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Women’s Leadership Network Hosts Workshop on Executive Presence, Announces New Scholarship


Over 100 Brooklyn Law School alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends gathered at the Forchelli Conference Center on Nov. 19 for the Women’s Leadership Network program “Executive Presence: Unlocking Leadership Potential.”

Founded in 2017, the Network brings together distinguished graduates of the Law School, including judges, corporate leaders, partners and associates in leading law firms, entrepreneurs, and those in public service and nonprofits. Its mission is to develop and offer programs and opportunities designed to support and mentor women in the law, facilitate networking, and promote career success. Past programs include: “Innovating Women in Law: Developing Plans for Success in Sponsorship, Promotion, Networking, Leadership & Flexibility;” “Coming Forward—Advancing Yourself in the Workplace;” “Smart Self-Promotion;” and “Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession—How Can We Do Better?”

At the event, Dean Michael T. Cahill announced a new Women’s Leadership Network Scholarship, created with initial funding from members of the Women’s Leadership Circle. Through the generosity of committed donors, $46,000 has been committed to date in support of this scholarship, exceeding the initial goal of $25,000. The fund continues to grow. The scholarship will be first awarded in the 2020-2021 academic year to deserving law students who best exemplify the mission of the Network.

Women’s Leadership Circle Chair Debbie Epstein Henry ’94, an expert and consultant on women, careers and the law and founder of DEH Consulting, Speaking, Writing, introduced the topic of discussion and moderated the panel. To outline the parameters of executive presence, she cited Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s research on three components: gravitas, or how one acts; communication, or how one speaks; and appearance, or how one looks.

“I think the key to executive presence is reading your audience,” said Henry. “Being able to recognize and understand them enables you to tailor your messaging so that they receive you in the most favorable way.”

Panelists Colleen Caden ’99, Partner and Chair of Immigration Group at Pryor Cashman; Kathleen Chastaine ’06, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Trillium Management; Eleni Coffinas ’85, Member and Head of one of the Medical Malpractice Units at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo; and Michael Grohman ’83, Partner and Head of the New York Office at Duane Morris, shared their personal experiences and offered advice.

Caden shared that junior professionals can exhibit gravitas by demonstrating an eagerness to take on tasks, even if they seem too difficult at their level.

Coffinas cautioned against trying too hard to emulate others and advised participants to own their appearance confidently. “Develop your own style and act like you mean it,” she said.

The panel was followed by breakout discussions facilitated by members of the Women’s Leadership Circle and a networking reception.

For more information or to get involved with the Women's Leadership Network, please contact Caitlin Monck ’02, Director of Alumni Engagement and Special Projects.

Contribute to the Women’s Leadership Network Scholarship Fund

View photo gallery here

Women’s Leadership Circle

Debbie Epstein Henry '94, Chair
Andrea Anderson '04
Anna Ashurov '12
Meeka Bondy '94
Anne Marie Bowler '00
Colleen Caden '99
Michelle A. Crutchfield '05
Hon. Marguerite Dougherty `01
Denise Faltischek '00
Valerie Fitch '88
Hon. Emily Goodman '68
Melique Jones '98
Stacy Kanter '84
Susan Karten '83
Hon. Claire Kelly '93
Alexa Kranzley '08
Diana LaMorie '10
Olivera Medenica '00
Nicole George-Middleton '01
Karin Norton '97
Colleen Piccone '90
Susan Posen '78
Dorothea Regal '78
Deborah Riegel '93
Nicole Schermerhorn '12
Jodi Siegel-Stein '06
Sonya Smith-Valentine '97
Hon. Anne Swern '80
Sophia Valiotis '04
Marcia Wallace '77
Mary Willis White '13
Beverly Wilson '12