2021 Conference

2023 Conference Attendees

The Way Up XXXIV Conference

"The Power of  Women on The Way Up: Not Done Yet!"

For over thirty years, women in the State of Iowa have hosted The Way Up Conference to assist women in higher education institutions as they continue to develop their leadership and administrative skills and expertise. The conference has always been designed to provide value for presenters and participants as well as networking opportunities for all.

Per the CDC, Johnson County and Hyatt guidelines, The Way Up Planning Council is working closely with the Coralville Hyatt Conference Center to provide measures for a safe environment for The Way Up Conference, including the recommendation that attendees, especially non-vaccinated and vulnerable individuals wear masks, social distancing when possible, increased sanitation of facilities and hand sanitizer stations throughout the event location.  We respectfully ask that anyone feeling sick or experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms and anyone diagnosed with or directly exposed to COVID not attend the event.

See these links for more information:

Additional information for Johnson County

Specifically, The Way Up Conference will feature:

  • Larger meeting rooms and networking spaces at the conference
  • Doubled space for the General sessions and breakout rooms
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols and sanitation in guest rooms and conference spaces
  • Hand sanitation stations throughout the facility
  • Daily hotel entry and cleaning of guest rooms only by request

Thursday, November 4, 2021

 Book Table & Other Vendors
 Continental Breakfast
Welcome: Conference Planning Committee

Keynote Speaker

Julie Keehner
CEO, Keehner Consulting LLC

"The End to Toxic Work Environments: How we as Women Leaders Must Engage"

10:45-12:00pmContributed and Invited Sessions I
 Recognition Awards
 Scholarship Awards
1:45-3:00pmContributed and Invited Sessions II
3:15-4:30pmContributed and Invited Sessions III

Complimentary Social Hour; Cash Bar

Silent Auction

Entertainment:   Cabaret by KCC singers: Cabaret of Songs by Women Composers



Banquet Speaker

    Dr. Georgina Dodge
    Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Maryland

    "She ain't heavy, she's my sister:" Moving forward and leaving no womxn behind"

Silent Auction winners announced

 7:30 - ??? pm

Friday, November 5, 2021

7:30-8:30amBreakfast Buffet
8:45-10:00amContributed and Invited Sessions IV
10:15-11:30amContributed and Invited Sessions V

Closing Speaker

Dr. LaDrina Wilson
Vice President for Student Service, Black Hawk College

"Empowered Women Empower Women"

1:30pmConference Completed
7:30-8:30amBreakfast Buffet

The 2021 Way Up Conference will be held at Hyatt Regency Coralville Hotel and Conference Center, in Coralville, Iowa  (formerly the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center) 

You may wish to view the Coralville Hyatt Regency website.

The Hyatt is a 100% smoke-free facility. See the hotel front desk for information about any outdoor smoking areas.
The Coralville Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center offers free wireless Internet access throughout the conference center.

Parking - On-site parking; fees: $1 hourly; $8 daily

See the Lodging Link for the conference rate for guest rooms.

Hyatt Regency Coralville Hotel & Conference Center
300 East 9th St.
Coralville  Iowa  52241 

The 2021 Way Up Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Coralville Hotel and Conference Center, Coralville, Iowa.   (formerly the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center)
You may wish to view the  Coralville Hyatt Regency website.

A limited block of rooms is reserved at the Coralville Hyatt Regency Hotel for both the Wednesday and Thursday nights of the conference week. 

To make your reservations, you may visit the Hyatt Regency Coralville Hotel website:
   Use the group code   G-WAYU   (if requested) to make your  reservation.

Rooms are only $109 night through October 20, 2021.

Note: The $109 rate is also available for Friday, November 5 for a  "Shop Til You Drop" special rate for The Way Up conference attendees.

