OWN IT, a student initiative that aims to connect students with women in leadership in leadership, announced last Wednesday that it will host its second annual OWN IT Summit March 28 in Gaston Hall. Over 50 speakers and an expected 800 attendees, 400 more than at last year’s summit, are anticipated to attend.
The summit was founded in 2013 with the mission of bridging the gap between college-aged women and professional, industry-leading women by hosting a series of panels and workshops.
OWN IT, which was housed within the Georgetown University Women In Leadership last year, is now working independently with guidance from the university’s Office of Communications.
This year, the summit will expand in both size and scope. The first OWN IT summit took place in the Lohrfink Auditorium with 400 attendees and 30 speakers.
Last year, tickets for the summit sold out in one day, despite the fact that a list of speakers had yet to be released. Tickets for this year go on sale Feb. 13 on OWN IT’s website.
According to Summit Co-Founder Helen Brosnan (SFS ’16), this year’s summit will feature a variety of changes including a new format. Brosnan declined to comment on the speakers, which will be announced in the upcoming months.
“We are changing the format by trying to include a few more fun elements in the day — some performances, and a few surprises that you’ll see as it gets closer,” Brosnan said.
The summit will also see the addition of non-industry specific panels in an effort to highlight the overlap of professionalism and success between industries. To do this, the panels will be organized by the four themes: inspiration, image, innovation and impact.
“Those are our four themes for our four panels,” Brosnan said. “[This] allows us to have cross-industry, more stimulating conversation. Women across fields have a lot of similarities.”
Despite several changes to its format, the core goals and values of this year’s summit remain the same, according to Director of Speakers Allyn Rosenberger (COL ’17).
“The main theme is really to bridge the gap between women in leadership positions and the millennials who admire them,” Rosenberger said. “All too often we are faced with powerful women talking to other powerful women, and that really isn’t very inspiring to us college students. This is a way to challenge that and make female leaders and leadership events much more accessible.”
Georgetown University’s OWN IT Deputy of Logistics Sarah Clements (COL ’18) said she promises that the summit will also retain its emphasis on creating a similar tight-knit environment from last year.
“A criticism that often comes with these types of events that bring together powerful people is that they end up talking in circles to themselves — other powerful people,” Clements wrote in an email to The Hoya. “OWN IT is going to be different. Speakers and students alike are ‘participants’ and we hope to build an environment through small breakout sessions and even smaller ‘office hours’ where both speakers and attendees are learning and building from each other.”
Brosnan said that they will also work to create an even more friendly atmosphere at the conference this year.
“We got a lot of positive feedback from last year about the level of comfort that people got at this event,” Brosnan said. “We tried our hardest to make it feel like you were walking into a room of potential friends, and that’s something that we’re trying to hammer home this year as well. Even though you’re in a huge venue, you’re still surrounded by 800 girls and industry leaders who want to talk to you.”
Summit Co-Founder Kendall Ciesemier (COL ’15) said that student interest and involvement in the summit has increased significantly since last year, as planning stages began last September.
“We have an awesome team,” Ciesemier said. “From freshmen to seniors, we have gotten more people involved this year.”
Due to the success of last year’s OWN IT Summit at Georgetown, other schools have expressed interest and have begun plans for their own summits. According to Ciesemier, Washington University at St. Louis, Boston College and Howard University have reached out to OWN IT via Facebook or email after the success of the summit last year.
“We [co-founders] decided that we wanted to bring this amazing event to our campus because we didn’t feel that there was an event that encapsulated all the aims of OWN IT. There are plenty of leadership events for the females of a specific academic school or sponsored by alumni, but we felt the campus was lacking a student driven initiative of women empowering women,” Ellen Kaushansky, co-chair of the Summit at Washington University St. Louis wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Ciesemier and Brosnan have been helping these schools develop their own OWN IT programs.
“We give them a guide book to help them structure this and figure out what the best tactics are,” Brosnan said. “We also help them with logistics, how to build a team, a website, and the best ways to reach out to people. They do a lot of work by themselves though, [as it is] very much what works for their school.”
Kiana Knolland, the OWN IT Summit ambassador at Howard University, said that she was inspired by Georgetown’s inaugural conference.
“The incomparable work they’ve done on Georgetown’s campus is absolutely remarkable and I am excited that OWN IT is expanding to Howard University,” Knolland wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“Never has it been more important for women to confidently move in the direction of their career dreams and unapologetically embrace their strengths and imperfections. Our main objective is to inspire the young women on our campus and to connect them with women who understand their journey and plight.”
Rosenberger said that she is honored that other schools have expressed an interest in replicating the summit.
“The fact that we have spread to three other schools is my favorite bragging point when it comes to talking about the summit,” Rosenberger said.
“The fact that young women at other schools want to help us spread our message is amazing. It makes me even more proud to be a part of the planning team.”
According to Brosnan, each school’s summit will retain its own uniqueness.
“We don’t think we should have carbon copies of the same summit,” Brosnan said. “[Working with other schools] is a nice way to unite similar forces together. Why all work against each other when we could all be working with each other?”