2023 Women's Leadership Summit (WLS)

2023 Women's Leadership Summit (WLS)

Saunders College of Business is pleased to host the 3rd Annual Women's Leadership Summit (WLS)

The WLS is an RIT Women’s Leadership Summit held in the Student Alumni Union and Campus Center hosted by the Leadership Academy @ Saunders. Its mission is to inspire, connect, and educate women & allies to become tomorrow’s future leaders. We focus on driving leadership excellence in all industries from arts, and sciences, to technology.

This program is open to all eligible individuals regardless of sex, gender, gender identity, race, color, and/or national origin.

WLS 2023: Be the Future YOU Want

Date: February 18, 2023 
Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: Student Alumni Union, Rochester Institute of Technology

Sponsorship Opportunities

Saunders College of Business is excited to celebrate its first Women's Leadership Weekend! Join us on Friday, February 17, 2023, for the 13th annual Power Your Potential half-day leadership conference geared toward working professionals. 

Registration is now closed. 

WLS Agenda

Time Details
9-10 a.m. Registration and Breakfast are Available
10-11 a.m. Keynote Speaker - JoAnne Ryan
11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Ted Talks, Seminars, and Workshops
12:30-1:15 p.m. Lunch
1:15-1:45 p.m. Networking Activity 
2-3 p.m. RIT Alumnae Leadership Panel
3:15-4:30 p.m.  Simone Center Business Challenge
4:30-5 p.m. Wrap Up

Speakers & Panelists

JoAnne Ryan Headshot

Keynote Speaker

JoAnne Ryan MS '04 (health systems administration)
President & CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities

JoAnne has held leadership positions in Healthcare, Nonprofit and as a Corporate Executive with a proven track record of impacting multi-metric performance in both corporate and nonprofit sector across multiple and diverse service venues. She has effectively initiated and managed collaborative community partnerships across educational, governmental, judicial and community sectors as well. As a former CEO of a local nonprofit, she and her team were able to expand agency footprint from regional, to include all Upstate New York. JoAnne is recognized for her expertise in strategy, operations, and community engagement for corporate, nonprofit and community sectors and has acted as an advisor on policy development and standards of performance.

Chitra Sivanandam '98 (imaging science) - Chief Technology Officer at Rohirrim

Rebecca Brubaker '93 (newspaper operations management) - Vice President of Manufacturing | Operations at Power Drives Inc.

Elizabeth Del Valle '10 (international business) - Global Creator Marketing at YouTube

Danielle Walters '12 (electrical engineering) - Principle Electronic Engineer at MKS Instruments

Elizabeth Kiehner '22 (EMBA) - Chief Growth Officer at Nortal 

Ebony Watson '04 (applied computer technology) - Software Engineering Project Manager at Apple

Janine Susz '92 (graphic design) - Instructor of Graphic Design at Bryant & Stratton College 

Krista Vardabash '12 (EMBA)- Business Development Manager, Executive Education at RIT Saunders College of Business

Karen Putz - 16X Author, International Speaker, Midlife (and Beyond) Life Coach

Crystal Gallagher '20 (EMBA) - Corporate Manager of Organizational Development at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

Angelica Pilato '64 (food administration) - Public Speaker and Author of Angel's Truck Stop (a Memoir) A Woman's Love, Laughter, and Loss during the Vietnam War

Kristen Jones Seymour '05 (biotechnology)

Jennifer Gress - Professional Speaker. Mindfulness, Meditation & Yoga Teacher. Former CPA. Optimist.

Jean Ellefson '98 (applied statistics) - Assistant Professor Analytics, Jon and Mary Tabor Chair in Family Business and Entrepreneurship at Alfred University

Melissa Scrimo '90 (biotechnology) - President and Founder at Applied Intelligence Consulting 


Women's Leadership Summit will be held in the Student Alumni Union and Campus Center, on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology.


Please park in Parking Lot D, with overflow parking available in Lot N. 

Download Campus Maps: Interactive Campus Map.


RIT’s campus is conveniently located five miles from the Greater Rochester International Airport and the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90).

