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Westminster center explores leadership with community conversation

Students and faculty gather on the first floor of Florence J. Gillmor Hall during a reception after
the Entrepreneurial Leadership Community Conversation held Oct. 5. Director of Gore Giovale
Center for Innovative Leadership Lindsie Smith said, “[Leadership lives] across campus, across disciplines, from communication, to art, to public health, everyone is engaging in leadership.” Photo courtesy of Ella Cheminant. Photo description: An overhead shot shows people gathering and talking at the social event after the speaker event.

The Gore Giovale Center for Innovative Leadership collaborates with the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business to assemble panel discussions for students and the Westminster University community to attend. 

“The goal of the center is to connect students with community leaders to create hands-on learning opportunities and to foster meaningful conversations,” said Lindsie Smith, the director of the Gore Giovale Center for Innovative Leadership and an adjunct communication professor.

These conversations aren’t just for the students, according to Smith. The center wants to connect with the Westminster University community and have larger level conversations about leadership. 

“I really [try to] create broad partnerships across campus with different programs because there’s leadership conundrums we all want to dig into,” Smith said. 

The events are free, and students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to attend, according to the webpage.

Each conversation includes a “post-panel Connections Reception to encourage continued dialogue among attendees and grow professional relationships,” according to the Gore Giovale Center for Innovative Leadership webpage

“Leadership doesn’t live in one program,” Smith said. “It’s across campus, across disciplines, from communication, to art, to public health, everyone is engaging in leadership.”

A Community Conversation on Leadership titled “Community Conversations on Leadership: Entrepreneurial Leaders” took place on Oct. 5. 

Community Conversations as events

The panelists were Ashley Anderson, founder of performance journal and dance criticism blog loveDANCEmore; Ashley Kinney, founder and executive director of nonprofit organization Girl & Her Backpack; Hoang Nguyen, managing partner of Sapa Investments; and Lizzy Da-Silva Agnello, president of Onesta brands. 

The panelists shared their experiences in the entrepreneurial world. 

The Gore Giovale Center for Innovative Leadership will host its next event titled “Community Conversations on Leadership: Leadership and Burnout” on Nov. 9, according to the Westminster campus events webpage. 

This discussion will “explore leadership burnout and figure out at what point wellness and self-care fall short of addressing the deeper-rooted issues that contribute to burnout,” according to the webpage.

The conversation will be held in Florence J. Gillmor Hall from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with a Connections Reception to follow, according to the webpage. 

Advice from Community Leaders

Being a leader is about listening to your team and hearing different opinions and viewpoints, according to panelist Hoang Nguyen, who spoke at the Oct. 5 Community Conversation.

Nguyen is running for House District 23 in Utah and is the first minority woman to run for that seat, according to her campaign manager and Westminster University alum, Janessa Jimoh. 

“Leadership for me has always been collaborative,” Nguyen said. 

Nguyen also said she recommends finding a good mentor and role model, and not to put too much pressure on finding a career path right away. 

Being a leader involves listening and evaluating what everyone has to offer, according to the panelists. 

“You lead from the bottom up and you listen to what people say to you because everybody brings a different skill set to the table,” said Lizzy Da-Silva Agnello, a panelist also present at the Entrepreneurial Leaders Community Conversation.

The other panelists talked about their personal leadership styles and reflected on how they’ve grown in those positions.

“I started building deep relationships with each of my [teammates] and volunteers and creating more of a community,” said Ashley Kinney, founder and executive director of nonprofit organization Girl & Her Backpack. “Once our volunteers were able to see more as a person that makes mistakes, that made them feel more comfortable to show up as their full selves and do good work.” 

After the conversation, Lizzy Da-Silva Agnello said she encourages aspiring leaders to take charge.

“Be unafraid,” Agnello said. “This is the time if you’re ever going to try something.”

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Ella Cheminant majors in communication at Westminster University. She plays on the women’s lacrosse team, so when she isn’t busy doing assignments for class she’s practicing on the field and working on her skills. Some of her passions are staying active or resting.

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