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Women’s Empowerment Conference Explores Societal Expectations and Roles

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Walsh welcomed a crowd of 180 attendees for the fourth annual Women’s Empowerment Conference on Saturday, November 11. Organized by the Walsh Women’s Empowerment Initiative, this year’s conference theme examined the rules and norms of gender while focusing specifically on the theme of service, whether that be in the community, the military, the professional realm or in the home.

Stark County’s youngest and only female veteran ever inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame delivered the keynote address. Retired Army Officer and combat veteran Dr. Margaret DeLillo-Storey spent 23 years in the Army and served overseas in Operations Desert Storm, Shield and Farewell.

“Dr. DeLillo-Storey exemplifies part of Walsh’s mission as a leader in service to others,” said WE Committee member and Director of Service Learning Abigail Poeske during her keynote introduction. “She is someone who puts others before herself without second thought, and we all have a lot to learn from her.”

Dr. DeLillo-Storey Psy.D, PCC-S, BCET-S currently serves as District Clinical Counselor and Dean of Students for her alma mater, Perry Local Schools. She was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2011, was the youngest Stark County veteran ever inducted, and was one of only 23 veterans to be inducted from Stark County since 1992. She remains the only female veteran from Stark County in the Hall to this day.

“I come from a very Catholic, Italian family. And when we talk about non-traditional roles, I guess you could say I broke every role known to man in my family,” said Dr. DeLillo-Storey. “I sat in on two panels today and there were a lot of great questions and good messages being put forth. I think everyone here realizes that it has to start young with communication. We have to teach kids how to communicate beyond a phone. They need to know how to look at one another and ask a question. I think we’re talking about some very difficult situations that we aren’t going to fix in a day. But we can start.”

Facilitated by faculty and staff members, the event included roundtable sessions with more than 25 community and business leaders. Topics included: Women and the Professional Realm; Women in an International Frame; Education, Equity, and Opportunity; Masculinity in Contemporary Society; Women and Image: Beauty, Aesthetics and Pressures Today Women; and Gender and Military Service. More than 90 Walsh students from various majors and divisions were also in attendance. Several students presented their original research and analysis on subject matter including women’s roles in the media; consideration of gender in literature, art and popular culture; social norms; business world and professionalism.  

“Our students raised really interesting questions and the room was fuller than it’s ever been,” said event organizer and Chair of the Division of Literature, Language and Communication, Amanda Gradisek, Ph.D. “It’s clear that even in the four years that we’ve been doing this, there is more of a demand now to have these conversations. For example, this year we had 90 Walsh students signed up on a Saturday to attend this event. I think that is pretty remarkable.”

2017 Event Sponsors: Walsh University Diversity Council, Student Affairs, the School of Arts and Sciences, the DeVille School of Business, Multicultural Affairs, and the Division of Literature, Language, and Communication.