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At Chico State, women don’t whisper… they ROAR. The inaugural “Women Like You” Leadership Symposium gathered the campus community with distinguished female leaders to share stories and discuss topics designed to inspire and empower all. With highlights from our own, Chico State faculty and staff told their personal stories of success and failure, shared their journeys of resilience and rise as a woman in today’s social climate.

“Women Like You” Leadership Symposium

Alex Brown

Vice Mayor, City of Chico

Alex Brown has been an active part of the Chico community since she arrived in 2008 to attend Chico State. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Psychology and Multicultural and Gender Studies, then earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work shortly after. She shares how her path has changed a few times over the years but her values and commitment to serving people has remained the same. Alex’s commitment to Chico is showcased in her activism and initiative to take care of all Chico citizens, especially the marginalized. She is the embodiment of bravery and doing what you are called to do in time of action. Presentation time: 25 minutes | View Now

Alisha Valavanis

CEO & General Manager
WNBA Seattle Storm | Force 10 Sports Management

Alisha Valavanis graduated Chico with a B.A. in Journalism in 2000 and her Masters in Physical Education in 2004. Since then, she has blazed a trail through the sports industry as a business woman and received many well-deserved accolades, including the 2016 Chico State Distinguished Alumni Award. Valavanis led a rebuilding effort resulting in the Seattle Storm winning a third WNBA Championship in 2018. She highlights the fundamentals to creating strong teams; trust in your team and have a true appreciation for everybody on the team to show up and be exactly who they are. Her main teammate, and actual twin, was not able to attend the presentation but Alisha shares anecdotes regarding the challenges they have faced over the years. Presentation time: 16 minutes | View Now

Ann Sherman

VP of Business and Finance
CSU Chico

In January 2019, CSU, Chico named Ann Sherman Vice President for Business and Finance and Chief Financial Officer. Although she is new to Chico, her compassion and love for helping our community is transparent. She shares two stories telling of her hardest physical and emotional moments. The first takes place 10,232 feet in the clouds of Bhutan, Ms. Sherman is hiking towards the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. She thinks she is going to have a heart attack but persists while thinking her family’s Finnish concept of sisu. She then shares the life-changing moment of when one of her three sons tragically passed away in a car accident. Ms. Sherman has been challenged to a great extent but she has embodied sisu by choosing to move forward with life. Presentation time: 15 minutes | View Now

Martha Andrade McLemore

Clinical Supervisor

Martha Andrade McLemore was born and raised in Mexico and migrated to the US when she was 15. She is now a licensed clinical social worker and has been working with underserved families in Butte County for the past ten years. Her talk is centered on her upbringing as a Latina and what would have been expected if she stayed in Mexico. She has worked extremely hard and accomplished so much since she moved to the US. Martha obtained her Bachelors and Masters from CSU, Chico and is currently a student at Sacramento State earning her certificate in Pupil Personnel Services. She found her voice over the years through the women who uplifted her. Her advice for the women in the room is to be curious, ask questions, and help others along the way. Presentation time: 15 minutes | View Now

Cassandra J. Archega

Student
CSU Chico

Cassandra Archega is a first generation Latina and the only student on the Women Like You panel. She is filling in for a mentor but represents the majority of women in the room as a student. Her Chico State story is centered on her time working at the Cross Cultural Leadership Center (CCLC). A source for students to create an environment in which all members, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, or differences, feel respected, connected and affirmed. Her upbringing as a Mexican American has become a large part of Cassandra’s identity and the resilience she exudes today. The CCLC has a community of like-minded people who support and protect women of color like Cassandra. Presentation time: 26 minutes | View Now

Nevertheless, She Persisted

Dr. Gayle Hutchinson
President, CSU, Chico

CSU, Chico President Hutchinson Walking at GraduationIn her presentation Nevertheless, She Persisted, CSU, Chico President Gayle Hutchinson shares with us the particular challenges, disappointments, and lessons of strength and resilience that have helped shape her life and career.

With a finely balanced blend of strength and vulnerability, Dr. Hutchinson describes physical difficulties that tried and still try to get in the way of her goals. She details social challenges and discrimination that led to feelings of isolation and rejection—but she persisted despite them. These adversities and challenges have served as learning moments for Dr. Hutchinson, crystallizing her own resilience and resolve. These challenges honed her determination, and helped her set goals and learn from failures. Through them, she resolved to persist and be true to herself, and has acted accordingly, working to help others as they live out their own journeys. Presentation time: 13 minutes | View Now

A Leadership Journey

Dr. Chela Mendoza Patterson
Associate Vice President for Student Life, CSU, Chico

Decorative Only: Dr. Chela Mendoza Patterson, Associate Vice President for Student Life CSU, ChicoIf you ever see Chela Mendoza Patterson’s Dear World photograph, you will see three words that underscore Dr. Mendoza Patterson’s attitude and ethos: “Live With Passion!” Dr. Mendoza Patterson is the Associate Vice President for Student Life at CSU, Chico, and her goal for herself and for others is to follow life’s passion, whatever it is. She encourages others to live the life that they want to live, and to not live within the constraints of others’ expectations.

