Swain Center highlights women with International Women’s Day series

Kylie Woods, Contributing Writer

In honor of International Women’s day, the Swain Center at the UNC-Wilmington put together series of virtual workshops highlighting women and their leadership roles in in their communities. The series took place during the week of March 8-12, 2021 and showcased four women: Portia Mount, Jennifer Martineau, Abigail Dunne-Moses and Laura Santana.  

The director of the Swain Center, Robert Walsh, is dedicated to helping small businesses. They started planning this series last year, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus quickly got in their way. To start planning they reached out to leaders in the community eager to inspire othersWith the onset of the COVID-19 virus, the Swain Center was most interested in seeing how people would overcome these challenges and persevere through the uncertainty and lack of interaction, and that’s what these sessions focus on.  

Each day featured a different workshop led by five different women with the desire to inspire and lift other women into positions of power that are all their own 

Monday’s session featured Portia Mount. Mount is the VP of marketing for Ingersoll-Rand/Trane and co-author of Kick Some Glass. Her workshop was called Overcome Imposter Syndrome,” and focused on the imposter syndrome, or doubting your abilities and feeling as if you are out of place in your own skin, which is something women often feel in workplace settings. She offered ideas of ways to combat imposter syndrome and maintain inclusivity.    

Wednesday’s session was called Building Your Network of Champions and was led by Jennifer Martineau. Who founded her own small business called Lead & Inspire Global and is the other co-author of Kick Some Glass.  This session laid a heavy emphasis on networks and looking back at who is already in your network personally, professionally, through school or through religion and faith. She also touched on the differences between personal and strategic networks. Personal networks are beneficial for deeper connections and long-lasting networks. Strategic networks are usually not long term and exist for the sole purpose of personal growth. Martineau encouraged her listeners to think about the networks they already have and how they can make those networks stronger.  

Abigail Dunne-Moses led Thursday’s session about creating significance and respect. In this session, Dunne-Moses encouraged her audience to continuously evaluate themselves. These constant evaluations will bring areas of growth and downfall to the surface. She wanted to teach people how women can rise with strength and perseverance in a world that almost constantly paints women in a slightly lighter painting.   

Friday’s session was led by Laura Santana. The session was entitled Bring Forth Your Best Self” and was focused on giving people ways to consistently bring their best selves to any situation. Santana also encouraged her audience to accept and take in life’s disruptions. which can ultimately bring even more authenticity and eventually strength, as well as finding way inside oneself to be calm.  

These sessions, as well as the Swain Center itself, focuses heavily on equity and inclusion. Much of the reasoning for doing this series is related to inclusivity and perseverance as well as a heavy foothold in leadership practices. Inclusivity is a major part of the Swain Center’s mission in developing leaders and assisting local and small business owners during these uncertain times. Conference audience members are taught how to engage with others, how to build networks and how to engage with themselves and find a path through their life that works for them. In honor of International Women’s day, this conference relates to empowering all people to follow their leadership instincts and develop a better understanding of how to lead yourself while also leading others in the process.