Spring 2024 WWHEL Conference

The Critical Case for Collaboration
In this Section

Join us at the 2024 Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership Conference

April 10-11, 2024
UW-Stout, Memorial Student Center
Menomonie, Wisconsin

The in-person conference will start during the afternoon of Wednesday, April 10th and take place all-day Thursday, April 11th. The event will feature keynote speakers and sessions that highlight the importance of collaboration in higher education. The conference will include engaging networking opportunities to connect with colleagues from across the State. There will also be opportunities to learn more about UW-Stout and its distinct Polytechnic mission.

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Registration Information

Please register online
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The conference fee is $125 per attendee. The cost of the conference covers speaker fees, meals, materials, and parking.

Additional Conference Information



WWHEL Attendees are invited to use Lot 27 for parking on Wednesday, April 11- Thursday, April 12. This lot is free to all attendees. Note that free parking is available on campus Wednesday, April 11 after 4pm. 


Parking Map Graphic - Lot 27 - WWHEL Conference

Please refer to the campus map for directions and find your way from Lot 27 to the Memorial Student Center.

Campus Map & Directions

Local Accommodations
Best Western Plus

Direct Booking Link

If calling to make a reservation, please request the WWHEL Room Block. Reserve by March 20, 2024, for block rate.

Front Desk: 715-235-5664
Address: 320 Oak Ave, Menomonie, WI
Distance to Campus: 2.1 miles

Cobblestone Inn & Suites

To book, contact the hotel directly.

Front Desk: 715-233-0211
Address: 149 Main St. E, Menomonie, WI
Distance to Campus: .3 miles (five-minute walk to Memorial Student Center)

Hampton Inn & Suites

Direct Booking Link

If calling to make a reservation, please request the WWHEL Room Block. Reserve by March 1, 2024, for block rate.

Front Desk: 715-231-3030
Address: 2017 Stout St, Menomonie, WI
Distance to Campus: 2.1 miles

Presenter Materials


Wednesday, April 10 - Memorial Student Center - Ballrooms

4:00 PMConference Registration and Informal Networking
5:00-7:00 PMWelcome Reception and Networking *

*Cash bar and hors d’oeuvres will be available at the Welcome Reception and Networking event.

Wednesday, April 10 - 6:00-6:45 PM



Win/Win Speed Networking

Wednesday, April 10 - 6:00-6:45 PM

Teresa Thomas

Win/Win Speed Networking - Session Description

In this fun and highly energizing Speed Networking format, participants are guided to make lots of mutually beneficial connections in a short amount of time.

Teresa Thomas Bio

Teresa ThomasTeresa Thomas is a networking expert and author of Win/Win Networking: Your Guidebook for Confident and Effective Connections and 50 Fun Things: Enjoy the Small Things.

Through her Win Win Connects umbrella brand, she catalyzes meaningful connections for people, possibilities, and purpose. With 25+ years’ experience as a Connector, Teresa has helped thousands to connect and grow through her programs, presentations, and books.

Teresa was named 2019 Women in Business Champion through the Small Business Administration (SBA) of Minnesota and as a 2019 50 Over 50 exemplary leaders by AARP and Pollen.

WIN (Women in Networking) was founded in 2002 and Teresa has led WIN since 2007. WIN has evolved from a local, membership-based networking group to connecting women internationally online and now with a return to in-person networking.

Teresa began her career with a focus on experiential learning in Higher Education and holds a warm place in her heart for working with college campuses.

To expand impact, Teresa is now training other Facilitators to lead using the Win Win Connects programs, tools and support for their own groups and organizations.

Thursday, April 11 - Memorial Student Center - Great Hall

8:00-9:00 a.m.Conference Registration Opens (continental breakfast available)
9:00-9:15 a.m.Conference Welcome
9:15-10:30 a.m.Collaboration Presentation featuring Chancellor Frank and President Beaton-Garcia
10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.Level Up: The Leadership of WE - Ebone' F. Bell 
12:00-1:00 p.m.Lunch and Networking - Memorial Student Center - Ballrooms A,B,C
1:10-2:00 p.m.Thoughts to Actions: Communication Strategies for Effective Collaboration - Becky DeGreeff and Lauren J. Johnsen
2:10-3:00 p.m.Collaborative Intelligence - Emily Laird 
3:10-3:40 p.m.Closing Conversations and Remarks

Thursday, April 11 - 9:15-10:30 AM


Chancellor Frank & President Beaton-Garcia

Collaborating Towards a Stronger Future

Thursday, April 11 - 9:15-10:30 AM

Dr. Katherine Frank - Chancellor, UW-Stout
Dr. Sunem Beaton-Garcia - President, Chippewa Valley Technical College

Collaborating Towards a Stronger Future - Session Descriptio

Today and tomorrow present real challenges for women in leadership roles within public, higher education.  Change is the “new normal,” and change happens immediately and unpredictably.  How do we foster trust in this context?  How do we measure and celebrate success?  How do we 

build longevity within leadership roles and mentor others to lead?  Considering these conditions and questions, collaboration is critical—collaboration among leaders, sectors, stakeholder groups, etc.—as is modeling this behavior for others.  The presenters will share a bit about their personal journeys as women leaders and the foundation of their highly collaborative relationship, as well as reflect on the conditions that call for a new type of leadership and action in today’s higher education landscape.  There will be ample time available for questions and conversation.

Chancellor Frank Bio

Katherine P. Frank became the eighth chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stout in March 2020, after a distinguished career as an administrator and faculty member.

Before her appointment as chancellor, Chancellor Frank served from 2016 in two roles at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., as Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Life and Vice President of Academic Innovation. She also held the rank of Professor of English.

