Keynote Speech by Victoria Kennedy

Monday, April 10th, at 5:30pm

We are beyond excited to announce that our Keynote Speaker for this year’s Empowerment Conference will be Vicki Kennedy!


Victoria Reggie (Vicki) Kennedy is both an accomplished attorney and a non-profit leader. She is senior counsel in the corporate and securities practice group at Greenberg Traurig LLP, as well as President of the Board and co-founder of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, a non-partisan, non-profit organization in Boston that educates the public about the unique role of the United States Senate in our democracy. The Kennedy Institute has won international awards for its innovative and interactive design and approach to encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities.

In addition to her law practice, board service and non-profit leadership roles, Kennedy has been a leading voice on the empowerment of women and girls in our society and is an advocate for expanding medical research and for access to health care to all Americans.



March for Science Poster Making

Wednesday, April 12, from 4:30-6:00pm


The March for Science is taking place around the world on April 22, 2017, where marchers will demonstrate their passion for science and their support for policies based on scientific fact and supportive of scientific research. If you’re planning to go (in DC, Boston, or elsewhere!), drop by this poster making session. We’ll provide poster boards, markers, and snacks. You’ll create a pithy sign and meet like-minded marchers that you could meet up with the next weekend.

A Seat at the Table: Understanding Identity, Intersectionality, and Allyship

Tuesday, April 11, from 2-4pm


The Women’s March that took place throughout the country in January taught us about the power of unity. Over 200,000 women participated in the march in Boston alone. There were many women, however, who felt the event was more of a “White” Women’s March, meaning that the event did little to acknowledge and uplift marginalized groups including racial minorities, transgender women, and gender-nonconforming persons. The Women’s March highlighted an important topic about women’s unity– we need to unify ALL identities and we need to be allies for marginalized groups. In this workshop, we aim to cover identity, intersectionality, and allyship through interactive activities and discussions. By the end, we hope we can all better understand our sisters (not just our cis-ters) and move forward empowered and prepared to empower others. Presenters will be Tsehai Grell (5th year PhD, Chemistry) and Candace Ross (2nd year PhD, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). This event is co-sponsored by the Black Graduate Student Association.

Solo Traveling 101: Panel

Monday, April 10, at 11am


Are you new to solo traveling? Have you always wanted to try it but have no clue where to start or how to do it safely? Come listen to three amazing professional female solo travelers talk about how they do it and how much fun it is!

They’ll talk about how to choose your destination, which regions are great for solo female travelers, best resources for flights, housing and activities, how to find adventures off the beaten path while staying (reasonably) safe, fun activities on your own, how to make friends or find a community abroad, and more. Come with all of your solo travel questions!


Beth Santos is founder and CEO of Wanderful, a global membership community for women who travel the world. Beth created Wanderful while cruising her blue motorcycle through the streets of São Tomé and Príncipe, a small country in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. In encouraging women to travel, to get involved in the world around them and to live globally, Beth has created an international community of over 15,000 empowered women who strive to conquer the world on foot, while supporting and learning from one another at the same time.

Brianne Miers is a Boston-based entrepreneur, travel blogger and freelance writer. She is the principal of Kind Communications, which provides communications consulting services to cause-driven organizations and enterprises, and her blog, A Traveling Life, focuses on how to balance a professional career with a life of travel. She is a contributor to Immersion Travel Magazine and Ethical Traveler. Her specialties include solo, adventure and responsible travel.

Danielle Giannone, owner of Brave Explorer. Danielle is a certified professional coach who works with both teams and individuals. As a leadership coach she helps develop high performing teams.  As a personal coach she works with individuals to achieve their life goals. Danielle feels most alive when she is out exploring the world. She has worked in the travel industry for nearly 12 years and has been to over 50 countries.  Danielle believes that real, authentic travel has the power to change the world as it is one of the best ways to develop more love and compassion. 

Event Timing:

11-12pm Panel Discussion and Q&A

12-1pm Informal discussion over lunch

Workshop: Strategies for Managing (and Publishing) a Large Writing Project

Wednesday April 12, 11am


Just as large research projects often start with standard methods, so too can large writing projects benefit from a goal, project design, incremental steps, and knowledge of communication processes. In this 90-minute workshop, participants will learn effective strategies for comfortably managing a large project. Furthermore, tips on finding conferences and submitting a proposal for a poster or panel presentation will be covered.

This workshop will be co-led by Amy Carleton, PhD and MIT lecturer in communication, who teaches undergraduate classes in EECS, Mechanical Engineering, and CMS/W. Her own research focuses on online collaborative culture and the digital humanities. Jane Kokernak, also an MIT lecturer in communication, teaches for the most part in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering classes, and also has previous experience in NSE and Biology. Her research interests include team communication for decision making. Angie Locknar, MIT librarian, specializes in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and she also supports students, staff, and faculty across the Institute.

Event timing:

10:45am Pastries and coffee served

11-12:30pm Workshop

“Improv” your boldness and communication skills

Thursday, April 13th, at 2pm.

Develop your communication skills in unexpected situations like a job interview, presentation, or networking event.

RSVP for a highly interactive workshop to learn improvisational techniques that will assist you in being bold in your communication. Engage with fellow students in a supportive and fun environment to:

* Apply improv strategies to enhance communication skills individually and in teams

* Develop comfort in unexpected situations

* Practice using your verbal, vocal, and visual channels of communication

Jake Livengood, PhD, is the Senior Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Services at MIT Career Services (Global Education and Career Development). He is also a graduate of the Improv Asylum Training Center in Boston. Jake has facilitated more than 30 improv workshops for a variety of groups at MIT and beyond.

Want to know more? Check out these article about Jake’s workshops.

– Carpe Careers blog with Inside Higher Ed:

– National Association of Colleges and Employers Spotlight article covering the improv workshops:

– MIT Newsletter article:

Effective Communication In Your Hardest Conversations – Workshop

Tuesday, April 11th at 10:30am

Many graduate women at MIT have expressed concerns about talking to friends, family members, co-workers and acquaintances about controversial or taboo topics. This 2-hour workshop is intended to provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate in the midst of some of the hardest conversations we have.


Your input on this survey will help us to ensure that the workshop is both relevant and engaging. Pleas fill it out ASAP! Responses will be shared only in the aggregate and without attribution.

This workshop will be led by Stacy Heen Lennon. Stacy is a Consultant with Triad Consulting Group. As a negotiation and conflict management trainer, facilitator and coach with experience in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, sub- Saharan Africa, and North America, Stacy’s work spans contexts from supporting consensus building processes to using “sports diplomacy” to foster warmer relations between the United States and Iran.