Women's Leadership Forum


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APRIL 28

South San Francisco Conference Center | CPE 7.00 (Non-technical)

Join CalCPA Education Foundation and other exceptional women in northern California for this highly popular conference. Year-after-year, this event sells out because attendees walk way empowered, motivated and equipped with information to help propel their careers. This year, in the spirit of innovation, our speakers will deliver topics that redefine success with unique perspectives. Be a part of the next generation of revolutionary change and leadership that thrives.

The networking luncheon features our annual Women to Watch Awards which recognizes outstanding women for their inspiring contributions to the profession and their communities.

8:00 a.m. Networking Breakfast

8:45 a.m. Welcome with Chrislynn Freed, CPA (Leventhal School of Accounting, University of Southern California) and Jodie Rolih, CPA/CFF (Hemming Morse LLP)

9:00 a.m. The Credibility Code with Cara Hale Alter (SpeechSkills, LLC)

  • Identify the specific “codes of conduct” that influence the perception of credibility
  • Cultivate leadership presence
  • Develop a powerful speaking voice
  • Strike a balance between authority and approachability
  • Avoid unintentional behaviors that may lower your status

9:50 a.m. Break

10:00 a.m. Celebrating Successful Women in the Industry Panel with Chrislynn Freed, CPA, Moderator (Leventhal School of Accounting, University of Southern California), Kim Ondreck Carim (San Francisco Ballet), Somya Chauhan, CPA (Google Inc.), and Deborah Messemer, CPA (KPMG LLP)

  • What are the lessons you have learned on your career path?
  • What advice do you have for young professionals in the audience?
  • How can women help one another through their careers to achieve greater success together?
  • What do you envision the future of women in the profession to be?
  • What specific barriers did you have to break through to get where you are today?
10:50 a.m. Break

Concurrent Session:

11:00 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Dirty Little Secrets with Eva Nitta (Ernst & Young, LLP), Deborah Perry Piscione, and Patti Cotton,MA, MAOD, PCC (Cotton Group LLC), Coco Brown (The Athena Alliance), and Nancy E. Sheppard (Women2Boards)

  • The Power of Negotiation
  • Having an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Playing positive office politics
  • Landing a Corporate Board Seat

Gamifying Success with Rebecca Pomering (Moss Adams LLP) and Jana Wright, CPA (Moss Adams LLP)

  • Career success in an evolving "gaming" world
  • Positioning yourself for success in a multigenerational workforce
  • Everyday behaviors & strategies to get a seat at the table
  • Building your personal brand, authentically

12:05 p.m. Break

12:15 p.m. Lunch/Women to Watch Awards

1:35 p.m.  Break

1:45 p.m. Pursuing Equity for California's Women with Senator Hannah Beth Jackson (District 19, State Capitol)

  • The California Fair Pay Act, how this landmark law came to be and the efforts to ensure meaningful implementation
  • Leading the way, authoring the country's first affirmative consent law, strongest equal pay law, and inclusive family leave policies
  • A committed champion, the decades long fight for gender equity in education, equal pay for women, workplace opportunities, child care, and family leave

2:35 p.m. Break

Concurrent Session:

2:45 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

They Just Don’t Understand: How to Read and Respond to Any Audience with Deborah Shames (Eloqui)

  • Tools to persuade others to your point of view
  • Better approaches based on the latest cognitive science research
  • How to quickly read, respond to, and engage any listener
  • How to be nimble in negotiations, pitches or debates

Selling is Not a Swear Word with Ann Marie Houghtailing (Ann Marie Houghtailing, Inc.)

  • How to redefine your relationship with selling
  • How to ask with elegance
  • Why you need to understand that you aren't merely selling a product or service


3:35 p.m. Break

3:45 p.m. Creating a Supportive Network with Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA (Xero Inc.)

  • 5 lessons learned from women leaders
  • How to empower men and women to build an infrastructure that helps women thrive
  • Establish a track to leadership
  • Awareness of key business skills needed to succeed in Sales, Marketing and Client Service

4:35 p.m. Break

4:45 p.m. Mentor, Sponsor, Coach: How to Identify, Cultivate, and Use These Strategic Partnerships Effectively to Help You Reach the Top with Patti Cotton, MA, MAOD, PCC (Cotton Group LLC)

  • What’s the difference between a mentor, sponsor, and a coach?
  • When and why do you need them and why do you want more than one of each?
  • The importance of filling your strategic network with these important relationships
  • How you can become a mentor or sponsor for others
  • How to up-level your career by cultivating these relationships and leveraging them for your future in business and leadership

5:35 p.m. Adjourn