Regular Hours, Summer 2022

Summer Hours: May 23 – July 29, 2022: Monday – Thursday 8:00am – 4:30pm, Friday 8:00am – 12:00pm

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2021 Women's Leadership and Empowerment Conference


Thursday, October 28, 2021


Main Campus—Tama Hall

Map and Directions

2021 Women's Leadership and Empowerment Conference

This one-day leadership conference is a unique opportunity for women from different industries and background to come together to discuss issues facing women in business and how we can support one another for a successful and brighter tomorrow.





Register online or call 319-296-4290.

COVID-19 Safety Protocol

Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for all of our guidelines and protocols.


8:00–8:30am Check-in and breakfast
8:30–8:45am Welcome/Introductions

Empowering Women to Be Their Best Selves in Leadership
Lisa Schaefer, John Maxwell Certified Coach

Women make up about half of the workforce, but only a small fraction holds leadership positions. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is holding me back from becoming my best self?”  Have you often wondered if you were enough?  Are you letting your inner dialogue keep you stuck?  It’s time to lean in to your awesomeness. This is an interactive, discussion-based learning session, with questions relating to experiences from women in leadership. As we discuss the importance of overcoming imposter syndrome, we will discuss ways to be more assertive, and to gain confidence in your strengths so you can become your best self in leadership! 

10:00–10:15am Break 
10:15–11:30am Continuation of Empowering Women to Be Their Best Selves in Leadership
11:30am–11:45am Break 
11:45am–12:45pm Lunch and Interview with local entrepreneur, Chelsea Kaller, Health, Fitness and Life Coach

Hear You Roar, See You Soar
Sarika Bhakta, Certified Diversity Executive

Unleash the authentic diverse leader in you! We are all diverse and can lead at any level at all phases of our lives. This presentation will inspire attendees of all ages to self-reflect on their purpose, values, relationships and what they want their legacy to be as we explore the 3Cs (cultural chains, corporate chains, and community chains). How one should courageously “roar” to reinvent oneself to lead authentically, especially in the face of adversity. When you can be your unique self, it emboldens you to empower others while modeling the way to “soar” as a change agent making impact in your life, school, work and global community. Hear you roar, see you roar!

2:30–2:45pm Break 

Breakout Sessions

Building your Passion into a Business
Amy Dutton, Director, Small Business Development Center, UNI; Donna O’Brien, Owner, Bambinos Cookies

Thinking of taking your passion to the next level? Considering starting a business? This informal session will put you in a room with people who have lived it, done it, and helped others do it! Join Amy and Donna to get your questions answered and leave ready to take your next step.

Not One of the boys: Navigating Challenges of Predominately Male Industries
Panel: Susie Hines, Emissions Certification Engineer, John Deere; Amber Youngblut, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice President Human Resources, Geater Machining & Manufacturing; Samantha Hardy, Office Manager, QC|Plastics

Get insight on how to overcome gender bias and misperceptions that can occur when working in a predominantly male industry.  Our group of panelists are currently employed within the community.  These women will offer advice, feedback, and strategies to bring your authentic self to work.

Who Me? Imposter Syndrome Lessons Learned
Dr. Celina Peerman, Organizational Psychologist  

Despite experience, education, and resources, why do we hesitate?  Why don't we feel like we are the qualified one to speak up, out, and to something we know well?  Whether it is in a meeting, a project, promotion or your next job, understanding imposter syndrome sooner will help you overcome the obstacles it can create.  Come renew your confidence, focus, and pick up new tools in this session that clearly send imposter syndrome packing...permanently.

4:00–4:30pm Closing remarks/Evaluations

Presenters and Facilitators

Lisa Schaefer, John Maxwell Certified Coach

Lisa Schaefer is a John Maxwell Certified Coach, trainer, and speaker. Lisa is an expert in behavioral coaching, organizational psychology, and customer service success strategies, and has served as a professor, staff development professional, and counselor. Her experiences include working for Walt Disney World, and hosting on-air radio programs, as well as more than 15 years of education, corporate training, and executive coaching experience. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and marketing from the University of Wisconsin.

Her goal is to help participants have fun while learning why we do the things we do. Her biggest passion is asking questions to learn as much as she can from others. Lisa loves to make people laugh and believes if everyone just smiled more, the world would be a better place.

Chelsea Kaller, Health, Fitness, and Life Coach

Chelsea Kaller is the owner and founder of Chelsea Kaller, Inc. A company dedicated to helping women learn to love health and fitness and build routines that actually last. She was tired of seeing women flip their lives upside down for the confusing, quick fix, or all or nothing health and fitness mindset.

In 2018, Chelsea determined her corporate job wasn’t fulfilling her want to help as many women as possible find freedom in their health and fitness journey, so she made the decision to quit and start something of her own. She created what is now called the Damn Happy Damn Healthy Fitness Membership and a business that supports women searching for their happiest, healthiest and most confident selves. Every woman’s version of #damnhappydamnhealthy looks different, it's truly about living life unapologetically on their terms.

