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Welcome to the Seventh Annual Women in Leadership Conference

A brief word from the Women in Leadership Conference Chair.

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Dr. Sherry Hartnett
Dr. Sherry Hartnett

Welcome to the Seventh Annual Women in Leadership—Designing Your Future Conference.

Our motivation for the annual Women in Leadership Conference is to educate the next generation of business leaders who will shape the destiny of Northwest Florida and the state. This conference, which has become a go-to event for hundreds of women, resonates with both very seasoned women and those just beginning their careers. The conference showcases remarkable women through inspiring speeches and panels dedicated to both personal inspiration and practical application.

I want to give you an idea of what you can expect at the conference this year and what we hope to achieve. We’ll hear from Deshauna Barber, who has years of experience in two very male-dominated industries -- the STEM industry and the U.S. military. Both have shown her the importance of representation and the need to empower women to break through the glass ceilings of industries that lack a diverse footprint. She’s an inspiring woman. In her "I Don't Like Being Told Its A Man's World" speech, she will emphasize the importance of having a woman's voice included in every space, every room and, most importantly, every decision.

Next, we will hear from a panel of accomplished women executives from large local companies as they share their stories about Understanding Executive Presence and Your Personal Brand. You’ll listen to them talk about things, such as the importance of mentorship and paying it forward, and the significance of culture and brand personally and professionally. Then, attendees will hear from some of the foremost leaders in the Pensacola area who manage meaningful local charitable organizations. They will share advice about deciding between for-profit and not-for-profit careers. Listening to these women will give you an opportunity for a bird’s eye view of a day in the life of a not-forprofit executive director and bring you perspective on the pros and cons of working for a nonprofit agency.

Finally, we’ll hear from Dr. Judy Bense. As UWF’s first female president, she raised the university’s profile, oversaw the construction of modern academic and residence halls, increased enrollment, and started the football program. Go Argos! As a role-model, she continues to inspire women to achieve both academically and professionally and was recently inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame. She is the first woman from Northwest Florida to receive this honor. The title of her speech says it all, “Grit and Grace.”

As an exciting new twist, the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council, which implements the International Visitor Leadership Program for the U.S. Department of State, is bringing women who are international political and social leaders from eight countries to our conference. I am told these visitors are coming to Pensacola specifically due to our conference and its reputation. Our local attendees, while enjoying the event, will also be citizen diplomats!

All of our conference speakers, leaders in their fields, have graciously agreed to share their wisdom and experience with us, and for this, we are thankful. I’d like to recognize Charlene Holmes, Selena Williams, Monique Grecco, and UWF student volunteers for their assistance in coordinating this event. And, I thank you for attending our conference on your leadership journey. Stay engaged and help us shape the future of Northwest Florida.

Warm regards,

Dr. Sherry Hartnett

Founding Chair, Women in Leadership Conference

Founding Director, Executive Mentor Program


We look forward to your tweets during the conference at:


"I love that there is an event that supports the development of female leadership in Pensacola by spotlighting these women in the community."

Conference attendee