Session Details

Challenge Shmallenge - We've Got This: Women Paving Their Own Way

#MPD5 Management and Professional Development Track

Room 106B


“I think women hold back. And they can’t. If you are following your passion, if you are doing what excites you, you’re doing a great job, recognize yourself.” -Valerie Jarrett,  senior advisor to the president and assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs .

Did you know that women make up half the U.S. workforce but represent only 25 percent of the tech industry and lead only 8 percent of startups? And even though women obtain the majority of college degrees they represent just 15 percent of all senior management positions? Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, recently said, “Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishment comes at a cost.” Regardless of gender, one can’t help but wonder why.

Join women currently working in Higher Ed for an in-depth and empowering conversation moderated by Karine Joly, executive director at Higher Ed Experts, as together we explore the challenges women face in the workplace including work/life balance, politics, the skills that can help us succeed, the culture we must adapt to while also working to change, personal and professional expectations and the importance of educating those around us to continue pushing forward when everything is telling them to stop.



Karine Joly
Executive Director, Higher Ed Experts

Karine Joly founded Higher Ed Experts, an online professional school for people working in universities and colleges. Joly oversees the development of the curriculum and teaches the 8-week online course on social media marketing for higher ed. She also authored and taught a few sessions of the capstone graduate course of the MBA in Social Media at Southern New Hampshire University.

Joly blogs at, authors the Internet Technologies column of University Business and writes periodically for other publications (University Affairs, CASE Currents, etc.). She is often invited to speak at leading higher ed web conferences (HighEdWeb, CASE, American Marketing Association, UB Tech, eduWeb, CUPRAP, etc.).

Alana Riley
Associate Director of Web Design & Social Media, Providence College

Robin Smail
Renegade Element, UX Lead, Firebrand Tribe

What is there to say about Robin2go? She is loud. She is a chewy center of enthusiasm, wrapped in a shiny candy coating of laughter. She has an uncanny ability to build community around her just by walking into a room. She's notorious in higher ed, as inescapable as her red hair, favors authenticity and transparency over political correctness, and can tie any lesson to a Firefly quote.

Colleen Brennan-Barry
Asst. Director, College & Community Relations, Monroe Community College

Colleen Brennan-Barry is the assistant director of college and community relations in charge of Web and digital communications at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. Brennan-Barry is vice president of the Higher Education Web Professionals Association and also serves as the HighEdWeb annual conference marketing and attendee relations chair. 

Tonya Oaks Smith
Director of Communications, UALR William H. Bowen School of Law

Tonya Oaks Smith (@marleysmom) has spent most of her adult life smoothing frayed edges, herding wet and hungry cats, breaking down silos and perfecting the #facepalm –- all while dancing backwards and in heels with a big smile on her face. A former reporter who sold her soul and then redeemed it by moving to communication for a public university, Smith is a fan of the words “y’all” and “malheureusement” — not necessarily in that order, and prefers the em dash to commas. She’s currently the director of communications for the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law. In this role, she manages the communications, marketing and public relations strategies of the law school in accordance with its mission, objectives, directives and policies. In 2010, she completed her master’s degree in applied communication studies.

Mallory Wood
Director of Marketing, mStoner

Mallory Wood brings five years of marketing, digital, and undergraduate enrollment experience to mStoner. At Saint Michael’s College, Mallory worked in the Office of Admission and the Office of Marketing and Communications. Mallory developed St. Mike's social media strategy, produced web video, and worked with student ambassadors to engage future students on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social channels. Mallory currently manages mStoner's marketing and business development activities and oversees and Mallory has presented at a number of conferences including HighEdWeb, Penn State Web Conference, NEACAC, and SUNYCUAD and has been a guest and a guest host on HigherEdLive.

Lori Packer
Web Editor, University of Rochester

Lori Packer is responsible for the design, maintenance, and content strategy for several central University websites, including the University’s homepage and news site. Packer is also part of the design and editorial team for Before coming to higher ed, Packer was the lead U.S. editor for MSN Search — Microsoft’s pre-Bing search engine — and received a master’s degree in communications from the University of Washington. She is currently working toward her MSLIS from the iSchool at Syracuse University. She has served on the HighEdWeb organizing committee since 2003. She is a Phillies fan, a beer snob, and an insomniac, and she blogs sporadically

Magen Tracy
Asst. Director for Online Marketing and Social Med, Berklee College of Music

Magen Tracy is the Asst. Director for Online Marketing and Social Media at Berklee College of Music. She worked previously in marketing/promotions at Live Nation New England, and holds degrees from Brown University and Emerson College (MMA). Tracy is a regular speaker on social media and gender issues, and is an active musician in the Boston area and volunteer for Girls Rock Camp Boston.

Georgy Cohen
Director of Online Content, Suffolk University

Georgy Cohen is co-founder of Meet Content, a blog and resource that aims to empower higher education to create and sustain web content that works. She is also principal at Crosstown Digital Communications, a firm committed to helping educational institutions more effectively tell their stories online, and has worked at Suffolk University and Tufts University. Cohen is a frequent speaker, writer and consultant on topics relating to web content and digital communications.

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