Photo of Cynthia Turner and Donna James at the Women's Leadership Symposium

For those gathered at The Blackwell on the final Friday of Women’s History Month — and for many others joining virtually — the conversation between Donna James and Cynthia Turner was the perfect ending to Fisher’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Symposium.

The event, which brought together students, faculty, alumni, friends and allies, was a daylong exploration of the latest research into topics related to women in leadership. It featured discussions designed to enhance attendees’ professional development strategies as well as opportunities to expand personal and professional networks.

James, managing director at Lardon & Associates LLC, and Turner, assistant dean and chief diversity officer at Fisher, shared their experiences as women in business and academia as part of a discussion focusing on balancing success and wellness. Both spoke about the challenges they — and many women — have faced, including serious health issues and the constant struggle to achieve a work-like balance.  

The session resonated with Gauri Shah, a third-year finance student and president of the Undergraduate Business Women’s Association.

Headshot of Gauri Shah
Gauri Shah

“I have always felt it necessary to be involved in everything, oftentimes to the point of burnout,” she said. “There are so many great opportunities to take advantage of, especially as a student at Ohio State. Sometimes, the importance of self-care completely goes above my head, and I neglect taking care of my physical and mental health. It is okay to ask for help, and that you don’t have to do everything in life to be considered successful.

“I learned that if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

With the in-person portion of the symposium held at The Blackwell, the event kicked off with a lunch conversation with Dean Anil Makhija and Andrea Prud’homme, associate dean for undergraduate programs and students. The symposium included other sessions that leveraged Fisher’s strength as a business college, namely its prowess as a research institution and an alumni and friends network that is always willing to engage students and enhance the success of all Business Buckeyes.

“The support of everyone associated with the Women’s Leadership Symposium illustrates just how important diversity, equity and inclusion are, not only here at Fisher, but also in our shared responsibility to make business, industries and our communities more diverse, equitable and inclusive,” Makhija said. “One of the central tenets of Fisher’s strategic plan is our collective embrace of diversity as a powerful differentiator for the college.”


Other sessions at the Women’s Leadership Symposium included:

  • Bouncing Back from the COVID-19 Pandemic, a panel discussion that explored the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls, how they can respond to and recover from those challenges and to better navigate future ones
    • Featuring: Tracy Dumas, assistant professor of management and human resources, and Steffanie Wilk, professor of management and human resources
    • Moderated by Corrine Burger (BSBA ’85), chief control manager at JPMorgan Chase
  • Up Next: Emerging Issues in Leadership Part 1, a research-based look at how leaders can empower their teams to increase performance, employee commitment and self-sufficiency within teams
    • Featuring: Woohee Choi, PhD candidate in management and human resources
    • Moderated by Bernadette Minton, the Arthur E. Shepard Endowed Professorship in Insurance and chair of the Department of Finance
  • Women in Leadership: The Styles That Work, a discussion of how women leaders can identify and develop their unique qualities to lead in any environment
    • Featuring: Krista Endsley (BSBA ’92), CEO EMS LINQ, Inc., and Cindy Hilsheimer (BSBA ’79), Managing Principal, BeecherHill
    • Moderated by Lori Kendall, senior lecturer in management and human resources
  • Up Next: Emerging Issues in Leadership Part 2, a research-based look into the two types of social identities that leaders can utilize to establish a workplace that prioritizes ethical behavior
    • Featuring: Carrie Zhang, PhD candidate in management and human resources
    • Moderated by Jasmine Hu, associate professor of management and human resources
  • Balancing Success and Wellness, an inspirational and encouraging session dedicated to grace and self-care personally and professionally
    • Featuring: Donna James, managing director, Lardon & Associates LLC
    • Moderated by Cynthia Turner (MA ’95, PhD ’96), assistant dean and chief diversity officer
  • Networking Scavenger Hunt, an in-person activity designed to bring authenticity and intentionality to network-building strategies.
    • Facilitated by Jamie Mathews-Mead (MA ’90), senior director, Graduate Career Management

“There was a diverse set of attendees who are in different phases of life. I hope each person was able to take away something that helps them with their own personal and professional development,” Shah said. “I know that each of us felt more empowered after the symposium.”

The Women’s Leadership Symposium was made possible through contributions of three Fisher alumnae: Paula Bennett (BSBA ’71), retired president and CEO of J.Jill; Camille Gibson (BA ’78, MBA ’83), CEO of Sana Foods; and Joyce Mace (BSBA ’84), retired partner at PwC.

“The Women’s Leadership Symposium was a great opportunity to showcase how the many people and parts of our college community can be focused on one important goal: to empower and equip more women and their allies to lead,” Turner said. “This is how meaningful and lasting change in business begins.”

This is how meaningful and lasting change in business begins.

Cynthia Turner (MA '96, PhD '96) Assistant Dean and Chief Diversity Officer