On Saturday, March 19, 2022, Newark Board of Education Deputy Superintendent Nicole T. Johnson proudly hosted Embrace. Empower. Elevate. The First Annual Women’s Leadership Conference. The conference was open to current and aspiring women leaders in the district and there were over 350 participants registered. Deputy Superintendent Johnson opened the conference and embraced the women leaders with a powerful message: “You are a wonder woman! We are ALL Wonderwomen!” These resounding words were stamped by Deputy Superintendent Johnson’s charge that she set forward for each woman leader: purpose, mentorship, authenticity.
Special messages were also shared by Superintendent Roger León, Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Board President Dawn Haynes, and renowned women leaders from throughout the country. Superintendent León opened by commenting, “I want to take this opportunity to recognize our Deputy Superintendent for her incredible leadership and her steadfastness with regards to the importance of this very important event.” New Jersey State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz empowered the women leaders with the importance of representation and said, “If you are not at the table, then you are part of the menu.” Keynote Speaker Judge Victoria Pratt, author of The Power of Dignity, elevated each woman leader to know her worth and reminded her that “The question is not who is going to let me but who is going to stop me.”
Breakout sessions allowed the current and aspiring women leaders to choose their path for the remainder of the conference, with session titles such as Leading for Justice through Radical Care, Leading with Your Authentic Story, and Women at the Forefront and Nexus of Change. Throughout the event, all participants engaged with presenters and one another through lively discussions and the conversations continued on social media with the hashtag #NBOEWLConference2022.
In alignment with The Next Decade: 2020-30 Strategic Plan Priority 4: Continuous Learning for All, the Women’s Leadership Conference manifested the district’s investment in the potential and development of highly effective leaders. The conference was a historic event and a meaningful learning experience for women leaders. At the close out of the conference, Deputy Superintendent Johnson stated, “This year’s conference was an opportunity for aspiring and current women leaders to come together in this powerful and collaborative learning environment. The theme this year was intentional and timely. Now, more than ever, we must embrace, empower, and elevate ourselves and one another as we develop skills needed to ignite impact!”