Simmons Leadership Conference Celebrates "Women of Influence"

Speakers Include Actress Viola Davis, Financial Powerhouse Sallie Krawcheck, and Technology Thought Leader Charlene Li

Simmons College today announced the speakers for its April 2 premier Simmons Leadership Conference, the longest running women's leadership forum in the country. Focusing on the theme "Women of Influence," the conference features Academy Award nominee Viola Davis; former Wall Street banker and financial powerhouse Sallie Krawcheck; best-selling author and technology thought leader Charlene Li; fashion innovator Josie Natori; crisis management expert Judy Smith; and playwright and performer Anna Deavere Smith.

"This year's exceptional speakers are not only distinguished by their achievements, but also for their role in inspiring other women to strive for greatness," said Conference Executive Director Joyce Kolligian. "Attendees tell us that the caliber of our speakers and the spirit of collaboration they experience at the Simmons Leadership Conference energizes them, empowers them to tackle professional challenges, and motivates them to give back to other women."

The Simmons Leadership Conference is the preeminent and longest-running women's leadership forum in the country, and annually attracts a global audience of more than 3,000 business and professional women. The 2013 event will be held at the Seaport World Trade Center Boston.

For the full conference schedule and registration information, visit: You can follow the conference live on Twitter @SimmonsLeads and #SLC13.

Notable Speakers

A compelling presence on both stage and screen, Academy Award-nominated actress Viola Davis brings a memorable authenticity and depth of feeling to the complex women she portrays. She won both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for her breakout role in King Hedley II. Davis later received another Tony for her leading role in Fences. She garnered several Oscar nominations for best supporting actress for her riveting turn in the film version of Doubt, and again for best actress for her indelible performance in The Help. Women in Film recently recognized Davis's accomplishments with a Crystal Award for excellence in film, and TIME magazine named her to its 2012 list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Widely considered the most powerful woman on Wall Street during her tenure, Sallie Krawcheck is past president of Global Wealth & Investment Management for Bank of America. In this role, she headed up the world's largest wealth management business, overseeing $2.3 trillion in client balances held at Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust. Among many other accolades, she was named CNBC's "Business Leader of the Future," one of TIME magazine's "Global Business Influentials," Fortune's "Most Influential Person Under the Age of 40," and Institutional Investor's top CFO in financial services.

An influential thought leader and critically acclaimed author, Charlene Li is among the world's foremost authorities on social media and emerging technologies. She is the founder of Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm that helps companies and industries leverage disruption to their advantage. Before starting her own company, she was vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research and a consultant with Monitor Group. Li is the co-author of the bestseller Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, as well as author of Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.

Since founding The Natori Company in 1977, CEO Josie Natori has expanded her elegant lingerie collection into a lifestyle brand that now includes a ready-to-wear line, linens and home accents, swimwear, fragrance, and eyewear. A native of the Philippines, she began her business career on Wall Street, serving as the first woman vice president in investment banking at Merrill Lynch. With her strong ethic of giving back, Natori sits on the boards of the Asian Cultural Council, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Women in Need, and the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines.

Judy Smith, founder and president of Smith & Company, is among the country's top experts on crisis management. A former assistant U.S. attorney and deputy press secretary to President George H. W. Bush, she honed her communications skills during some of the most historic events of our time. Her experience in crisis management -- whether counseling Fortune 500 corporations, heads of state, U.S. government agencies, or prominent sports figures -- is the inspiration for the television series Scandal. Smith is the author of the recent book, Good Self, Bad Self: Transforming Your Worst Qualities into Your Biggest Assets.

Playwright, performer, and educator Anna Deavere Smith has created a unique art form combining theater, social commentary, and journalism. Marking this theatrical breakthrough are her two Obie Award-winning, one-woman plays Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992. Currently a professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, she is founder of Anna Deavere Smith Works, which is dedicated to expanding the role of artists in civic discourse. A past recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship, she is now researching a new play as artist-in-residence at the Center for American Progress.

Other Speakers and Moderators

  • Stacy Blake-Beard -- associate professor at the Simmons School of Management and a specialist in organizational behavior, focusing on mentoring relationships
  • Lois Frankel, Ph.D. -- president of Corporate Coaching International and author of several bestsellers on women's leadership, including See Jane Lead
  • Carol Frohlinger -- an affiliated faculty member of the Simmons School of Management and co-founder of the advisory firm Negotiating Women, Inc.
  • Cheryl Howard -- vice president of marketing and admissions at Simmons College, leading university-wide efforts to raise brand awareness, competitively position the college, and manage media outreach to prospective students
  • Roynan Jones -- vice president of EMC's Global Manufacturing and Logistics organization, leading a team responsible for more than $10 billion in revenue
  • Victoria Labalme -- a creative communications expert who brings two decades of entertainment industry experience to create high-impact business communications
  • Kelly McDonald -- a nationally recognized expert on multicultural marketing and business trends, with more than 20 years of experience in global advertising
  • Teresa Nelson -- the Elizabeth J. McCandless Chair in Entrepreneurship and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at the Simmons School of Management
  • Terry Savage -- nationally renowned expert on personal finance who writes a syndicated column for the Chicago Sun-Times and commentaries for

Three pre-conference seminars, which require separate registration, kick off the conference on Monday, April 1. Topics include leadership coaching, cultivating influence, and making the sale. A pre-conference reception that evening will feature facilitated networking with targeted sessions for bio/pharma, finance and accounting, healthcare, high tech, IT, and sales and marketing. The evening reception is complimentary for registered conference attendees.
Conference proceeds help further the development and advancement of future corporate, organizational, and civic leaders through Simmons graduate scholarships.

Corporate Sponsors

Conference corporate sponsors for 2013 include EMC, Seaport World Trade Center, HP, Cisco, TD Bank, Philips North America, Biogen Idec, Merck, Putnam Investments, Fidelity Investments, The Hartford, Staples, PwC, Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, John Hancock Financial Services, MFS Investment Management, Novartis, United Technologies Corporation, Friends of Mel, Haiti Projects, Better After 50, Chic CEO, Little Pink Book, The Next Women, Women's Toolbox, WGBH, BostonCoach, Collegiate Press, Vision Quest Consulting, and Watson's Candies.

Posted by Nicole Herrick on News & Events