Since 2014, 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 2023: Embracing Authenticity with April Hansen

april speaking

Mount Mary’s Voices of Leadership event on November 8 featured TEDx speaker April Hansen, a nationally renowned business thought leader. Hansen’s presentation, “Embracing Authenticity: A Catalyst for Personal and Professional Success," took place at Mount Mary University. In her keynote, Hansen discussed how to identify our personal and professional core values, as well as ways to overcome the obstacles that prevent us from actualizing these traits in our lives. 

To Hansen, this alignment of values is the key to each of us living authentically. In her presentation, she stressed the importance of continuous learning and mentorship, as well as embracing and learning from our failures. Above all, Hansen encouraged the audience to embrace curiosity and self-reflection in order to achieve personal and professional transformation. 

“Authenticity is the place where we get to live out our God-given talents,” she shared. “You have the power to embark on yourself, and it will be the most profound journey.” 

Over 250 people attended the in-person event held in Mount Mary University's Bergstrom Hall. This year, Voices of Leadership was also accessible virtually with over 50 participants attending online. 

"I was delighted with April's presentation. I would give it a score of 110%...Thank you for a fantastic event and to April for a fantastic keynote delivery." - 2023 Voices of Leadership attendee

In anticipation of Hansen's appearance, students from three spring 2023 and five fall 2023 courses participated in projects that aligned with course learning objectives and also incorporated the themes from her presentation. Their work was displayed during the event and shared on video. Learn more about the course projects below. 

After her keynote, Hansen moderated a panel that included seven other professional women representing businesses and organizations providing leadership to the community, the nation and the world. The panel included:

  • Hager Faisal Amer, university lecturer at the Royal University for Women
  • Corry Joe Biddle, '04, Vice President of Community Affairs, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
  • Yvonne Lumsden-Dill, former Executive Director, Women's Leadership Institute, Mount Mary University
  • Rachel Rollerr, President and CEO, Dohmen Company Foundation
  • Ann Tesmer, '94 & '01, Senior Vice President of Clinical OPerations at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin
  • May yer Thao, President and CEO, Hmong American Partnership and Hmong National Development, Inc.
  • Vanessa Vasquez, Director of the Burke Scholarship Programs at Mount Mary University

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, Fashion Design 1 students presented their conceptual design projects to Hansen. Students shared their garment designs that were somewhat autobiographical and inspired by their own uniqueness. Their authentic design concepts will be realized as garments in their spring Junior Design Studio course and will walk the runway at CREO 2024. After viewing the student projects and listening to the presentations Hansen shared, " I was blown away by the students’ projects! This was an AMAZING experience and I am beyond grateful!"

View TMJ4’s story about this event

See photos from the Voices of Leadership event

Watch a recording of the 2023 Voices of Leadership event

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:

International Collaboration

In the first collaboration of its kind, the Women’s Leadership Institute partnered with the Royal University for Women (RUW) in Bahrain on student projects associated with Voices of Leadership. RUW Faculty included the keynote themes of leadership and embracing authenticity in the following courses during fall of 2023:
Listening, Speaking and Critical Thinking – In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, students in this class who are learning English, designed and delivered an awareness video about breast cancer, demonstrating the significance of using authentic material to learn another language. Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics students prepared an infographic about authentic corporate social responsibility and participated in the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. Women Across Cultures – In this course, students examined laws and policies surrounding women’s issues globally, and more specifically in the Middle East, with respect to promoting more female engagement in education and the workplace. Additionally, students focused on the authenticity of their chosen policies (in the Middle East), while also focusing on embracing diversity.

RUW students were invited to watch Voices of Leadership in a live, webinar format.

Learn more about the Voices of Leadership - Royal University for Women student projects:

Watch the Breast Cancer Awareness ad created by students at the Royal University for Women:

More About April Hansen

More About Our Panelists

Thank You to Our Sponsors



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Linda Alvarado    Virginia Cornyn ’62    Nancy Cheski ’65