Since 2013, Voices of Leadership has fostered conversations with women leaders who have broken ground in entrepreneurship, innovation, social change and leadership to inspire community partners and students. Leaders share their experiences, stories and best practices to help you see and pursue your own leadership potential. This annual event also enhances curriculum and the educational experiences for students through student projects that align with course learning objectives and also incorporate the themes from the keynote address.
Voices of Leadership 2022: Let's Talk About Mental Health with Diana Chao
In her opening remarks, nationally recognized mental health advocate Diana Chao said she'd never experienced a community more committed to understanding the focus of her mission.
Chao was the keynote speaker for the Nov. 2 Voices of Leadership, presented by Mount Mary’s Women’s Leadership Institute. She is the founder and executive director at Letters to Strangers, a global youth-run organization seeking to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment. Chao also travels nationally as a speaker for Active Minds, an organization with chapters in schools across the country.
Diana spoke about youth mental health and her own experience with bipolar disorder, often sharing her experiences through slam poetry. Over 200 people attended yesterday's event and gave Chao a standing ovation for her emotional and moving presentation.
In anticipation of Chao’s appearance, students from spring 2022 and fall 2022 courses participated in projects that align with course learning objectives and also incorporate the themes from her presentation. Their work was displayed during the event and shared on video.
- Dietetics: Students honed their leadership skills by creating a business plan and implementing a pop-up smoothie bar using healthy ingredients focused upon reducing stress and fueling the mind-body connection.
- English: Five classes embarked upon projects aligned self-expression and discovery with mental health and well-being. The culminating projects that reflected the theme of the event through poetry, literature, research and a new media podcast. Taking a cue from Chao’s Letters to Strangers movement, one class created artistic representations of these letters.
- Fashion Design: Fashion Design I students used color, silhouette, textile choice and design details to express a particular emotion in designing a garment or look. Concepts will be fully executed in spring and will be modeled in the 2023 CREO fashion show.
- Interior Architecture and Design: Students drafted the plans for a behavioral health clinic that emphasized a healing and safe environment.
“Voices of Leadership is about more than bringing a leader to campus to learn from her experiences,” said Women’s Leadership Institute Executive Director Keri Schroeder. “It’s also an opportunity for our faculty to utilize the themes of the keynote to enhance the curriculum and explore these topics with students in a way that is relevant to their disciplines.”
Panel moderator Amy Herbst, vice president for behavioral and mental health at Children’s Wisconsin, was also impressed with the campus-wide involvement for the program. Herbst was “thoroughly impressed with how you infused this subject all across the university,” she said. “I have never seen something this intentionally coordinated throughout a large system.”
Herbst moderated a panel that included five professionals representing local organizations doing critical work in our region in regard to mental and behavioral health. The panel included three alumnae.
Sponsors for the event also hold close ties to the university. Of the major corporate sponsors, three of these sponsorships were from businesses where our trustees work and the fourth sponsor, Charles E. Kubly Foundation is devoted to helping those who suffer from depression. This foundation was started in 2003 by alumna Billie Kubly as a reaction to her son dying by suicide.
Voices of Leadership sponsors spent the 30 minutes prior to the event networking with Mount Mary University students. Students from the Leadership Education And Development (LEAD) Program connected with sponsors. LEAD Program participants are current Mount Mary students who completed the Women's Leadership Institute's Summer Leadership Academy and attend monthly meetings to continue their leadership development and career readiness skills.
Immediately following the event, a small group of students had an opportunity to meet with Chao for an unscripted question and answer session following her presentation. The group was comprised of our lead advisor for Active Minds, Andrea Kurtz, adjunct faculty member Bonneka Seals with several undergraduate students. The discussion ranged from personal situations to policy questions and provided a rich experience for all.
During that time, a Community Resource Fair was held in Bergstrom Hall. Representatives from local community health and mental health organizations participated. It was a meaningful and inspiring day for Mount Mary and the Milwaukee community.
Campus Connections: Learn More About Our Student Projects
The Women's Leadership Institute's Voices of Leadership event is about more than bringing a leader to campus to learn from her experiences. It's also an opportunity for our faculty to utilize the themes of the keynote to enhance the curriculum and explore these different topics with students in a way that is relevant to their disciplines. Learn about the course collaborations that were a part of this year's Voices of Leadership event here:
About Our Speaker
Meet the Panel
About Active Minds Speakers
Thank You to Our Sponsors