Program helps women make Connections

May 01, 2013 | Erikah Haavie, Contributing Writer


Take a pottery class. Enjoy regular lunches with friends and colleagues. Don’t try to do it all.

Graduates of Furman’s “Connections” women’s leadership program received some encouragement and candid advice April 29 from S.C. Court of Appeals Judge Aphrodite Konduros to make time for their passions and reflect on their future goals.

It’s OK to power off your cellphones and take a break from the hectic pace of life, she said as part of her graduation address. And while class members may be in different places along their career paths, Konduros told them to “be proud of what you’re doing right now.”

“Connections: Women Leaders of the Upstate,” sponsored by the Division of Continuing Education’s Learning for You program, is now in its 16th year. It’s designed for women of all ages who have demonstrated leadership abilities or been identified as possessing potential for leadership. The program includes lectures and discussions on issues confronting women in leadership, as well as team-building opportunities and other activities.

“We see women moving in record numbers to the forefront of business, public service, communications, education and volunteerism,” says Connections director Beth Crews. “We hope this program will assist women in coming together to connect, take control of their careers, become stronger leaders and make significant contributions to their communities.”

In addition to Konduros, the 2013 sessions were led by women who have achieved prominence in business and in the community, including Deb Sofield, executive speech coach; Colleen Keith, president of Spartanburg Methodist College; Allison Black Cornelius, principal of Blackfish Consulting; Luanne Runge, chair of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce; and Tan Kirby-Davis, founder of Kirby Resource Group.

After graduating from Connections, Marti Spencer, chief executive officer and executive director of the Ronald McDonald House, decided to stay involved as a board member to encourage other women to experience the program’s benefits. “It’s a great fellowship experience, and the lessons learned from the program and each other are invaluable,” Spencer says.

“It’s an awesome tool to help build women to become leaders,” says Denice Harris, asset development manager for Homes of Hope and the recipient of a 2013 Greenville YWCA Dream Achiever Award. “I’m more confident about speaking out and allowing my voice to make changes in my personal life, in the workplace and community.”

In addition to Harris, 2013 Connections graduates are Carol Perrin Cobb, Betty Cox, Pam Davis, Ann Driscoll, Natalie Dunham, Joy Grayson, Euleta Hagins, Stephanie Haltiwanger, Berri Hicks, April Huttenen, Kacie Jackson, Anna Joiner, Brooke Jones, Keri Macaulay, Barbara Martin, Betsy McMillan, Sara Montero-Buria, Tammy Moore, Emily Muserallo, Lindsey Myers, Amanda Perkins, Rhiannon Poore, Carrie Priddy, Tamara Robertson, Deidre Sandrock, Lauren Scoggins, Melissa Seely, Michelle Walley, Tracy Waters, Heather Witt and Nicole Wood.

Go here to learn more about Connections.