June 27, 2022

MI-ACE Event Inspires SC Leaders

ACE Women's Network

Theme of conference was “Women Leading With Resilience In Challenging Times”

Schoolcraft College was well-represented at the 2022 Michigan American Council on Education Women’s Network Conference (MI-ACE) of the ACE Women’s Network. Held June 13-14 at the Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi, this year’s theme of the annual conference was “Women Leading With Resilience In Challenging Times.”

The MI-ACE Women’s Network was formed in 1978 and is the professional network for Michigan women in higher education.

Attending from Schoolcraft College were:

  • Dr. Jodie Beckley, Director, Personal and Professional Learning
  • Joi Durant, Associate, Student Financial Services
  • Tammy Duval, Lab Technician
  • Melissa Gury, Director of Laboratory Sciences
  • Dr. Michele Kelly, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • TaQuilla Kusero, Director of Equity and Engagement
  • Trennis D. Sweatt, Personal and Professional Learning Programming Coordinator
  • Lori Timmis, Dean of Distance Learning
  • Rena Yuzon, Course Manager, Distance Learning

Dr. Beckley co-presented “Women Leaders of Color in Community Colleges: New Research, Same Challenges” with CharMaine Hines, Ed.D., Vice Chancellor, Academic Accountability and Policy, Wayne County Community College District.

Here are some reactions to the conference from Schoolcraft College attendees:

From Joi Durant, Associate, Student Financial Services:

I was introduced to MI-ACE in 2021 after attending their WOCC (Women of Color Collaborative) and women’s equal pay day workshops. I became involved with the Schoolcraft division of MI-ACE this year and it has been such an impactful experience. This year’s conference focused on defining resilience and finding ways to put the ‘resilience perspective’ into practice. During the two-day conference I was able to attend several workshops, some of which included:

  • Enhancing your Institutional committee involvement
  • (Re) Imagining the Superwoman
  • Women Leaders of Color in Community College: New Research, Same Challenges
  • Women Leading with Resilience during Challenging Times Keynote Address

I found each session to be informative, which led to me feeling excited, empowered and equipped to bring this information back to campus and incorporate this information in conversations that contribute to impacting effective change. It also provided the opportunity to meet and collaborate with colleagues here at the college that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to work with. I would encourage any woman employed in higher education to consider joining the MI-ACE Network as it provides networking support and training enhance the experience of women in higher education.

From Melissa Gury, Director of Laboratory Sciences:

One of my favorite sessions was “Mental Health Strategies for a More Resilient You” presented by Dr. Nikita Murry, Director of Diversity Education at Central Michigan University. She spoke about what it means to be resilient, and highlighted five ‘Gs’ to make sure to focus on in our lives: Gratitude, Goal Reflection, Girlhood, Goodness, and Gracefulness. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend, and am excited to continue working with the MI-ACE Women’s Network to empower women!

From TaQuilla Kusero, Director of Equity and Engagement:

One valuable practice discussed during the “Mental Health Strategies for a More Resilient You” session, led by Dr. Nikita Murry, Director of Diversity Education at Central Michigan University, was to ask yourself five questions before taking on a new role or opportunity.

  1. Does the opportunity align with your goals?
  2. Am I the right person?
  3. Is this a professional challenge?
  4. Do you see professional growth opportunity?
  5. Will the workload be manageable?

If you can answer yes to these questions, and the role or opportunity is something that fits into your mission, vision and goals, you will be in a better position to deal with more challenging times when they arise. I plan to implement this in the future.

From Trennis D. Sweatt, Personal and Professional Learning Programming Coordinator:

Attending the MI-ACE conference and “The Importance of Wellness and Belonging in the Workplace” session as well as the “Women Leaders of Color in Community Colleges: New Research, Same Challenges” session brought about the following insights for me:

First, as women of color working in higher education, it is essential to know that we belong and that we have the equal opportunity to be valued as a woman and as a leader in our organization. And second, Dr. Hines’ and Dr. Beckley’s research on Women of Color in Mid-Level Administration re-ignited my passion to pursue my Ph.D. in higher education. Our gender and ethnicity should not continue to be a barrier on our path to a leadership role in higher education.

From Lori Timmis, Dean of Distance Learning:

Tuesday’s keynote session with Dr. Stephanie Bulgur, incoming President at Lane CC (Eugene, Oregon), prompted three key takeaways:

  1. Lead from your values
  2. Address the moment with your vision
  3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

In the spirit of resilience, as part of the conference theme, Dr. Bulgur affirmed that “comfort and growth do not co-exist.” Likewise, in times of challenge, we have a duty to serve – our students, communities, and the organization.

The presidents’ panel encouraged strategic risk taking, reimagining services, evaluating and enacting change propositions, sharing communications and camaraderie, setting stretch goals to build stamina, developing teams, empowering people, and elevating mentorship. The presidents reminded us that we all serve as educators in different ways with a same end goal.

The afternoon’s plenary session – Do Not Take It for Granted. Focus on International Women’s Resilience – with Manizha Wafeq, President and Co-Founder of the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry, was a powerful testimony of leadership, courage, and determination in establishing the first women’s chamber in Afghanistan. As the session title implies, women leaders and professionals can and do serve in valuable roles that make a difference.

The fishbowl conversations on leadership engaged session participants to share your voice, collaborate and connect with others, and balance work and other commitments with stress-relieving channels (the good reminder of “me” time).

A final takeaway includes the resources available through the MI-ACE Women’s Network of professional development workshops, committee engagement, and networking events to advance women leaders in higher education.

I will aim, as a leader and looking within, to promote the wisdom shared from the collective session takeaways – encourage dialogue, support engagement and participation, seek growth opportunities, serve assuredly and compassionately, and much more.

From Rena Yuzon, Course Manager, Distance Learning:

This was my first time at the MI-ACE Women’s Network Conference. It was a great experience where I got to meet women from all over the state. One of the best seminars I attended had to do with enrollment challenges for institutions of higher education. I learned about the many factors impacting enrollment in higher education today and will take that back with me in my work scheduling semester offerings.

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