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The WVU Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) empowers and engages women on campus, helping them achieve their full professional potential and form a community within which the participants can initiate valuable new relationships.

Member Spotlight

Sonikpreet Aulakh, MBBS MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine| Translational NeuroOncology| Division of Hematology-Oncology

Read More about Sonikpreet

Celebrating a Milestone: WLI 10-Year Anniversary


Effective leadership is learned, and the WVU Women’s Leadership Initiative helps level the playing field for women regardless of where they started. We focus on the unique needs of women leaders, providing a customized curriculum and hosting professional development, learning and networking opportunities throughout the year. With robust ranks, bold vision and 10 years of history as a guide, WLI is ready to face the challenges of next decade.

In 2022, WLI welcomed 41 new members, hosted national and local women leaders, and recorded its history and impact with a mini-documentary. While refocusing on its purpose, WLI also became the subject of a peer-reviewed article, authored by WLI members Allison Dagen, Lisa DeFrank-Cole, Christina Glance and Julie Lockman.

As we enter our second decade, WLI will continue to focus on relevant leadership enhancement opportunities to help members reach their full potential. Through executive coaching, leadership workshops, networking, capacity building, mentorship and more, WLI’s work will support WVU’s mission and Move the Needle to advance and sustain women leaders within higher education.

To support this work, WLI has created a new endowment fund to help sponsor professional training and development opportunities for faculty and staff. If you are interested in investing in the future of current leaders and those yet to emerge, consider a one-time gift. Just select WLI Women’s Leadership Initiative Fund on the "What would you like your donation to support?" dropdown list.

Alternatively, benefactors may complete the WVU Faculty and Staff Payroll Deduction form Program at Be sure to enter 2W1560, Women’s Leadership Initiative in the “ Fund/Designation - ID or Description” field.

Spring 2023 Calendar of Events

Events are open to all members of the WLI and will be held via Zoom unless otherwise noted on the calendar. Meeting links and details will be sent to members via email.

  • FEB 
    12 p.m. Lunchtime Looks: "On a Personal Note" by Mikylah Myers
    Art Museum of WVU - McGee Gallery (in-person event)

    WLI member, Dr. Mikylah Myers, will explore the exhibition In Concert: Photography and the Violin through her personal connection to the exhibition’s themes and medium. Note that this is a non-ticketed event and no reservation required. Corporation.  
  • FEB 
    2 p.m. My Leadership Journey: Dr. Sharda Udassi
    WVU School of Medicine Associate Chief Quality Officer, Professor-Department of Pediatrics
  • FEB 
    12 p.m. Be Wild, Wonderful & Well with Wonder & Grow
    This presentation will share the importance of managing stress with nature-enhanced mindfulness tools and tips that can be done anywhere to live a thriving life. This interactive presentation will also share practices that support wellness from our perspective as mindful outdoor guides, women leaders, mothers, and family members.
    Kate Reed, Wonder & Grow Co-Founder
    Valerie Hart Warner, Wonder & Grow Co-Founder
  • FEB 
    My Leadership Journey: Dr. Sarah Woodrum
    WVU School of Public Health
    Co-Interim Dean
    Associate Professor

  • MAR 
    Pearls and Perils of Senior Women Leaders in Higher Education

    This panel presentation will feature former senior university women leaders – from both the president and provost levels. They will share their experiences and insights on the (a) need for more women leaders in higher education considering its rapidly changing landscape; (b) high- points and intentional “honey traps” that some women face in their first senior leadership role; (c) crafting the right work contract; and (d) planning your next move and exit plan.

    NOTE: This presentation will not be recorded. Please submit questions to by noon on February 27.

  • MAR 
    5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Leading Through Change and Uncertainty

    Now more than ever, the landscape of higher education is rapidly changing to stay competitive and relevant. Since change is inevitable, what makes it so challenging for most people? Learn about the impact of uncertainty and what is happening in our brains during change that can have a ripple effect among teams. This is a great session for managers and leaders who are feeling impatient or frustrated with the way their teams are operating. We will discuss the impact of leading with compassion during times of uncertainty and share techniques for creating a healthy mindset around change that can move you from resistance to mastery.

    Group Executive Leadership Coaching
    Deb Degner, Leadership Bridge
    Session sign-up details forthcoming.

  • MAR 
    6 p.m. 

