In 2015, UMass Lowell inaugurated Jacquie Moloney, a national pioneer in higher education innovation, to become the first woman to serve as chancellor in its 123-year history. Moloney — a longtime advocate for women’s empowerment — initiated the Women’s Leadership Conference in 2016.
That conference was such a success that this year’s event planners anticipate an equally inspiring and impressive gathering of women. The second annual conference will be held on June 20 at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center in Lowell, Mass.
“UMass Lowell plays a unique role as a convener of people learning from each other,” says professor Elizabeth Altman of UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business, one of the conference organizers.
“This [year’s] conference is a great way to bring together members of the greater Merrimack Valley region to talk about women’s leadership,” she says.
The 2017 theme, “The Power and Potential of Women,” will provide opportunities for women to enhance their strengths, share what they know, and network with others. According to event planners, the overarching vision for the conference is that all women take their rightful place as leaders in the world while also achieving balance in their lives.
Balance is no small feat, and to address that goal, there are four conference tracks to choose from:
Track A: Lead, Empower, Inspire
Track B: Succeed in Business and Entrepreneurship
Track C: Promote Holistic Health & Financial Well Being
Track D: Cultivate Career Development Skills
Among the most interesting facets of this event, says a UMass event organizer, will be the diversity of speakers. Representatives from the business world and the nonprofit sector as well as entrepreneurs and women in government will be in attendance. The one-day conference is open to the public and designed to appeal to women at every career level and in every field of endeavor.
Moloney will open the conference and will be followed by the morning keynote speaker, Bonnie Comley, a 1981 UMass Lowell graduate. Comley is a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer who has also worked in film and television.
In 2010, UMass Lowell honored Comley with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Comley and her husband, Stewart Lane, received a Champion of the Arts Award from UMass Lowell in 2015. The campus’ Comley-Lane Theatre is named in their honor, as is the Comley-Lane Artist-In-Residence program.
Comley is the CEO and co-founder of BroadwayHD.com, an online streaming service that extends the reach of Broadway and Broadway-caliber shows. On June 30, 2016, Comley & BroadwayHD made history with the first live-stream of a Broadway show, sending it to more than 60 countries.
The afternoon keynote speaker at the conference will be Therese Gearhart, president of the Coca-Cola Latin Center Business Unit. Gearhart coordinates activities in 31 countries across the Caribbean, Central America, Ecuador and Colombia. She also co-chairs Coca-Cola’s Global Women’s Leadership Council and has 28 years of international experience in general management, marketing and sales.
“UMass Lowell is a world-class research and teaching university undergoing substantial growth and expansion,” Altman says. “This event — a collaborative effort of the faculty and staff — is a wonderful opportunity for us to share our excitement about our university and showcase UMass Lowell’s top-notch faculty members.” It’s also an opportunity to be a resource to local community leaders — and aspiring leaders — and to promote women’s leadership.
( Top of page: UMass Lowell graduate and TV personality Taniya Nayak, center, takes a question from the audience while Chancellor Jacquie Moloney looks on during the opening session of UMass Lowell’s first-ever Women’s Leadership Conference in 2016 at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. Nayak, who earned a business marketing degree at UMass Lowell, has built a successful career as an interior designer while also appearing on shows on HGTV, ABC and the Food Network, as well as serving as brand ambassador for Ellen DeGeneres’ home decor line. Speakers at the conference also included humorist and author Gina Barreca, EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum and former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Murphy, who now heads the WAGE Project. Photo by John Wren for UMass Lowell. )
Online registration is open at
The regular registration fee is $199.
UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center