Advancing Women in Leadership
Join Us for Our Next Gathering: March 11, 2024 at Taylor University
Over the decades and across most sectors of societies worldwide, women continue to be significantly underrepresented in senior-level leadership roles. For example, among the top 500 U.S. corporations, women as of 2020 hold only 5.8% of chief executive officer positions and only 21.2% of board seats (Catalyst, 2020). In the field of higher education, data reported by the American Council on Education documented that, as of 2016, women held 30% of college and university presidencies, up only 4% from 2011 (American College President Study, 2017). Across the more than 185 institutions aligned with the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, 18 were led by women presidents as of Spring 2021, whereas the collective enrollment of these institutions was more than 60% female students.
With the goal of supporting member institutions in identifying and equipping high-potential women for expanding leadership roles, the CCCU first offered a Women’s Leadership Development Institute (WLDI) in June 1998, with repeated offerings each June in even-numbered years. In total, over 300 women have participated in the WLDI offerings between 1998 and 2018, with an equal number participating in the “Mixed” (Men’s and Women’s) Leadership Development Institutes, Multi-Ethnic LDIs, and various Advanced Leadership Institutes. To date, over 40 of these participants have been promoted into cabinet-level leadership roles, in addition to 7 participants moving into the presidency of a CCCU institution.
Recognizing the ongoing need to support the professional advancement of more women into leadership, CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra authorized the formation of a “Women and Leadership Task Force” that would advise and guide the CCCU in regard to current and future programming oriented toward women’s leadership development within the context of Christ-centered higher education. In addition to national initiatives such as the WLDI offerings, the Task Force will provide oversight for the CCCU’s “Advancing Women in Leadership” conference held during Women’s History Month (March) each year; to date, this conference has been located in Southern California and invited national participation.
History & Vision
The Advancing Women in Leadership Conference was first offered in March 2016 following dialogue at the CCCU June 2015 Women’s Advanced Leadership Institute (WALI) at Cedar Springs Christian Retreat Center near Sumas, Washington. The program focused on “Embracing Leadership with Confidence and Preparing the Next Generation.” The passion and dream that emerged from this group was to prepare the next generation of women leaders by initiating a nationwide effort through an annual conference hosted by CCCU member institutions in observation of March’s National Women’s History Month.
The goal was to raise awareness of the underrepresentation of women in senior-level leadership within the context of Christian higher education, and to prepare women of all ages and at all career stages for professional advancement, influence, and impact. The conference was envisioned to be an annual March event co-sponsored by CCCU and hosted by a different member institution each year. Pepperdine University served as the first host institution in March 2016 and the momentum continues.
- To educate and enlighten CCCU institutional leaders regarding the status of women in leadership positions within both Christian universities and higher education more broadly.
- To inspire and enable the women of CCCU institutions to be poised and prepared to step into leadership roles within our institutions.
- To provide programs, materials, and other tools to conference participants, equipping them to launch “Women in Leadership” training programs on their own campuses.
- To ensure that the cost of this one-day event would remain low, encouraging participation from junior members and students of campus communities to consider their potential for future leadership across numerous spheres of influence.
- To feature and support the national recognition of March as Women’s History Month through high-quality programming that could have ripple effects both individually and institutionally across the CCCU.
- To provide inspiring role models (of and for both women and men) of those who have risen to leadership and/or who have enabled women to move into positions of leadership within a campus setting.
- To cultivate mentors, sponsors, and coaches who will launch supportive opportunities on their campuses that provide development spaces to journey together, to learn from each other, to grow deeper in faith, calling and purpose.
- To involve keynote speakers who are both instructive and inspirational regarding forging a path for women into leadership within higher education.
- To build and encourage networking among conference participants as a life-giving support to individuals who may feel alone or unsupported in their professional journeys.
The Advancing Women in Leadership Conference was first offered in March 2016 following dialogue at the CCCU June 2015 Women’s Advanced Leadership Institute (WALI) at Cedar Springs Christian Retreat Center near Sumas, Washington. The program focused on “Embracing Leadership with Confidence and Preparing the Next Generation.” The passion and dream that emerged from this group was to prepare the next generation of women leaders by initiating a nationwide effort through an annual conference hosted by CCCU member institutions in observation of March’s National Women’s History Month. The goal was to raise awareness of the underrepresentation of women in senior-level leadership within the context of Christian higher education, and to prepare women of all ages and at all career stages for professional advancement, influence, and impact. The conference was envisioned to be an annual March event co-sponsored by CCCU and hosted by a different member institution each year. Pepperdine University served as the first host institution in March 2016 and the momentum continues:
- 2016 – Empowering Women to Lead – Pepperdine University
- 2017 – Advancing Women in Leadership in Higher Education – Biola University
- 2018 – Purpose – Azusa Pacific University
- 2019 – LIFT: Leading with Integrity, Faith and Trust – Vanguard University
- 2020 – Growing Resilient with Others in Wonder – California Baptist University (Cancelled due to COVID Pandemic)
- 2021 – Lead With Action – Westmont College
- 2022 – Lead with Courage & Agility – 2022 CCCU International Forum
- 2023 – GROW: Growing Resilient with Others in Wonder – Judson University
2023 Event Recap
Judson University hosted over 200 participants with great success on March 6, 2023, which marked another sold-out conference for AWIL. View a recap of the events and activities that included keynote speakers Dr. K. Shelette Stewart, Dr. Ruth Haley Barton, and CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra. GROW – Growing Resilient with Others in Wonder – was the themed conference and included a celebratory luncheon honoring Dr. Karen Longman (Azusa Pacific University) for her 25 years of dedication and leadership with CCCU’s development institutes. A special tribute and fundraising effort to support future leaders commemorated Dr. Longman’s impact in Christian higher education. Thank you to Judson University and their stellar display of hospitality and leadership with AWIL.
Marketing and Branding
The Advancing Women in Leadership logo and brand identity are used by each host institution, maintaining the established logo standards. The logo was created by Azusa Pacific University in 2018 when it served as the conference host site, and was approved by the founding Women and Leadership Task Force and CCCU leadership. The conference brand identity system and conference look received an award of recognition by Graphic Design USA in June 2018. The colors and shapes can be adjusted but cannot change the name of the conference as it is identified in the logo. Misrepresentation or misuse of the logo is not permitted.
Initial membership of the Women and Leadership Task Force involves representation of founding members from the 2015 Women’s Advanced Leadership Institute that launched the Advancing Women in Leadership conferences, plus others who have provided leadership to this initiative in various regards.
Meet the AWIL Task Force
April Harris Akinloye
Assistant Vice President for Community Belonging
Chief Advancement Officer
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
Betsy Bugg Holloway
Vice President for Advancement & Marketing
Karen A. Longman
Professor and Ph.D. Program Director, Doctoral Higher Education
Azusa Pacific University
Irene Neller – Chair
Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing and Communication
Santa Barbara, CA
Sara Young Jackson – Co-Chair
Admissions & Marketing Coordinator
Santa Barbara, CA