The Hyatt Regency Coralville Hotel and Conference Center offers free wireless Internet access throughout the conference center.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

9:45-10:30 am  Opening Keynote Speaker:

 Julie Keehner
CEO, Keehner Consulting LLC

'The End to Toxic Work Environments: How we as Women Leaders Must Engage"

Many of us have worked in what is now referred to as ‘toxic’ work environments.  We know it when we see it, but oftentimes wonder what we can do about it, especially when toxicity has become part of the culture of the institution.  Thankfully, we as women leaders, can address toxicity and make a real difference in promoting healthy work environments that contribute to greater satisfaction, higher productivity, and more positive experiences for the students we serve. This keynote address will discuss the real difference and meaningful contributions we can make in today’s institutions of higher learning.



12:00-1:30 pm   Lunch


The Way Up Scholarship and Recognition Awards:

* Carol Rocklin Kay Memorial Scholarship
* Eunice A. Dell Memorial Scholarship
*“Iowa Community Colleges Support The Way Up” Scholarship

* Recognition Award

5:30 - 7:30pm   Evening Banquet with Dinner Speaker


Dinner Speaker

Dr. Georgina Dodge
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Maryland

"She ain't heavy, she's my sister:" Moving forward and leaving no womxn behind"

As we break through, jump over, and navigate barriers, how might we forge trails that other womxn can follow? Even as we focus on pursuing our own careers and lives, how can we create inclusive spaces for the womxn around us? We are all aware of the fractures, both historical and contemporary, that mark the feminist and women's movements and dilute our collective power. It is time to focus on how we, as womxn and leaders, can hold different perspectives and opinions but still move forward together.
Click here for the presentation.


Friday, November 5, 2021

11:30 - 1:30 pm Lunch

Closing Speaker:

Dr. LaDrina Wilson
CEO, Iman Consulting  (formerly Vice President for Student Services, Black Hawk College)

"Empowered Women Empower Women"

The journey to leadership can be a lonely road to travel, particularly for women.  This keynote address will examine the importance of making meaningful connections, being a conduit to success for others, and blazing a trail for the women currently working alongside you and those in the pipeline who aspire to follow the path to leadership. 

Thursday, November 4

10:45 – 12:00      Contributed and Invited Presentations I 

Charting a Future Course: Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education

    Dr. Brent A. Gage, Ph.D., Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, University of Iowa

A significant change is on the horizon for institutions of higher education as significant demographic shifts occur beginning in 2026. With a shrinking population of traditional age college students, how will institutions respond, who will succeed and who will struggle. This presentation will present the research of Dr. Nathan Grawe within the Iowa context as institutions plan for the future.


Women and Higher Education Leadership: A Story of Commitment, Perseverance, and Friendship

    Dr. Jennifer Bradley, Vice President, Academic Affairs, Kirkwood Community College
    Colette Atkins, Associate Vice President- Career and Technical Education, Kirkwood Community College
    Dr. Brooke Strahn-Koller, Associate Vice President, Liberal Arts, Kirkwood Community College

Women continue to be underrepresented in higher education leadership roles and as they advance within an institution often find themselves in the position to help or hinder their female colleagues. This session will provide insight into the professional journey of three colleagues and friends at the same institution who successfully negotiated internal politics, job applications, and promotions to become the leaders within their division and the college. Presenters will examine the lack of women leaders through both research and storytelling. Attendees will walk away with a toolbox full of ways to support their individual professional growth and also support the growth of their fellow women colleagues.


100 Years of Women's Leadership: Lessons from Suffrage to Today

    Karen M. Kedrowski, Director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

This session will recount some of the major events of the Suffrage movement, and draw parallels to women in politics and higher education today.  Click here for presentation.

