A young alumna tells of her experience at Adelphi’s third Women's Leadership Conference.

I came to Adelphi’s Women’s Leadership Conference as an alumna prepared to learn from the female leaders of today. I walked out as an empowered woman who sees herself as a leader of tomorrow.

Aimed to advance women’s careers through panels, networking and leadership training, the annual conference returned for a third year on November 2, 2019, at The Garden City Hotel. The keynote speakers were Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who had attended Adelphi and was a President’s Gala honoree in 2007, and Carolyn Quinn ’87, executive director of the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Northwell Health, and a member of Adelphi’s Nursing Advisory Board.

Being Successful Despite Being Told “No”

Despite being told she would never succeed, Herman went from being a broker to CEO of the largest and fastest-growing residential real estate brokerage in New York and the “richest self-made woman in real estate,” according to Forbes.

“No one became successful without a million noes…don’t be afraid to fail,” said Herman.

What impressed me about Herman was her emphasis on supporting women. When an alumna asked a question during the Q&A, Herman encouraged her to talk to her personally after the conference. That’s when I knew that this conference was not just about learning from successful women; it was also about connecting with them.

Becoming Your Most Powerful Self

Panel discussions throughout the day reflected this year’s theme: “Becoming Your Most Powerful Self.” I tried to embody that theme by mustering the courage to approach Kim Como, communications manager at Newsday, after hearing her speak at the “How to Stand Out From Everyone Else” panel. She gave me her contact information and encouraged me to reach out anytime.

The “Obstacles to Leadership” panel encouraged women to know their worth by being knowledgeable about salaries and negotiation strategies. I realized there are enough obstacles I face as a woman; I didn’t want to be my own obstacle. So I decided to put my nervousness aside and network with as many women as possible.

Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, member of the Adelphi University Board of Trustees
and a former Adelphi student, presents the opening keynote.

“I Leaned in and I Rose Above”

For the second keynote, Quinn talked about the roles she held at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Working her way up in the company meant hearing as many noes as Herman had.

“I didn’t get angry; I kept asking questions. I leaned in and I rose above,” Quinn said.

At Cohen, she implemented strategies that reduced nursing overtime costs and helped boost nursing engagement scores to become among the highest in the Northwell Health system.

I thought about how I couldn’t wait to become an accomplished leader like the many women I met at the conference. Then Quinn said, “It’s not about [your] shoes but what you choose to do in those shoes.”

Carolyn Quinn ’87, executive director of the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Northwell Health, presenting the afternoon keynote.

A Leader and Lifelong Learner

After the conference, I contacted both keynote speakers to find out more about them. Carolyn Quinn ’87, executive director of Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Northwell Health, and a member of Adelphi’s Nursing Advisory Board, was unavailable, as she was serving on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic. I did get to speak with Trustee Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, about her career and what it was like coming back to Adelphi for the Women’s Leadership Conference.

As a writer, my outlook and personal philosophy have been deeply influenced by certain books. Herman was also deeply influenced by a book: The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. The book has much to offer in leadership lessons. But the Adelphi conference, she said, gave attendees the chance to learn from and network with leaders in person. “I think that’s sometimes a lot better than reading a book.”

Herman said the conference allowed her to connect with many inspiring women and reconnect with Adelphi. “Adelphi has done so much,” she said. “I felt like I was part of a family there.”

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