College of Business Administration

2016 Spirit of Women in Business Conference

The Sixth Annual Spirit of Women in Business Conference is on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in the Kent State Student Center, and is an annual event hosted by the Kent State University College of Business Administration. The conference has sold out the past three years, bringing together women from diverse professional backgrounds. Last year, more than 300 business professionals, along with undergraduate and graduate students from Northeast Ohio and beyond, attended the event. The day-long conference includes a 60 minute keynote speech with Q&A, as well as three breakout sessions, each with presentation options for attendees to choose. 

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Limited Tickets Available Now!

Keynote Speaker

Deborah Kolb, Keynote Speaker

Deborah Kolb, Ph.D.

Dr. Kolb is an authority on gender issues in negotiation and leadership, especially how women can negotiate the conditions for their own success while contributing to the effectiveness of their organization.

Dr. Kolb has co-authored several books on this subject. Everyday Negotiation: Navigating the Hidden Agendas of Bargaining shows women (and men) how they can become more effective in their everyday negotiations by attending to the dual requirements of the shadow negotiation – advocacy for oneself and connection with others. Dr. Kolb’s most recent book, Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating the Five Challenges of Leadership Success, describes how successful women negotiate for what they need to be effective in leadership roles at all levels of an organization. A revised paperback version is due in September, 2010. She is currently working on a new book, entitled Negotiating Work, which outlines a new approach to negotiation in the workplace that connects individual actions to organization change. She was also recently published in the Harvard Business Review with Be Your Own Best Advocate. Dr. Kolb publishes extensively on these topics and regularly presents her work to national and international audiences.

Dr. Kolb is a principal in Negotiating Women, LLC., a company that provides negotiation training and consultation especially designed for women. Dr. Kolb joined the Simmons faculty in 1977. From 1991-1994, she was Executive Director of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Program where she co-directs The Negotiations in the Workplace Project. For the fall term 2009-2010, Dr. Kolb will be the Faculty Research Fellow at Michelle Clayman Institute for Gender Research Stanford University.

2016 SWIB Award

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Kathy McElligott

Kathy McElligott is the receipient of this year's Spirit of Women in Business Award. McElligott is Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer of McKesson Corporation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Kent State University and a master’s degree in business management from Xavier University.

Prior to McKesson, McElligott served as the CIO of Emerson, a St. Louis-based global manufacturing and technology company. In her 15 years at Emerson, McElligott held a variety of executive positions including vice president of Information Technology for Emerson Industrial Automation and vice president of Information Technology for Emerson Power Transmission. Previously, McElligott spent 22 years with General Electric, holding multiple information systems leadership roles, ultimately becoming CIO of supply chain for GE Aircraft Engines.

McElligott was recently appointed to the board of directors at ArcBest, a publicly traded $2.6B freight transportation and logistics company and also serves as board member for Connections to Success, an organization that encourages disadvantaged men and women to achieve economic self-reliance. While in St. Louis, McElligott was a member of the board of trustees for Fontbonne University, the industry advisory council of Washington University and member on the St. Louis CIO Board. McElligott is also a member of the CIO Strategy Exchange, a small and selective multi-sponsor program for chief information officers from the most forward-looking companies.

Session Topics

Breakout Session I                                                                      

  • Career Imperfections: How to Brave the Corporate Ladder presented by Peneske Panel
  • Discussion with the Keynote presented by Deborah Kolb, Ph.D.

Breakout Session II                                                                      

  • Leadership Success Strategies: Second-Generation Gender Bias presented by EMBA Panel
  • Lean In: Tactical Solutions for Success presented by Lisa Waite

Breakout Session III                                                                    

  • Networking: Beyond Your Bubble presented by Kim Riley 
  • How Women are Transforming the World: The Socially-Conscious Economy and Feminine Values presented by Ursuline College Panel

Session Speaker Bios

Full Conference Schedule 

Location and Parking

The event will take place in the Kent State University - Kent Student Center. Parking is available in the lot directly south of the Student Center in the visitor lot.


For hotel accommodations, we recommend the Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Kent. Visit their website to make your reservation.

Sponsorship Opportunities

The sixth annual Spirit of Women in Business Conference offers several levels of marketing, advertising sponsorships. Each level is an easy and convenient way to show your support for the conference while promoting your company, product or service to attendees. The deadline to sponsor the event is February 12, 2016 at 12 p.m.

Learn more about sponsoring the conference

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To Register

SWIB Presentation

Registration for the 2016 Spirit of Women in Business Conference: Navigating and Negotiating is open through February 19, 2016.

We expect a sell-out event, so register soon!


Past Conference Highlights

Check out highlights from the 2015 Spirit of Women in Business Conference featuring keynote speaker Sheena Iyengar and Virginia Albanese, President and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical.

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Contact Us


Kristin Williams

Honorary Chairperson
(330) 672-2419

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