Sarika Bhakta, Certified Diversity Executive

A Certified Diversity Executive, visionary leader and entrepreneur, Sarika was born in Gujarat, India and raised in the American Midwest. Adjusting to the American culture was extremely challenging for Sarika, inspiring her life’s mission of helping people identify their authentic self to be successful change agents and leaders in today’s ever-changing global economy. She has over 20 years of experience empowering diverse talent and population groups to maximize their leadership potential while increasing their cultural competency and global perspective.

Prior to launching her consulting firm, Sarika worked in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors across the US, with several entities who had significant international presence. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and trainer due to her high energy and interactive and inspiring style.

Amy Dutton, Director, Small Business Development Center at the University of Northern Iowa

Amy Dutton is a Certified Business Advisor and an Economic Development Finance Professional. In her work with the SBDC, Dutton focuses on helping startups, entrepreneurs and existing small businesses thrive across the center’s nine-county service area. With a background which includes leadership roles in customer service, marketing, operations and general management, she brings a unique perspective to clients facing a myriad of challenges.

A Cedar Valley resident for over 25 years, Dutton has been involved in numerous community groups including many years on the board of the Society for Human Resource Management and over 15 years of work with the Cedar Falls Tourism Bureau. She is an alumna of the Waterloo Courier’s Top 20 Under 40 and has received the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award.

Donna O-Brien, Owner, Bambinos Cookies

Bambinos founder Donna O’Brien was diagnosed at age 45 with Stage 3 Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer on November 17, 2008. During her cancer battle, Donna O’Brien turned to her kitchen to help others. Combining her Italian heritage, her love for baking and her passion for helping other women fighting breast cancer, the cookie stack was born.

From the beginning, Bambinos has gifted a portion of their proceeds to the Beyond Pink Team, a local non-profit organization providing financial support for breast cancer patients and their families in need of assistance.

Twelve years later, Bambinos continues to bring delicious joy to customers while giving back to an organization doing so much for women. Together we are making a difference! Donna also continues in her role as Customer Relations Manager for Martin Bros. Distributing where she has been for 34 years.  She is grateful for both opportunities that allow her to help others.

Susie Hines, Emissions Certification Engineer, John Deere

Susie Hines life journey leading up to her family’s arrival in Iowa in 2006, traversing five states and ten household moves, has provided her the opportunity to accumulate a richly diverse background in advertising, technology, philanthropy, higher education, and now agriculture/engineering. She holds a master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University and a bachelor’s degree in communication/theatre arts from Heidelberg University. Susie is a passionate volunteer for education and community. Currently, she is serving as a two-term elected school board member and booster club president. Susie has also recently joined the Cedar Valley Women United board.

Amber Youngblut, Vice President Human Resources, Geater Machining & Manufacturing

Amber Youngblut is a human resources professional with more than 15 years of experience, her areas of expertise include management; staff development; technology integration; diversity and inclusion; and strategic project management. 

She has a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from the HR Certification Institute and Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) from the Society for Human Resource Management. She is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, with a master’s degree in Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and Music.

Samantha Hardy, Office Manager, QC|Plastics

Samantha Hardy is the Office Manager for QC|Plastics, in Independence, IA. My husband David bought the company 5 years ago and here we are, with a small force.

I've taken several leadership and management classes to strengthen my skills but nothing quite prepares you for leading a group of Millennial men! Life was much simpler when I was only in charge of my own schedule and work for sure, but being a manager in a men's workforce brings it's own interesting aspects and ways of thinking which make it much more exciting! 

Dr. Celina Peerman, Organizational Psychologist

Dr. Celina Peerman serves as an organizational psychologist with over 25 years of experience from front line to senior level positions, in a wide range of industries and organizations. She is passionate about engaging our human resources in innovative ways to achieve even better organizational results.

While she does some traveling for nationally and internationally, Celina is focused on helping Iowa first. Making sure we are well prepared to recruit and keep the best people and companies right here is priority. Celina’s passion is for how people behave at work; the good, the bad and the worst.  Her style has been described as dynamic noting the ability to draw in even the most resistant attendees through real life examples and humor.

Celina lives in Waverly with her husband David of 27 years and two teenage daughters, and a really needy dog. 

2021 Steering Committee

Molly Burdess  - Bradford Companies
Boualay Crow - Meyer Pharmacy
Nicole Eicherberger - Jiva Salonspa 
Staci Kramer - Hawkeye Community College Corporate & Business Solutions
Lisa Kremer - Buchanan County Economic Development
Christi Mason, Steering Committee Chair - Hawkeye Community College Business & Community Education
Karla Organist - UNI Institute for Decision Making 


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