From summer 2014 until spring 2016, she was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northern Kentucky University. Frank served as Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Indiana University East, Chair of English and Foreign Languages at Colorado State University-Pueblo, and a faculty member and administrator of programs involving student writing, faculty professional development, and student success.

Chancellor Frank, the first female leader of UW-Stout, grew up in Colorado and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Bates College, Lewiston, Maine. She has master’s and doctorate degrees in English from the University of Washington, Seattle. Frank’s research interests include Romantic and Victorian English Literature, rhetoric and composition, the scholarship of teaching, and academic leadership. 

President Beaton-Garcia Bio

President Beaton-GarciaDr. Beaton-Garcia is an experienced educator and administrator with a passion for technical education. She holds a Doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University and has spent over 25 years in academia, serving as a professor, department head, and dean.

Dr. Beaton-Garcia’s commitment to technical education is evidenced by her extensive involvement in the development and implementation of innovative curricula that integrate industry-recognized certifications and practical, hands-on training. She has also been a strong advocate for partnerships between educational institutions and industry, facilitating opportunities for students to gain real-world experience and for faculty to engage in innovative practices.

Dr. Beaton-Garcia is a passionate advocate for the community and the College, exemplified through her service on various local, state, and national boards. She is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for students and faculty alike, where innovation, creativity, and excellence thrive.

As President of Chippewa Valley Technical College, Dr. Beaton-Garcia has led the institution through a period of growth and transformation, expanding program offerings, improving student outcomes, and strengthening relationships with industry partners. She has also prioritized the use of technology to enhance the student experience, investing in state-of-the-art labs and classrooms, and implementing online learning platforms to increase access and flexibility for students. Under her leadership, CVTC has been recognized as a military-friendly college and one of the top 150 two-year colleges in the nation by the prestigious Aspen Institute.

Thursday, April 11 - 10:45 AM-12:00 PM



Level Up: The Leadership of WE

Thursday, April 11 - 10:45 AM- 12:00 PM

Eboné F. Bell

Level Up: The Leadership of WE - Session Description

As women leaders we already have the power to make change and lift communities around us. But now, it’s time to level up that leadership in your personal life and within your collaborative spaces.  

From starting as a campus leader to spearheading her own business, Eboné Bell has directly witnessed that leadership doesn’t always demand the traditionally taught skills and qualifications. Her firsthand experience highlights the importance and power of connection when becoming a successful intentional leader. Through conversation and real-world examples, Eboné will share the key traits of intentional leadership, while focusing on important aspects such as recognizing the value of collaboration through belonging and authenticity.  

This keynote is designed to empower participants to enhance their knowledge and connect with the skills needed to embrace intentional leadership and positively impact their campus community. But most importantly, it serves as a reminder that intentional leadership extends beyond individual efforts and encompasses the collective leadership of all. It acknowledges that while leadership begins from within, it is not solely about “me” but rather about the leadership of “we.” Because when WE level up, we all feel empowered.

Eboné F. Bell Bio

Eboné F. BellEboné (pronounced Eb-oh-nay Bell) is the founder and editor of Tagg Magazine, an award-winning print publication and media company for LGBTQ women across the country. She was featured in Forbes Magazine as an "Inspiring Black Entrepreneur Changing Our World." 

And that's exactly her mission: To create change and leave a stamp on this world. One of those stamps includes starting a student group for LGBTQ people of color while attending the University of Maryland College Park. Eighteen years later the group is still going strong. 

Eboné continues to be a dynamic community leader, speaker, and trailblazer. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for diversity issues, activism, and entrepreneurship. When she’s not doing that, she’s focused on self-care, staying hydrated, and living her best life.

Thursday, April 11 - 1:10-2:00 PM


Becky Degreeff & Lauren L. Johnsen

From Thoughts to Actions: Communication Strategies for Effective Collaboration

Thursday, April 11 - 1:10-2:00 PM

Becky DeGreeff & Lauren J. Johnsen

From Thoughts to Actions - Session Description

Women in higher education often hear buzzwords such as “growth mindset” and “cross-disciplinary collaboration” without any guidance on the practical applications of these expectations. This starts with onboarding and continues with the siloing of institutional departments and divisions. This discussion will examine practical communication strategies for more effective collaboration practices to transform these buzzwords into a reality.

Becky DeGreeff Bio

Becky DeGreeffBecky DeGreeff (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at UW-Stout and former Associate Professor at Kansas State University - Salina. Her communication research examines Interpersonal and Family Communication and has focused on women in the workforce, commuter marriages and families, step-families, and spirituality. In her personal life she enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, and practicing yoga.   

Lauren J. Johnsen

Lauren J. JohnsenLauren J. Johnsen (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at UW-Stout and former Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Memphis-Lambuth. Her communication research examines interpersonal and family communication, specifically the confluence of interpersonal, family, and health contexts such as fatherhood and maternal health, expectations of working mothers, and parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her personal life she enjoys reading, listening to television rewatch podcasts, and spending time with her family and friends.

Thursday, April 11 - 2:10-3:00 PM



Collaborative Intelligence

Thursday, April 11 - 2:10-3:00 PM

Emily Laird

Collaborative Intelligence - Session Description

AI is not just a tool; it's a teammate that can transform how we collaborate and innovate. This one-hour interactive session explores the intersection of AI and human cooperation. Attendees will uncover strategies to leverage AI for enhancing team communication, decision-making, and creative processes. By integrating AI, teams can unearth insights, automate mundane tasks, and free up valuable time for critical thinking and strategic planning.

Emily Laird Bio

Emily LairdEmily Laird brings over 15 years of experience in web design, digital automation, and technology, specializing in Generative AI and prompt engineering. Her focus is on AI's practical application in business and industry. In "Collaborative Intelligence," she explores the fusion of AI with human collaboration, offering strategies to enhance team communication and creativity, and showcasing AI's role in redefining digital teamwork.