Working with Students in Distress

    Barry A. Schreier, Ph.D., Director of The University Counseling Service, University of Iowa Counseling Center; Professor of Counseling Psychology, Iowa College of Education; University of Iowa

The "Working with Students in Distress Workshop" is designed to help Staff and Faculty respond to students in distress. It's our experience that faculty and staff want to help students in distress, but struggle with right words and best approaches. The "Workshop" is designed to provide language and practical skills to help Staff and Faculty navigate challenging interactions. The "Workshop" provides the signs of what distress looks like, ideas of what to do and what not to do, and simple language to assist with having the confidence to act when a student is struggling.  Your response may be a conversation with the student, a phone call to the counseling center, or a referral to one of the many offices and people who work with distressed students every day. Regardless, we want you to know that you are never alone. We're partners in the work of helping students in distress find understanding, support, and campus services.


1:45 – 3:00        Contributed and Invited Presentations II

 Incivility in Education

    Dr. Jane DeGooyer, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Mercy College of Health Sciences

This session will explore various aspects of incivility in education including:
o    Definitions
o    Behaviors of incivility
o    Contributing factors to incivility
o    Negative effects of incivility
o    Impact of incivility on the learning environment
o    Strategies to manage incivility and create a positive environment

Leadership for Innovation

    Judi Eyles, Director, Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and CyBIZ Lab, Iowa State University
    Ana Luz, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, College of Design, Iowa State University

Innovation, change and transformation - all are seen as vehicles to solve many challenges. Institutions are increasingly investing in such efforts to stimulate and support innovation and entrepreneurship, with robust innovation agendas. Where do you start when it comes to building an innovation engine? How do you lead for innovation? This session will describe many colors of innovation in academic institutions and effective leadership and communication required from planning to execution of the innovation-driven growth.

Cultivating Justice: A Quest Toward Racial Equity

    Danielle McGeough, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Media and the Artistic Director of the Interpreters Theatre, University of Northern Iowa

In January 2021, the University of Northern Iowa launched the program Cultivating Justice: A Quest Toward Racial Equity. This 6-week program moves participants through a collection of projects and resources (i.e. essays, videos, performances, story circles, artwork, creative writing, podcasts, and toolkits) made by and for people in the Cedar Valley to acknowledge how systemic racism is affecting our communities and to transform and heal together. In this interactive session, panelists will explore practical strategies for creating and implementing a program to join the university and the community together in promoting racial justice and activating systemic change.

An Approach to Developing a Student Affairs Assessment Plan

    Erica Spiller, Assistant Director of Student Development, Des Moines Area Community College

This session will walk through the process Des Moines Area Community College used to develop their Student Affairs Assessment Plan using the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) as a guide. Included in the presentation will be information about the early stages of the planning process, department and program self-assessment guides, implementation strategy, collaboration with academic affairs, and integrations with the college-wide strategic plan and balanced scorecard.


3:15 – 4:30        Contributed and Invited Presentations III

 Student Engagement: Learning Environments & Connecting Students to their Education

    Dr. Robin Shaffer Lilienthal, Provost, Marshalltown Community College

As the world spent the bulk of the past two years in virtual environments, creating engaging spaces for learning on campus is an important element for bringing students back to the classroom. This session will illustrate best practices for reimagining educational spaces--both in and out of the classroom-that connect student learning and success with peers and faculty.  Click here for the presentation. 

Transformational Leadership:  Supporting a Shared Vision

      Rhonda Pennings, Northwest Iowa Community College

Throughout this presentation, transformational leadership will be defined and the characteristics of transformational leadership will be explored.  We will discuss the hallmarks of effective transformational leadership as validated by transformational leadership research. The top seven tasks of transformational as described by Pielstick (1998)  1) creating a shared vision, 2) communicating the vision, 3) building relationships with others, 4) developing a supporting organizational culture, 5) guiding implementation, 6) exhibiting character, and 7) achieving results will be examined. By being aware of these tasks, leaders should be able to increase their job performance and create a more positive working environment that emphasizes participation and strong relationships with others. Participants will also be encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences in the area of transformational leadership.


