Cal U hosts Women in Leadership Conference

The digital display on Cal Us Convcation Center welcomes guests to the Women in Leadership Conference, Nov. 4, 2021.

Sarah Seader

The digital display on Cal U’s Convcation Center welcome’s guests to the Women in Leadership Conference, Nov. 4, 2021.

Sarah Seader, Staff Writer

On November 4, the Women in Leadership Conference presented by State Representative Bud Cook from Washington/Fayette Counties was held in the Cal U Convocation Center. The event included several panels featuring Pennsylvania State Legislators, various industries, and women in the trades. The event had one main theme: women belong in all fields of the workforce and continue to prove that every day.

The Keynote Speaker was State Representative Donna Oberlander from Armstrong/Clarion/Forest Counties. The first panel of speakers included State Representatives Valerie Gaydos from Allegheny County and Carrie Lewis DelRosso from Allegheny/Westmoreland Counties. State Rep. Oberlander made history in Pennsylvania as only the second woman to be elected as the Majority Whip in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 

 “You don’t just walk into anything, and I’ve fought tooth and nail every step of the way,”  State Rep. Oberlander said.

The second panel of speakers was comprised of women in various industries including Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, Interim President of the California University of Pennsylvania as well as Interim President of Edinboro University and President of Clarion University; Carmelle Nickens, Founder of the Rural Arts Collaborative; Kristie Salzman, Washington County Sheriff Deputy; and Tina Walker, Deputy Superintendent at Centralized Services. One panelist, Kristie Salzman, a Washington County Sheriff Deputy who is also a K9 Officer, stated, “let it light that fire.” Salzman stressed the importance of holding on to what you care about because, in the end, it will make you happy as well. Salzman also mentioned, “Do great things from that negative”. She stressed that regardless of how many people put you down, you can use it as motivation to propel and uplift you to where you need to be. 

The third panel of speakers included women in the trades. Heaven Caldwell, CDL Instructor; Claire Cawley, Organizer for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; Michelle Herron, Chief Financial Officer for the Mon River Industrial Group; and Jennifer Orr, Owner of Harmony Acres Dairy. The event highlighted Carol Ann Stotka, the guest of honor, who worked for years in the coal mine. From the 1970s until now, she has been honored for her dedication to her career. Stotka was one of the first female coal miners and along with her friends, helped shape a more diverse nation.

California Area School students as well as California University of Pennsylvania students, faculty, and staff attended the Women in Leadership conference. The Conference promoted uplifting one’s voice regardless of who you are and stressed the importance of sticking with what you love because no one else’s opinion of your job or career matters, besides your own. All of the panelists encouraged attendees to do what is right and follow their hearts to complete their mission. The Conference concluded with State Representative Bud Cook stating, “Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it a good one. Make it yours. Do what you want to do and what you want to learn.”