San Marcos,
08:00 AM

University to Host First Women's Leadership Symposium

By Eric Breier

Cal State San Marcos will host its first Women’s Leadership Symposium on Feb. 29, providing participants an opportunity to connect, explore and engage in topics pertaining to women’s leadership and empowerment

The free event, being held from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. in the USU Ballroom, is open to all students.

Organizers are designing the day to provide participants an opportunity to learn more about their individual identities and the unique influences they have on their leadership style. The symposium is a cross-campus collaboration between students -- including Associated Students Inc., staff from Student Life & Leadership and the Gender Equity Center -- and faculty.

"The symposium is offering ways for me to develop a deeper understanding on how my leadership skills can make a difference," said CSUSM student Joenetta Benjamin. "I am truly honored to have an opportunity to be surrounded by a supportive network of women who will offer knowledge to challenge my inner warrior and to help me build more confidence and wisdom."

The day will include a keynote address from Lakitsia Gaines, a prominent businesswoman who operates two State Farm agencies in Florida.

Gaines lives by the motto, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” As a college scholarship recipient who graduated from Florida A&M University, Gaines personally donates more than $50,000 a year in sponsorships and scholarships for deserving high school students. She also spends more than 200 hours hosting free public seminars on financial literacy.

The symposium also includes multiple workshops hosted by CSUSM faculty and a panel on cultural identity that will be moderated by Gail Cole-Avent, associate vice president of Student Life. Presenters include CSUSM professors Fredi Avalos, Ranjeeta Basu and Kendra Rivera as well as Darcy Wright, an academic support coordinator in the School of Nursing. Workshops include Salary Negotiation, Women Supporting Women, Mentorship, Mindfulness and Compassion, and Learning Your Leadership Style.

“The student response to this event has been powerful," said Shannon Nolan-Arañez, coordinator of student involvement for Student Life & Leadership and the symposium committee chair. "With approximately 60% of CSUSM students identifying as female, we hope to give all students a chance to explore how their gender and cultural identities influence their leadership style so that they leave our symposium empowered with a deeper sense of community.”

The symposium is being sponsored by CSUSM’s Center for Leadership Innovation and Mentorship Building, the Dean of Students, Student Life & Leadership, and Student Life.


What: Women’s Leadership Symposium

Who: Open to all CSUSM students

When: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29

Where: USU Ballroom, California State University San Marcos

Cost: Free; register online by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 21

Information: Visit the symposium website or email

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist | Office: 760-750-7314