Mar 1, 2024

Leadership Conference Empowers, Educates, Inspires

Passionate portrays Theresa Cserep when she discusses the University of West Florida’s 10th Annual Women in Leadership Conference that will draw hundreds of women — and men — March 14 to be empowered, educated, and inspired by distinguished speakers.

Being impassioned about major issues facing women today sets the tone for conference organizers and contributors, as well as herself, Cserep said.

“I have three teenage daughters watching me,” said Cserep, coordinator for UWF’s Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz Center for Leadership.

“Getting these great thought leaders together is an opportunity for women to slow down, take a moment for themselves, learn how to do better and become role models”.

She said she truly believes every interaction has something beneficial to teach us.

Currently completing her Public Leadership Credential at Harvard Kennedy School, Cserep is responsible for increasing value-added visibility and brand awareness of the conference, the Executive Mentor Program and the center’s flagship leadership programs.

Presented by Kia Autosport, the conference is the Executive Mentor Program’s “biggest and best program yet,” drawing about 900 attendees last year, virtually and in-person, Cserep said.

This year’s theme is “Resiliency Through Purpose.”

Cserep encourages all to attend and:

Learn how to drive your career through thoughtful and effective leadership.

Learn how communication skills can be a pathway to career success.

Gain an understanding of some of the issues that women face in various career paths, especially ones where women are underrepresented or have difficulty obtaining leadership positions.

Understand how important it is to align your personal values with your everyday leadership behaviors.

Strengthen your network with successful women including UWF alumnae and community leaders.

Cserep stresses the conference can help women of all ages in different careers, with different levels of experience, and at different stages of life.

“Without a doubt,” she said. “The conference is designed to speak to a wide array of participants and enhance methods of achievement. For some attendees, it may be bringing awareness to a topic, while for others, it may be discussing ways to continue on their path to personal and organizational excellence.”

It’s essential for the conference to feature speakers with diverse experiences who can share navigating challenges that the audience really wants to discuss, Cserep added.

“The first thing I did when I took on this position was to begin researching why women might not want to attend a conference for women,” she said. “As a working mother of three and a student, I truly understand that everything in life has an opportunity cost.

“The research I did and conversations I had proved that the 2024 Women in Leadership Conference had to showcase women who were willing to tell their authentic moral narratives, provide networking opportunities and let women walk away with new tools in their toolbox.”

Speakers/panelists of the 2024 Women in Leadership Conference include Dr. Martha Saunders, welcome; Capt. Tim Kinsella, welcome; Laura Hussey, in-person emcee; Mel McCrae, virtual emcee; Emily Ley, keynote; Pamela Barnum, keynote; Leah Kinsella; Dannon Byrd; Stephanie Knight; Jacey Cosentino; Katie Garrett; Tia Robbins; Jessica Lee; Erik Stolhanske; Jen Grove; Alicia Tappan; Holly Benson; Robin Reshard; Nicole Stacey and Tris Weeks.

The event is also tailored for newcomers.

“The conference is designed to be a high-value event where experiences can be shared, networks can be broadened, and women can walk away with an increased understanding of both industry and organization processes,” Cserep said.

She invites organizations that are dedicated to making progress in addressing gender inequality to send both women and men to the conference.

“Everyone can benefit from great conversations about resilience and being adaptive, especially when it comes to organizational effectiveness,” Cserep said. “Sending other leaders, human resources managers and those that are committed to holding up the mirror is a great way to continue the conversation with all of your employees. It turns out, research shows you will probably turn some higher profits once the boardroom is diversified as well!”

Conference fan and repeat attendee Hong Potomski, healthcare market leader at Florida Blue, encourages women to attend the conference.

 “What I love about this conference is that I leave with a few great nuggets of wisdom each time,” Potomski said. “My favorite reminder is to remember to take care of yourself. Our career is a marathon, not a sprint. Take time to enjoy the journey. That includes the ups and downs!”

Cserep and Potomski hope to see you there.

What: University of West Florida’s 10th Annual Women in Leadership Conference, presented by Kia Autosport

Where: UWF’s Conference Center, Building 22, 11000 University Pkwy., Pensacola

When: Check-in from 8 to 9 a.m., conference from

9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, March 14

Cost: In-person tickets are $150; virtual tickets, $75. Refreshments and lunch included.

More info: 850-474-3239;