Chanise Reese-Queen's Reflection

Chanise Reese-Queen

The ACUI Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) was AMAZING! I am so inspired and more confident as a leader than ever. I’m so grateful to the UMBrella Group for providing me with the opportunity to attend WLI 2019. The sessions were impactful, and the speakers were phenomenal. As I reviewed my notes and pondered the insightful information delivered by the various WLI speakers, three key takeaways stood out:

  • Education is the great equalizer.
  • Build a circle of women.
  • Ask for what I want.

One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, president and chief executive officer of Huston-Tillotson University, stated, “Education is the great equalizer.” This resonated with me because I’m passionate about education and lifelong learning. Then I started thinking about how to promote “education as the great equalizer” — how do I motivate and persuade people of color to go beyond secondary to postsecondary education, and how do I address the ethnic and racial disparities in education? These are tough questions. I will do my best to answer at least one of them moving forward.

During WLI, I met some awesome women from various backgrounds. I started thinking about my circle of women — I didn’t have one. Where was my sisterhood? Teri Bump, vice president at American Campus Communities, asked, “What will you do to help a sister out?” She shared that we needed more women sponsors and fewer mentors. Sponsors advocate and use their influence to elevate other women. After WLI, I reconnected with two individuals who were instrumental in my career development.

There is a proverb that talks about a person who wants friends must first show themselves friendly. I’m now showing myself friendly, reaching out, asking for advice from women I respect, and including them as part of my circle of women. Moreover, I’m open to opportunities where I can support and encourage women in achieving their educational and career goals, their business endeavors, and, most of all, their dreams.

Ask for what you want. I attended a session on “Know Your Worth … Then Add Tax.” It was about negotiating and asking for what you want. There have been times when I did not ask for what I wanted due to fear of rejection, past experiences, or not wanting to seem like I’m asking for too much. During this session, I learned strategies for negotiating and it was recommended to read the book Ask For It: How Women Can Use Negotiation to Get What They Really Want by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. I downloaded the book on my Kindle and started reading it on my way home from WLI. I could have used this book 10 years ago!

Other takeaways included giving myself permission to speak my truth and be extraordinary; being a disruptor; going back and doing the things I regret NOT doing (see YouTube video titled What Is Your Biggest Regret?); knowing what I value; and telling my story. I feel so empowered as a woman, a leader, and an educator. I had a wonderful experience.

Again, thank you, UMBrella, for this opportunity. It really feels great to be a part of an institution that supports women in leadership.

- Chanise Reese-Queen