Addressing the elephant in the room: Crucial conversations

    Chrystal Stanley, PhD, Director, Professional & Career Development Services, Drake University

Tough work conversations can send folks running for cover, or out the door.  According to research, 37% of people consider quitting rather than having "the talk". An equal percentage avoid the conversation by dancing around the topic, and 6% call in sick to delay it! Let's be honest, the idea of having a difficult conversation with a colleague or supervisor is terrifying, however there are positive steps you can take to spot a crucial conversation, manage it well and strengthen and engage your team. This interactive session will focus on:
"    Recognizing a crucial conversation
"    Common causes and reactions, and
"    Proactive and positive strategies for having the conversation
Click here for the presentation. 

Holistic Student Readiness: Are we preparing students with the necessary essential skills for a changing workforce market?

    Danielle Ebaugh, Career Services Supervisor, Kirkwood Community College
    Lexi Fields, Career Services Coordinator, Kirkwood Community College

With a changing workforce market, as well as an increase in the use of technology are we preparing our students in a holistic way for true career success? In this session we will define holistic student readiness, discuss how the workforce market is changing and what employers are expecting in a future workforce. We will also offer ideas for how educators today can provide opportunities for holistic career readiness to their students.


Friday, November 5

8:45 – 10:00       Contributed and Invited Presentations IV

What Now? A candid conversation centered around faculty return to the classroom post pandemic

    Kendra M. Ericson, Ph.D., RN, President, St. Luke's College

The session will include dialogue, faculty stress level assessment, and workplace recovery to support the transition back to the classroom.  Click here for the presentation. 

Lessons Learned from Successful Professional Mentoring Programs

    Erin Lee Schneider, Assistant Dean for Student Services, Drake University Law School

Mentoring 101: Lessons Learned from Successful Professional Mentoring Programs.  What makes a professional mentoring program successful?  How can mentors and mentees participate in a meaningful way that brings value to the relationship for both parties? How is the mentor/mentee relationship different than other types of professional relationships? Session participants will explore the answers to these questions and come back to their institutions with materials to them in creating or strengthening a mentoring program.   Click here for the presentation. 


Stretched Too Thin Revisited: The Power of Creating a Support System at Work

    Jennifer Cunningham, Dean, Arts and Humanities, Kirkwood Community College
    Mindy Thornton, Director, Linn County Regional Center, Kirkwood Community College
    Bobbi Miller, Associate Dean of Students, Kirkwood Community College
Stretched Too Thin returns to the 2021 conference with new insights and new strategies.  Joined by fellow Kirkwood colleagues Jill Davis and Bobbi Miller, Mindy Thornton and Jennifer Cunningham have created Kirkwood Women Connect.  This internal organization is inspired by workshops and conferences like the Way Up and creates cross-campus connections to empower, mentor, and develop women within the organization.  Kirkwood Women Connect has created a community that supports women both professionally and personally in the organization. This session will cover how we put what we have learned through our professional development experiences into action, strategies to create systems of support within your campus community, and how creating a recognized support system has led to more communication and collaboration.

Rooted in Respect: Creating a welcoming and supportive reporting environment for workplace harassment

    Bailey Asberry, Title IX Coordinator, Grinnell College

The majority workplace trainings and new employee orientation sessions focus on policies, laws, and employee expectations and do not adequately equip the campus community with the tools to respond when faced with or witnessing harassment.  Hear how Grinnell College has combined Title IX, Active Bystander, and Implicit Bias training to educate and strengthen our community response to harassment.


10:15 – 11:30      Contributed and Invited Presentations V

 Considerations for finding, adopting, and supporting OER use in Higher Ed

    Emily McWorthy, Instructor, Kirkwood Community College

Many higher education institutions throughout the country are encouraging the implementation of Open Educational Resources (OERs). This session will discuss best practices for finding, adopting, and supporting OER use from administrative, instructional support, and faculty perspectives for attendees of all experience levels with OERs.

