Published 03/14/14

Viola Davis speaks at Women's Summit

"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. All of who you are. Even the mess, the failure," award-winning actress Viola Davis said during her noontime keynote. One guest tweeted: "Could have heard a pin drop with 1,000 women listening to Viola Davis talk about fear of failure. Inspiring!"

Viola Davis, Carley Roney among headliners at Women's Summit

SMITHFIELD, RI -- More than 1,000 women participated in the 17th Annual Bryant University Women’s Summit on Friday, March 14th.  The Women’s Summit is one of the most highly sought-after conferences in New England. Drawing women from all across the region, the Summit promotes professional, personal, and economic empowerment through education. Through innovative ideas, nationally known motivational keynote speakers, and practical success strategies presented in break-out sessions, the day-long educational conference provides women with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to excel and advance in today’s marketplace.

“For 17 years, the Women’s Summit at Bryant University has served as a resource for thousands of women from all walks of life to discover crucial tools, hear motivating messages, and experience networking opportunities to improve both their professional and personal lives,” said Kati Machtley, director.  “The Women’s Summit reflects Bryant’s ongoing commitment to the advancement of women.” 

Throughout its 150-year history, Bryant has had a tradition of educating women and preparing them to achieve success in their careers and personal lives. The Summit is aligned with the University's Vision 2020 strategic plan of anticipating the future in a changing world.

The Summit is resource for women "to discover crucial tools, hear motivating messages, and experience networking opportunities."

For 2014, the Women’s Summit featured three prominent keynote speakers who are pioneers in creating a new vision of opportunity for women to take charge as CEO of their life -- Viola Davis, award-winning actress; Carley Roney, co-founder, The Knot; and Carey Lohrenz, the first woman F-10 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy.

It also included a power plenary session by author and neurologist Marie Pasinski, M.D., and more than 20 workshops to choose from. The sessions represent trends in business, education, communication, entrepreneurship, and wellness, including workshop topics such as: What Leaders Need to Know to Grow Their Business; Partnership as a Success Strategy: Changing the World Through the Arts; Building Your Personal Power and Presence; Today’s Top-level Social Media Strategies; The Politics of Promotion: Get Ahead and Stay Ahead; and Empowering Women Through Sustainable Initiatives. Throughout the day and at the networking reception which follows immediately after, conference attendees had opportunities to make new connections and learn from each other.

Machtley has directed the Women’s Summit throughout its entire 17-year history.  She recognizes that over the years women’s lives have become more complicated.

“With 51 percent of all women in the workforce, the need for such a conference is growing even greater every year. Women continue to strive for balance between work and family, yet an aging population, shrinking workforce, and economic challenges combine to increase the pressures and demands they face.”

A recent Pew Research Center study shows that 40 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 are the primary breadwinner in their household. According to the latest Shriver Report, only 20 percent of American families have a stay-at-home woman and a male breadwinner. These compelling statistics make it imperative that both employers and institutions of higher learning provide opportunities for women to advance in the workplace.

The Women’s Summit is a resource for developing skills that women can put to work right away to empower themselves, advance their careers, enhance their quality of life, and better provide for their families.

Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. is a leading private university offering an innovative and uniquely integrated business and liberal arts education. Founded in 1863, Bryant University has approximately 3,500 graduate and undergraduate students from 35 states and 85 countries. Bryant University is recognized as a leader in international education and regularly receives top rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and Barron’s.