From Where We Are

“Together We Thrive”: USC women’s conference

The conference connected female school alumnus with current students on campus, elevating and empowering the community.

"A photo of the flyer of the event featuring digitally drawn side profiles of different women standing in a line."

For the first time in its history, USC Women’s Conference went ahead both in-person and virtually this year. Cory Welsh, a USC alumni who graduated in 2011 and helped plan this event as a part of the planning committee, said the event was to involve women globally.

Cory Welsh:” Holistically, the purpose of the conference is to bring women together and build community psychological safety to learn from each other. So it was really important that we do it both virtually and on campus so that anyone who wants to attend can feel included or feel like they belong because not everyone is able to travel. Not everyone is comfortable coming to an event in-person because of the pandemic constraints.”

Not just for getting women together face to face, the conference, Welsh said, was an opportunity for women to share and extend knowledge and the community across the world.

Welsh: “I think that one of the goals is for the conference to encourage women to tap into their charging network and get involved both for themselves in their own, you know, advantages of the community, but also to pay it forward because we have so much privilege from having attended USC. The conference is an opportunity to give back or get inspired to give back.”

All of the speakers at the conference have a background within the USC Community. And speaking of giving back, Ailis Garcia, a USC alumni who founded her company out of her dorm room at USC, was one of the speakers talking about the science of well-being through the lens of relationships.

Allis Garcia: “We’re going to take a closer look at know the importance of relationships and how to connect on a deeper level, especially now that we’re coming out of a pandemic and connecting now more in-person.”

The conference’s in-person aspect has drawn many alumni to come back on campus and connect with other members in the community. Oliva Heinle graduated from Annenberg in 2013 and is now working as the coordinating producer at the TMZ news desk, said she was excited to be back on campus and couldn’t wait to meet new friends.

Heinle: ”I have just been feeling like I haven’t spent enough time at USC as an alumni, and what hooked me was probably the networking aspect of it. I want to grow a stronger community of USC alumni in my circle and especially women.”

Kicking off at 8:30 this morning, the event covers from collecting various women’s professional clothing items for nonprofits to panel discussions and Q&A’s where audiences speak with outstanding women leaders. The message of the day? As President Folt said: “Learn to tell people to be gracious while being firm. Learn to deal with the nuance of what leadership looks like.”

For Annenberg Media, I’m Lutian Wang.

Story edited by Tamanna Sood.