Published 12/08/16

Contact: Cecilia Cooper | Director of Public Relations | 401-232-6932

Women's Summit® to celebrate 20 years of inspiration, empowerment, and advancement

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – On Friday, March 17, 2017 Bryant University’s Women’s Summit® will celebrate "20 Years of Inspiring, Empowering, and Advancing Women!" The event will welcome three powerful keynote speakers known for excellence in their professions and for their commitment to helping women achieve their potential. In order of appearance, they are: Leadership expert and former Navy Commander Mary Kelly, Nobel Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee, and Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis.

“The Women’s Summit® is one of the many ways Bryant continues its long tradition and commitment to educating women.” 

One of the most popular conferences held in New England, the Women’s Summit® has welcomed a sold-out crowd every year. More than 1,000 women and men are expected to attend.

When Women’s Summit® founding director Kati Machtley, a former nursing educator, came to Bryant in 1996, she was impressed that the institution has always recognized the importance of educating women. With her background in higher education and her experience educating and mentoring women, she enlisted some like-minded colleagues to create the first Women’s Summit®, which was held in 1997. Kati attributes the success of the event 20 years later to perseverance and to her dedicated Bryant University team, noting that her husband, Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley, is one of the event’s strongest advocates. 

“The Women’s Summit® is one of the many ways Bryant continues its long tradition and commitment to educating women,” said Kati. “It is rewarding to see so many become empowered to succeed professionally, personally, and financially, while benefitting from unique networking opportunities.”

Over the years, the Women’s Summit® has welcomed prominent speakers who have helped thousands to discover and achieve their potential. Notable keynotes include Viola Davis, Arianna Huffington, Jane Pauley, Geraldine Ferraro, Mika Brzezinski, Suze Orman, and Sherron Watkins.

More about the keynote speakers

The 20th Women’s Summit® again offers a high-impact slate of speakers, each with an inspiring message of excellence and empowerment.

Kicking things off in the morning will be Mary Kelly, an internationally renowned economist, author and expert in leadership, productivity, communication, and profit growth.  Kelly served 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy and is currently on the faculty at the Air Force Academy.

Leymah Gbowee, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Liberian peace activist, and women’s rights advocate will be the luncheon speaker. Her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, tells the story of how Christian and Muslim women pulled together to help end Liberia’s civil war.

Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis is a tireless advocate of women and girls. Her work as founder and chairwoman of the nonprofit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has helped reduce stereotypes and create more diverse female characters in entertainment for children 11 and under. Davis will be the closing keynote for the Summit.

Power plenary session, workshops, and networking

The Women’s Summit® will also include a power plenary session by author, health, weight loss, fitness and wellness expert Debi Silber, founder, president, and CEO of Lifestyle Fitness, Inc. In addition, participants will choose from 23 workshops on a variety of topics including leadership, diversity, cybersecurity, business, education, communication, productivity, financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, and wellness.

Throughout the day and at the networking reception, which follows the closing keynote speaker, Women’s Summit® attendees will have opportunities to interact and learn from each other.

Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., is a leading private university offering an innovative and uniquely integrated business and liberal arts education. The University's 3,700 undergraduate and postgraduate students study in an intensive and immersive learning environment that has been purpose-built for high achievement. Bryant’s groundbreaking academic programs have been nationally recognized by organizations including the Davis Educational Foundation and Hanover Research. Founded in 1863, Bryant is recognized as a leader in international education and regularly receives top rankings from U.S. News and World Report, College Factual/U.S.A. Today, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and Barron’s.