All panelists take the stage at the 2023 women's symposium
Students ask questions at the 2023 women's symposium
anita speaks with a student at the 2023 women's symposium
Raleigh speaks at the 2023 women's symposium
2023 Women's symposium Be bold panel with Raleigh, Maria, Melissa and Agnes
Third Annual Women’s Symposium Emboldens Blair Community
Ashley Schreyer

When Agnes Chapski P’25 started her career more than two decades ago, women were fighting one another to advance to the top of the publishing field. Her mission was to change that narrative. Today, as a leader in the industry, she advocates for and encourages other women to succeed, with a firm belief that women should be boosting one another up instead of tearing them down. This weekend, Ms. Chapski visited Blair with other fierce women to share that message—along with others—to the future generations of female powerhouses.

2023 womens symposium panelists

Exploring the call to “Be Bold,” Blair’s third annual Women’s Symposium last Saturday consisted of conversations and panel discussions on the topics of boldness, strength, values and financial health as they apply to women’s personal and professional lives. The event commenced in the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration forum with Blair’s 20th—and first female—Board Chair, Maria Vinci Savettiere P’17, welcoming attendees and sharing gratitude for the ability to come together as a community.

“I strongly believe that it is so important that women motivate and mentor future generations of leaders and changemakers,” Mrs. Vinci Savettiere told the audience. “With such a talented and experienced range of female speakers and panelists, I know we will all leave here armed with invaluable knowledge and connections.”

Since the 50th anniversary celebration of the return of coeducation at Blair, the Women’s Symposium has brought members of the Blair community together to motivate, uplift and connect through conversation and networking opportunities to learn from diverse, insightful speakers and panelists around topics that affect women today. This year’s program consisted of panel discussions, exercises in defining personal values and how they relate to boldness, as well as Q&A from the audience.

The day’s first panel, “Tactical Boldness: Strength in Self,” focused on what boldness means to Mrs. Vinci Savettiere, Ms. Chapski, Melissa Levinson ’15 and Raleigh Dierlam ’09. The speakers addressed the challenges they have faced in their professional and personal lives and how the ability to be bold in the face of adversity meant something different to each of them.

“You’ll hear the word pivot a lot today,” Ms. Chapski said. “Being bold means not being afraid to make changes and embrace changes in your life.” Each of the panelists had at least one “pivot moment” in their careers to offer the audience, along with advice and personal experiences to share.

After the first panel, Dr. Emily Cherenack ’08 took the stage to connect her studies in psychology with the call to “Be Bold” through a values-based exercise where she asked the audience to clarify their personal values, differentiate personal from societal values and use personal values to help them to act boldly. Audience members engaged in the process, voraciously scribbling notes and sharing thoughts on what society has deemed a “perfect woman” should care about. Before lunch—when guests had the opportunity to network with one another and the panelists—Anita (Ricketts) Sarate ’88 gave a motivating presentation on turning courage on the inside to boldness on the outside.

With an audience of students, faculty, staff and Blair parents in attendance, the symposium concluded with a final panel of all speakers, moderated by Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79. Attendees were not shy to ask the group questions, hoping to capitalize on the culmination of experience in the room. The panel represented courageous females at all stages of their career who didn’t hesitate to share what they could about their successes and failures.

“At Blair, you are swimming in opportunities to build your confidence,” Ms. Ricketts told the students in the room. “Seize those opportunities.”

Click "play" below to watch a recording of the 2023 Blair Women's Symposium.

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