The Road Less Traveled: Paths to Higher Education Leadership

    Dr. Jennifer Cunningham, Dean Arts and Humanities, Kirkwood Community College
    Lynn LaGrone, Provost, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Hawkeye Community College
    Dr. Zoe Thornton, Assistant Professor of Practice- Higher Education, Iowa State University

There are a number of different paths that get one to higher education leadership.  There is no "right way" on the journey to leadership, and the path may have unexpected twists and turns. Hear from three women who took very different paths to their current roles in higher education.  From the news room, the orchestra stage, and community initiatives, learn how their passion for higher education evolved and changed over time to get them to where they are today.


Self-Care versus Superwoman: When do you remove your cape?

    Glenda Bundy, Board Certified Integrative Nurse Coach, Time Mind Life

Many women subject themselves to overwhelming schedules and unreasonable expectations, in turn leading to stress, burn out and often physical ailments.  How do you create a balance between doing what you love, achieving goals, and taking care of yourself?  Self-Care is an activity done deliberately to take care of mental, emotional, and physical health.
In this session, participants will:
"    Understand the benefits of self-care
"    Examine strategies to promote and facilitate life balance
"    Participate in a short meditation session
"    Discuss the psychological impact of being a superwoman
Click here for the Self-Care presentation.   Click here for the Mindfulness Presentation. 


Advocacy 101 -  Student and Professional Pathways Toward Equity and Equality

    Jeanette Thomas, Education Consultant for Equity, Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Career and Technical Education

    Dr. A’ndrea Wilson, Assistant Professor and the Braida Endowed Chair of Creative Writing, Grand View University 
    Heather Jones-Brown, Director, 20/20 Vision Project
    Dr. Mary Chapman, Vice President Emeritus, Des Moines Area Community College

Women in higher education have been forced into a new world of teaching and learning in virtual platforms post COVID19; bringing to the forefront many inequities in education.  In addition, recently passed legislation may impact how we engage and interact with students in the classroom.  This panel of advocacy experts will provide guidance and direction on how women in education can be heard; what is our role as advocates; and how best to navigate through these challenges and engage the right stakeholders in order to preserve dynamic and inclusive learning environments for all students.

The following four scholarships and awards will be presented at The Way Up Conference.  Click the links for more details about each recognition:

The Way Up Conference Thanks You for your Sponsorship!


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Delta Dental

Mission Statement: Delta Dental of Iowa is dedicated to improving the health and smilesof the people we serve.

Iowa Coordinating Council

The Iowa Coordinating Council for Post High School Education is composed of representatives of the Presidents and Trustees of public and private colleges and universities in the State of Iowa. In addition, the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, the Iowa Department of Education, and Iowa Public Television are members.

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University of Iowa

Mission: In pursuing its missions of teaching, research, and service, the University seeks to advance scholarly and creative endeavor through leading-edge research and artistic production; to use this research and creativity to enhance undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, health care, and other services provided to the people of Iowa, the nation, and the world; and to educate students for success and personal fulfillment in a diverse world.

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Iowa State University

Mission: Create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place. We must prepare the leaders of our nation and the world. To make the world a better place, Iowa State will call upon its great strengths in student-centered education, global collaboration, and transformational basic and applied research. Iowa State will lead in developing more sustainable ways to produce and deliver safe and nutritious food, water, materials, and energy; integrate the protection of plant, animal, and human health; and care for our environment. We will design tools and infrastructure that will create entrepreneurial opportunities. The major changes sweeping the world are creating extraordinary opportunities for Iowa State to capitalize on its land-grant mission and be at the forefront in addressing our common, global challenges.

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University of Northern Iowa

Mission: The University of Northern Iowa provides transformative learning experiences that inspire students to embrace challenge, engage in critical inquiry and creative thought, and contribute to society.

St. Ambrose University

St. Ambrose University — independent, diocesan, and Catholic — enables its students to develop intellectually, spiritually, ethically, socially, artistically and physically to enrich their own lives and the lives of others.


