Bethany College held its Ninth Annual Women & Leadership Symposium on April 5 and 6, focusing on the theme of teamwork and its pivotal role in professional success and leadership development. The event brought together students, distinguished alumnae, faculty, and staff for two days of insightful discussions, networking opportunities, and empowering speeches. 

The symposium kicked off on Friday evening with a dinner and an icebreaker session, setting the stage for an engaging weekend ahead. Keynote speaker Jennifer Grondahl ’97, senior vice president of community development and communications for the Baltimore Orioles, delivered a thought-provoking speech centered on finding beauty in failure, its transformative power in guiding individuals toward success, and finding your invisible team. 

“Can you not only surround yourself with people who lift you up, but can they be honest with you too,” questioned Grondahl. “Because sometimes, we need someone to check us.” She went onto say, “My mentor, who could really lift me up and literally move mountains to find opportunity for me, could also sit me down and tell me to settle down. So, I encourage you to find that person and put them on your team.” She ended by saying, “Find your team. Be a team. Find those invisible people who are going to lift you up, and you will get to exactly where you are supposed to go.”

Following Grodahl’s moving speech, students, alumnae, faculty, and staff were all invited to a networking reception in Phillips Hall. Here, students mingled with peers and accomplished alumnae, providing them with a chance to network while enjoying refreshments and desserts.  

Saturday morning commenced with brunch followed by a moving and powerful panel discussion featuring accomplished women leaders from various industries. The panelists, including Marketing Director for Belmont Savings Bank Alicia Jordan ’99, Executive Director for St. Vincent de Paul in Northern Ky. Karen Zengel ’99, College Chaplain and Pastor of Bethany Memorial Church Rev. Erin James-Brown, and graduate student Sophie Morey ‘24, moderated by retired Assistant Superintendent and Director of Special Education and Pre-School Services Diane Thompson ‘82. The panelists shared their diverse career journeys and emphasized the importance of collaboration and innovation in achieving personal and professional goals.

Princess Serrano ’14, a dynamic leader with extensive experience in finance and media, took the stage as the keynote speaker on Saturday. Serrano’s speech focused on the significance of building connections, sharing your gifts, and fostering relationships in advancing one’s career—a message resonating deeply with attendees.  

“It’s not only important to recognize your gift, but to strengthen it, nurture it, hold onto it, and see how many doors it will open,” said Serrano. “Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Know your skills, know how you can use them, and always bring your best foot forward. The rest will sort itself out.” 

Among the highlights of the symposium was the announcement of the Scarlett Foster Women & Leadership Award, presented annually to a Bethany female upperclassman demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities. This year’s recipient, Sage Halbritter ‘24, was recognized for her willingness to support Bethany females, her involvement on campus, and her dedication to the community. Halbritter is a member of the Bethany volleyball team, philanthropy chairwoman of Phi Mu, and a double major in psychology and religious studies. 

Theresamarie Banks ’24 and Rachel (Samlall) Whitfield ’13, serving as emcees for the symposium, added vibrancy and enthusiasm to the event, reflecting the College’s dedication to nurturing leadership potential among its students and alumni.

Thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of the planning commitment and its numerous sponsors, the Women & Leadership Symposium proved to be a resounding success, inspiring attendees to embrace teamwork, cultivate connections, and strive for excellence in their professional endeavors. 

View Photos