Davenport University dean speaks at ATHENA Leadership Summit

Davenport University’s dean of the College of Business and College of Technology, Amy Mansfield, participated in the ATHENA Leadership Summit as a panelist on September 20.

During the summit, Mansfield talked about solid habits that women can use to build confidence while pursuing their goals.

The summit was sponsored by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and is part of its ATHENA series, which identifies attributes that reflect women’s contributions to leadership.

Mansfield said ATHENA is a support group that provides a safe place.

“The ATHENA professional development model focuses on building up women in the workplace,” Mansfield said. “It includes networking with other women who can relate and help you along in your journey.” 

The leadership attributes exemplified in the ATHENA model include living authentically, continually learning, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, fostering collaboration, building relationships, giving back, and celebrating. 

This year’s ATHENA Leadership Summit marks the first year the event took place in person since COVID at the University Club of MSU in Lansing and was attended by a sold-out crowd of 130 people. Attendees included women of all ages and at all stages of their leadership journey.

The leadership summit featured opportunities for attendees to network, listen to fireside chats, and hear from various speakers. Panelist members spoke on various aspects of confidence including habits that they practice daily to feel more self-assured, what steps the panelists take to feel more confident, the power of self-talk and affirmation, as well as sharing personal motivational stories. 

During the panel, Mansfield discussed creating habits that cultivate confidence. 

“Don’t listen to what others do to build their confidence, examine what makes YOU confident, and work that into your daily lives,” said Mansfield. “Maybe it’s music, maybe it’s a daily affirmation app, maybe it’s the Wonder Woman pose every morning before you go to work (feet apart, hands on hips). But find YOUR road to building confidence.”

Mansfield went on to say that women are inundated with images of what the “perfect” women should look like. 

“The fact of the matter is, that the vast majority of women will never look like magazine cover girls,” said Mansfield. “To top it off, women in leadership roles are expected to act a certain way; don’t show emotion, be stoic, and have it all together. As I juggled a career with family duties, something always had to give, and it was very difficult to not start speaking negatively to myself.” 

“Women need to stop apologizing! We apologize for things that we didn’t even do. Be confident in your decisions, even if they are wrong, [and] look at those as a way to grow yourself.” 

Mansfield also noted how events like the ATHENA Leadership Summit are critically important toward driving change and empowering women in business. 

Leah Robinson, Director of Legislative Affairs and Leadership Programming for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, thanked Davenport for their participation in this year’s summit and its commitment to women in leadership. 

“Davenport University has been a long-time sponsor of Michigan ATHENA,” said Robinson. “Davenport has generously provided free Certificates of Management for several of our participants, consistently proving that women in leadership matter to the University and the future of our state. The event was fantastic. The energy and support in the room was certainly palpable. Being our first in-person event since COVID-19, we were interested to see if people still had an appetite for in-person connections and we sold out!” 

Mansfield said women need to take the time to participate in programs like ATHENA.

“I would just encourage women to get involved in these types of organizations and events,” Mansfield said. “We are all playing multiple roles – wife, mother, caregiver, with job responsibilities, etc. Without a positive influence, it is very easy to go through the motions. At Davenport, we have an MI-ACE Women’s Network. You will see emails from me with these opportunities. Join in!” 

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce expects to announce more events in 2024 on its Michigan ATHENA page. Those interested are asked to wait for more information in the near future. If you are interested in getting involved in Michigan ATHENA please contact Leah Robinson at leahrobinson@michamber.com


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