Seventh Annual Women’s Empowerment Conference: Women Raising Our Voices

Photo of conference committee with keynote speaker

“Change the conversation around mental health. We need to speak up,” said Chamique Holdsclaw, keynote speaker for the Mercy College Seventh Annual Women’s Empowerment Conference titled “Women Raising Our Voices: Owning Our Power, Owning Our Minds, Owning Our Future.” 

Holdsclaw is a former professional basketball player for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Olympic athlete, All-American honors recipient and mental health advocate. She is author of the memoir, “Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot after Shot” and her struggles with mental illness are further brought to light in the documentary “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw.” 

The conference, held annually during Women’s History Month, took place on Friday, March 17 and brought together faculty, staff, students and members of the community. In addition to Holdsclaw's powerful keynote speech, the full-day program included an engaging panel discussion and interactive workshops led by Mercy College students, faculty and staff. 

Since its inception in 2015, the conference has been sponsored by the Mercy College Office of the President. Mercy’s President Tim Hall and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Eva Fernández gave welcoming remarks. To watch Fernández's remarks, click here.

The conference opened with a panel discussion - “The Future of Women’s Rights – Challenges and Opportunities” – featuring women in leadership roles at Mercy and in the surrounding community, including New York State Senator Shelley Mayer (NY-37); Kristen Bowes, Mercy College general counsel and Pelham town board member; Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, president of Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion (WCLA); and Licia Sandberg, founder and senior director of SAAVE - the Sexual Assault Abuse and Victims Empowerment program at Westchester Medical Center. Edie Magnus, executive director of media and innovation for Mercy College, moderated the panel. 

The below breakout workshops followed the panel discussion:   

  • Managing Conflict Through Mediation and Negotiation, led by Mercy College Professor Dorothy Balancio 
  • Confidence Bootcamp! The Art of Influential Body Language and Verbal Communication, led by Assistant Professor Carolyn Cullen (conference planning committee member) and Karen Reed, social worker and counselor at Mercy College (conference planning committee member) 
  • Hear our Voices: Experiences from Mercy’s Female Student Leaders, facilitated by Associate Professor Ilene Rothschild (conference planning committee member), Director of Academic Engagement, Equity and Inclusion Joi Sampson and Director of the Office of Accessibility Sara Venezian (conference planning committee member) 
  • Reproductive Rights: Past Present, Future, led by Assistant Professor Dana Horton (conference planning committee member), Assistant Professor Maureen MacLeod (conference planning committee member) and Assistant Professor Caitlin Wiesner (conference planning committee member) 

Mercy College’s 2023 Women’s Empowerment Conference community partners included the Bronx District Attorney’s Enough is Enough Program; Choice Matters; the League of Women Voters; SAAVE, the Sexual Assault Abuse and Victims Empowerment Program at Westchester Medical Center; the Youth Empowered (con)Sensuality (YES) Program at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center; the Urban League of Westchester County; and the Westchester County Office for Women.  

The conference was organized by planning committee chair Abby Hirsch, lecturer for the Mercy College School Counseling Program. The conference planning committee members included the following Mercy College faculty and staff:  

  • Carolyn Cullen, program director and assistant professor, mental health counseling 
  • Alexandra Enderle, assistant to the dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences  
  • Jacqueline Fisher, assistant professor, psychology  
  • Jodi Epstein Hoellger, associate director, college communications 
  • Dana Horton, assistant professor, English 
  • Diana Juettner, professor, legal studies 
  • Maureen MacLeod, program director and assistant professor, history department 
  • Lisa Mills-Campbell, director, community programs and events 
  • Marla Moulton, coordinator, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences 
  • Colleen Powers, director of health and wellness programs 
  • Karen Reed, social worker and counselor 
  • Ilene Rothschild, associate professor, special education 
  • Sabrina Timperman, associate professor, veterinary technology 
  • Sara Venezian,  director, office of accessibility 
  • Wendi Vescio, associate dean for administration, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences 
  • Raynell Webb, HEOP specialist 
  • Caitlin Wiesner, assistant professor, history

To watch the keynote speech made by Chamique Holdsclaw, please click here

To watch the remarks made by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Eva Fernández, please click here