Coral Ridge Mall

Lindale Mall

The Amana Colonies

The Old Creamery Theatre

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch

Cedar Rapids Museum of Arts

African American Museum

Czech Village

New Bohemia

New Bohemia City Market

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Brucemore Historical Site

The Carl & Mary Koehler History Center

Indian Creek Nature Center & Trails  (Cedar Rapids)

Paramount Theatre - Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

Iowa Veterans Affairs Health Care System

University of Iowa

Hancher Auditorium - University of Iowa

Iowa City/Coralville

Cedar Rapids

Cornell College

Kirkwood Community College

The Hotel at Kirkwood

Mt Mercy University

Other Attractions like these may be found at



Multi-Day Events:

Brucemore Mansion Tours

2160 Linden Drive SE; Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403 

Explore over a century of Cedar Rapids history through the lives of the three families who called Brucemore home-the Sinclairs, the Douglases, and the Halls. They were business and community leaders during a century of evolution in the Midwest. An investigation of the mansion's Queen Anne architecture, 1925 Grant Wood Porch, 1929 Skinner pipe organ, and 1930s Grizzly Bar and Tahitian Room reflect the history of remarkable people. The changes they made to their estate, the impact they had on their community, and the stories they left behind shape our understanding of modern Cedar Rapids, eastern Iowa, and the American Midwest.


The Old Creamery Theatre - 2021

2021 Road Shows... Stay tuned for the complete schedule!

Additional Attractions

Devonian Fossil Gorge

Coralville Lake Visitor Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; 2850 Prairie Du Chien Rd. NE; Coralville, IA 52240
The Coralville Lake Visitor Center features exhibits on the history and natural resources of the Coralville Lake area. Visitors will find actual fossil specimens from the Devonian Fossil Gorge (removed for preservation) and other exhibits depicting the local plant and animal life of the area on display.   A 15 minute movie about the Devonian Fossil Gorge and the Floods of 1993 and 2008 is available for viewing upon request.

Old Capitol Museum

The Old Capitol Museum seeks to educate the university, local, and national communities on the continuing significance of the humanities, as an invigorated and distinguished building that serves as a center of culture and civic discourse for the State of Iowa, through public outreach initiatives, educational programming, exhibitions, and academic scholarship.

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History

The mission of the University Of Iowa Museum Of Natural History is to inspire in visitors of all ages understanding and a sense of wonder, discovery, respect, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds through exhibits, educational programs, and collections, as well as through linkages with UI research and activities.

Bender Pool

Bender Pool is an indoor pool, open year-round. The pool is disabled-accessible and is equipped with a hydraulic chair and sloping steps in addition to traditional pool ladders. The pool also has a slide and a basketball hoop. Bender Pool's locker rooms are equipped with showers, hair dryers, electrical outlets, baby changing tables, and 25-cent coin lockers.
940 14th Ave. SE ; Cedar Rapids, IA  52403

Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery

Cedar Ridge is a family owned winery and distillery nestled in the countryside between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. We produce 16 award-winning wines, many from our own grapes as well as 11 small batch spirits including Iowa's first bourbon. Wood-fired pizzas, prime rib and local meat and cheese appetizers available.
1441 Marak Road; Swisher, IA  52338

Air Fx Trampoline Park

Much of the AirFX 12,000-square foot facility is covered in trampolines. Guests can defy gravity while playing basketball, dodge ball, and performing the coordinated exercises of high-energy AIRobics fitness classes. Catch your breath while putting across the well-lit, outdoor 18-hole miniature golf course. Or keep the adrenaline pumping with a few rounds of Lazer Frenzy, where mirrors, haze, and webs of laser beams make you feel like you're in a movie. Stop by the snack bar for some Perky's Pizza, chicken wings and churros, washed down with your favorite beverage.
1100 North 18th Avenue; Hiawatha, IA  52233