She has devoted her life’s work to education and to “opening the door for others,” ensuring that students have the opportunities that she had. Opportunities did not always come easy for her, but she credits her successes from generations of familial dreams, persistence, and the support of her mentors. She is proud to be where she is today, helping others to achieve their educational goals, and being a mentor, and opening doors of opportunity for others so that they may live the passionate lives they desire to live. Presentation time: 19 minutes | View Now

Of Black Dolls, Storybooks, and Telephone Calls: The Women Who Prepared Me to Lead

Dr. Tracy Butts
Interim Dean, Humanities and Fine Arts, CSU, Chico

Decorative Use Only: Image from women who prepared me to lead presentationTracy Butts, CSU, Chico’s Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, is a strong woman in a position of power; and she’s careful to check that this power is always used positively, justly, and well.

The journey to become Dean was not always one that Dr. Butts would have predicted for herself, but in retrospect, through stories and interactions, she sees that she had been carefully prepared for this position through many steps on her life’s journey.

Dr. Butts recognizes four influential women who guided her personally and educationally, teaching her the importance of positivity, advocacy, representation, poise, and professionalism. Through these lessons on self-worth, identity, and scholarship, she honors those women who helped prepare her for the gravity and joy that come along with her position as Dean. Presentation time: 14 minutes | View Now

Authenticity, Assumptions, and Fit

Dr. Debra Larson
Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, CSU, Chico

Decorative Use: Image from Authenticity, Assumptions and Fit PresentationAthlete. Student. Mom. Engineer. Administrator. Breast Cancer Survivor. Friend. Problem-Solver. CSU, Chico Provost for Academic Affairs Deb Larson carries these identities with her, and explores the assumptions that are made about us based upon the traits and roles with which we identify ourselves, and the ramifications that these assumptions can bring with them.

Dr. Larson shares how others’ assumptions affected her at critical times in her life and development, and how she reacted then and now. Though others’ perceptions and assumptions about Dr. Larson affected her childhood, her education, and her career, the message that she gives to her audience is clear: Be cognizant of others’ assumptions, but do not let them stand in your way. Focus your energy on living your true life and pursuing your true, authentic self. Presentation time: 14 minutes | View Now

Dancing with Confidence

Jamie Clyde
Associate Director, Associated Students, CSU, Chico

Decorative Use: Image from the Dancing With Confidence PresentationShe has lived in tropical Hawaii, bustling Las Vegas, and among the stunning redwoods, but has always called Chico “home.” Jamie Clyde, Associate Executive Director for Associated Students is hardworking, successful, and strong by any definition. But her childhood struggles made success feel very far away. Her father’s struggle with substance abuse and her fellow classmates’ bullying and constant name-calling left her chafing against the labels that others had given her—and secretly wondering if they were right.

Through goal-setting and constant pushback against what others said and thought about her, Ms. Clyde developed a fighting, fiery spirit that has become her ally in success and business. Now, she uses that fighting spirit at CSU, Chico, helping others overcome their own struggles through confidence and work experience. Presentation time: 17 minutes | View Now

Resist Today, Persist Tomorrow

Aurea Bolanos Perea
M.A. Candidate, Chico State Department of Political Science; President, Council of Graduate Students, CSU, Chico

Decorative Use: Image from the Persist PresentationAurea Bolanos Perea identifies herself as an immigrant, a feminist, and a scholar—but she is so much more. Ms. Bolanos Perea challenges the audience to think about the identities and the words that have been used to describe them, and to realize deeply, fundamentally, that each of us are more, and we must harness that sense of true self to build the life we want to live.

In recognizing the expectations that others have of us, it could be easy to live someone else’s plan or expectation for our own lives. But Ms. Bolanos Perea urges us to resist the temptation to follow those expectations, instead taking the more difficult path of building paradigms for ourselves. Her enthusiasm for the genuine self is the clarion call that she conveys: persist to fight each day for own lives, dream for our own futures, and actualize our true selves. Presentation time: 17 minutes | View Now