From the Airport
Turn right onto Brooks Avenue, then right onto Interstate 390 South. From 390, take the Scottsville Road exit and turn right. Drive for approximately three miles, then turn left onto Jefferson Road. Travel east for approximately one-half mile to the campus.

From Interstate 90
Take exit 46 and proceed north on Interstate 390 to exit 13 (Hylan Drive). Turn left on Hylan and continue north to Jefferson Road. Turn left on Jefferson and proceed west for approximately two miles to the campus.

Address for GPS
Parking Lot D, Reynolds Dr, Rochester, NY 14623

Leadership Sponsor

First American Equipment Finance

First American Equipment Finance


Supporting Sponsor

Past Events

The Leadership Academy at Saunders was pleased to host the 2nd annual Women's Leadership Summit, as they expanded their opportunities of offering interactive workshops, professional development seminars, RIT TED Talks, BE STEAM Challenge, and our most anticipated C-Suite Panel. The conference included a keynote presentation from RIT alumna Laurie E. Axelrod BS '86, co-founder and CEO of Wheelhouse Group Inc.

C-Suite Panelists

  • Erin Crowley-Ellis '08 (mechanical engineering) – Co-Founder and Managing Director of ATVentureCenter
  • Pooja Kapoor '04 (information technology)  - Managing Director of Google’s Corporate Strategy team
  • Rosa Lee Timm '00 (social work) – biracial deaf queer innovation artist known mostly for her YouTube ASL music videos, her work as a solo performer of The Rosa Lee Show, and as a lead actress in ASL Films’ feature film, Versa Effect
  • Sophie Schillaci '10 (advertising and public relations) –  seasoned entertainment journalist 
  • Sheri Watkins '04 (information technology) - transformational nonprofit and small business leader

TED Talks:

  • Anjeanette Agro '92 (graphic design) - Risk, Reward, and Roller Derby
  • Dawn Aprile '14 - Small Business Leadership: Opportunities to Lead Change within the Small Business Environment
  • Kimberlie Barrett '81 (marketing) - Path to Leadership & Success
  • Jessica Carnovale, RIT Saunders College of Business Adjunct Faculty - Women in Supply Chain Management (WiSCM)
  • Lindsay Connelly '11 (marketing), '18 (MBA) - "The First 3 Years" - The Top Digital Strategies and Key People to Build your Service Business. 
  • Jane Elliot '88 (accounting) - Actively Managing your Career through the Process of Goal Setting
  • Taylor Evans '15 (biomedical sciences) - How My Style Blog Made Me a Better Scientis
  • Crystal Gallagher '20 (MBA) - Change Management: How to Effectively Manage the People Side of Change and How to Best Communicate Change in the Workplace
  • Celia Garland '14 (glass and glass sculpture) - Leading through Storytelling - Parallel Passions & the Power of Public Speaking
  • Rachael Gootnick '09 - Building your Personal Brand
  • Kimberly Hill '09 (communication), MS '15 (media technology) - When Introverts and Extroverts Unite: A Story of Combined Leadership Growth
  • Tara M. LoCastro '96 (environmental management), '98 (MBA) - The Value of Authenticity and Values-Based Leadership
  • Christina Pierce '92 (hotel management), '96 (mechanical engineering), ME '11 (engineering management)  - Recruiting your own Personal Board of Directors
  • Mona Samaan-Ockenden '94 (civil engineering) - Joy of an Entrepreneur: Knowing when it's Time to Jump and Fly and Becoming Comfortable, Being Uncomfortable
  • Susan Stewart '98 (civil engineering technology) - Leadership Begins with You
  • Peggy Tirrell MS '95 (Career & Human Resource Development) - Powerlifting as Leadership
  • Lorena Valenzuela MS '12 (innovation management) - Turning Flames into Fuel

Fireside Chat:

  • Arina Kotlyarskaya '06 (graphic media) and Kara Burns - Leading Outside of your Expertise



  • Lindsay Connelly '11 (marketing, '18 (MBA), Michele Judkins '20 (new media marketing), and Elyse Mee '11 (new media marketing) - Workshop Title Marketing Essentials for Launching Your Business
  • Melissa Scrimo '90 - Create Your Own Destiny by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur

View the 2022 photo gallery