    Sonic Bloom: Nina Assimakopoulos and Friends Internationally acclaimed flutist Nina Assimakopoulos celebrated the release of two new CD recordings. This program includes Native American influenced flutes, western flutes, hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa, percussion, piano, film, and dance.

    *Note: This is a FREE, TICKETED event. Reservation required.

  • MAR 
    6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. 

    Embracing Equity: International Women’s Day Panel Presentation,E. Moore Hall Lounge (1507 University Avenue, Downtown Campus)

    Per the International Women's Day (IWD) website: “March 8 is a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.”

    This year’s IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity, and WLI member panelists will discuss ways we can work together embrace equity and advance women leaders in higher education. (Light refreshments will be provided.)

    RSVP required by noon on March 3.

  • MAR
    Road Trip March 9-10 OR 16-17 (Spring Break) Depart: 6 p.m. Next day Return: 4 p.m.
    WLI Private Tour and Presentation, Smithsonian Women’s History National Portrait Gallery

    This private tour is made possible by former WLI member, Ashleigh Coren, who serves as the Head of Education for the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative and the Women's History Content and Interpretation Curator at the National Portrait Gallery.

    WLI reserved three 15-passeger vans from Enterprise, and will sponsor travel to/from the designated meeting location, Holiday Inn: Washington Capitol - Natl Mall. Note: Individuals are responsible for their food and lodging.

    WLI negotiated a lodging group rate of $124 for 3/9, and $164 on 3/16, for those who are interested. Individuals who choose to stay at a different hotel are welcome to ride to/from the designated hotel for this trip.

    RSVP is required by noon on May 1, to indicate your availability. (Final event date determination is forthcoming, and a notification will be sent to WLI members by 2/15.)

  • MAR 
    My Leadership Journey: Bonnie M. Brown
    Director and Teaching Assistant Professor
    WVU Native American Studies Program
  • MAR 
    12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    Discovering and Embracing Your Strengths
    This introductory workshop utilizing Clifton Strengths®, led by Dr. Julie Lockman, was developed for individuals who have not attended a previous Strengths workshop offered by WLI. Participants will have access to take the Gallup Strengths assessment and then attend a 90- minute workshop to begin their journey to understanding their natural talents and strengths. The information gained in this session can be leveraged both in professional and personal settings. (See additional details below.)

    Limited space. Please sign up for this session

  • MAR 
    5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
    How to Work with DIFFICULT and NEGATIVE People

    Have you tried every technique possible to work more effectively with someone and you just can’t seem to move the needle? Do you feel as if a challenging personality is keeping you from being effective or successful? Although we can’t change others, this presentation will offer strategies on ways to increase your influence. These proven strategies for minimizing their impact on you will allow you to return to an approach that reflects a leadership presence grounded in confidence and solutions.

    Group Executive Leadership Coaching
    Deb Degner, Leadership Bridge
    Session sign-up details forthcoming.

  • APR 
    My Leadership Journey: Trina Wafle Assistant Director, Energy Institute Interim Director, National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium
  • APR 
    7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    WLI Annual Networking and Celebration of Scholarship Hotel Morgan 127 High St., Morgantown, WV
    Details will be sent to membership in a separate email.
    RSVP Required by noon on April 10.
  • APR 
    2 p.m.
    My Leadership Journey: Dr. Lynne Cossman
    Dean, Professor, Demography, Sociology
    Please join for a special My Leadership Journey with former WLI member, Dr. Lynne Cossman, who is the founding Dean of the College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP) and Mark G. Yudof Endowed Professor for the Departments of Demography and Sociology.
  • APR 
    5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
    Conversation Intelligence® - - Building Trust Through Conversations Strong teams can deliver exceptional results when they have engaging conversations, trusting relationships, and team members who feel valued and committed. During this discussion, you will learn what is going on in your brain when you have trust and feel connected. You will also learn the significant impact and limitations when fear, uncertainty and stress are present. We then turn this knowledge into power by teaching you how to build trust through conversations. Using interactive group activities, you will practice these tools and create a conversational roadmap that will allow you to build a connection and get the results you want. Participants enjoy learning what goes on neurologically when we connect our worlds through our words.

    Group Executive Leadership Coaching,
    Deb Degner, Leadership Bridge
    Session sign-up details forthcoming

In addition to the (mostly) one-hour Leadership Training and Leadership Networking events, the WLI will continue to support the Graduate Certificate in Leadership Studies 15-credit hour certificate program offered through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Learn more about our presenters


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