Brianna LaGuardia

March 17th was a monumental day at Bryant University for female empowerment. It was the day over 1,000 women from across the globe traveled to Bryant campus for the 2017 Women’s Summit. Directed by Mrs. Kati Machtley, her committee and the many volunteers, the 20th Annual Women’s Summit was a huge success.

The 2017 Women’s Summit marked 20 years of inspiring and empowering females personally and professionally. The day consisted of four powerful keynote speakers and dozens of breakout sessions designed to address hot topics such as diversity, investment, technology, wellness, cybersecurity and the female role in them. The day began with keynote speaker Mary Kelly, a retired Navy Commander, renowned economist, and author. An expert in leadership, Kelly spoke to the eager crowd of Women’s Summit attendees about effective leadership. Kelly urged attendees to reflect on their lives and the legacy they hope to leave behind for themselves and the next generation of females. The Summit then utilized rooms across campus for breakout sessions on individual topics of interest. Reconnecting afterwards, the women were eager to share what they learned in individual sessions with one another. Power Plenary speaker Debi Slider amplified further this feeling of support and empowerment with her speech. Silber, an award-winning health expert, shared her story of overcoming obstacles and the power of being “unshakeable”.

Leymah Gbowee, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work in leading a women’s peace movement that ended the Second Liberian Civil War was the third keynote speaker whose speech got to the core reason it is so vital for the Women’s Summit to exist. Gbowee shared her experiences and how she built peace through women-led movements. Eloquent and wise, Gbowee invigorated attendees to fight to overcome personal obstacles while helping other women in our local and global community. Lastly, the Summit was fortunate to have Geena Davis, an award winning actor come speak about her life, career and pursuit of gender and diversity equality on screen. Davis posed the question – why create a problem that future generations will have to solve? This is important for all people to reflect on as we hope to create a world with sustainable peace for all. In addition to sharing their stories, the keynote speakers held book signings and attended a networking event at the end of the day, where students and businesswomen could interact with them and one another.  

Overall, the Summit reminded us that if there is any woman anywhere suffering, that it IS our business. That is what this day taught us- to work together to reach our individual potential and calling, and also to be fearless in our pursuit of global equality. “Spending the day with such strong and inspiring women gave me the confidence that we all have a calling and can make a difference in our own way”- Cassandra Pirante, a sophomore at Bryant.

If interested in being placed on the mailing list for the 2018 Women’s Summit, visit We look forward to seeing you there!