Education. My goal in creating this conference was to reach as many women as possible who are most in need of personal and professional development while working towards their leadership potential. Women in the Workforce Women are a crucial part of today’s workforce. Yet, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal published on April 11th, 2011: “Women are now graduating from college and graduate school in greater numbers than men and entering the workforce in equal numbers. But at each stage of advancement, men are at least twice as likely as women to move forward. Only 11 chief executives of fortune 500 companies are women, down from 15 in 2010... The disparity is increasingly becoming a competitive issue for the U.S. and its growth potential, according to economists, because many developing countries such as China and India are making rapid strides in how effectively they utilize women which is helping fuel their growth rate.” Women as Leaders As women, we are charged with a task of opening doors to the future. Our leadership roles in all aspects of life have a tremendous impact on the girls who watch us as we move through our lives and careers. We not only have the option, but the ethical obligation to become strong and confident role models. There are many different kinds of leaders. Whether we learn leadership skills for work or practice our self valuation for our home and community, there are many paths in life that allow us to lead. Women Who Step Forward are women who embrace the opportunity to reach their full potential and strive to support all women in the process. Stepping Forward On April 21st, both men and women are invited to learn about the barriers that prevent women from reaching desired leadership positions. As keynote speakers, Marilyn Tam and Julie Gilbert Newrai will discuss why it is essential for women to support each other in order to find success in the workplace. It is in collaboration that we move forward. I hope you will join me on April 21st by spreading this message to women who you feel would benefit the most. Warm Regards, Anna Riechers M.A.