Past Attendees – Simmons Leadership Conference


Elizabeth Volpe
Ph.D. Student
Civil and Coastal Engineering

Adrienne Widener
Ph.D. Student
Biomedical Engineering

“I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the 2023 Simmons Leadership Conference.
I had the opportunity to meet and network with so many strong women leaders. The conference topic of renewal and focus on resilience was particularly impactful as it helped educate and encourage me, as a woman early in an engineering career, to persevere in the face of adversity. The speakers, such as Masih Alinejad, Gloria Estefan, Carla Harris, and Amy Purdy, left a lasting impression on me. They all shared the wisdom they had gained in facing various challenges throughout their careers and lives.

It was inspiring to see such strong and successful women. I learned the importance of being authentic, building relationships and being trustworthy, growing your own power as a leader and empowering other women, and being courageous in sharing innovative ideas.
I came out of the conference as a much more confident leader than before and feel more motivated to speak up and share my ideas in research, engineering, and leadership positions.”
– Elizabeth Volpe, Ph.D. Student, Civil, and Coastal Engineering, 2023 Attendee

“I really enjoyed my time at the Simmons Leadership Conference 2023 in Boston. The topic of the conference was renewal and innovation, with speakers such as Gloria Estefan, Masih Alinejad, Amy Purdy, and Carla Harris. The conference was a great networking event, where I was able to speak with women leaders from entry-level positions all the way to CEOs. There were also people from all fields, broadening the discussions and sharing experiences with all attendees. I really appreciated the talk by Amy Purdy, a double amputee and Olympian. She spoke about how sometimes the setbacks and challenges that we are given in life will open greater opportunities for us in the future. I was especially grateful to connect these experiences to the concepts I learned in the College of Engineering and the Leadership Insitute. It was an experience that has changed my perspective on what it takes to move forward, that dreams are forever changing, and challenges are opportunities that we may not realize yet.”
– Adrienne Widener, Ph.D. Student, Biomedical Engineering, 2023 Attendee


Arianna Partow
Ph.D. student
Agricultural & Biological Engineering

“The Simmons conference was such a valuable and unforgettable experience for me. Hearing from many strong and great women leaders, such as Simone Biles and Luvvie Ajayi, to name only a few, was very impactful. The theme of courage was brought up many times in this conference as how possessing the courage to speak up makes a great leader. It takes a lot to stand up for something you believe in or bring up uncomfortable issues, and these speakers presented ways to go about having the courage to lead and speak up. In addition, this conference emphasized how important it is to make people feel comfortable and create a safe working environment for everyone. Overall, this conference taught me many lessons and gave me great advice that has positively impacted my leadership development. I learned many skills from this conference that will be applied in the future.”
– Arianna Partow, Ph.D. Student, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, 2022 Attendee

Jessica Aldrich
Ph.D. student
Biomedical Engineering

“First, attending the Simmons Leadership Conference was a privilege, and I’m thankful that the ELI was willing and able to support my attendance. Although it was all virtual, I appreciated that I could go back and watch sessions I missed and re-watch sessions that I thought were interesting. One of the biggest takeaways from the conference was the idea that we could be creative within leadership. Creativity isn’t taught very effectively in school and, in leadership, it feels like we are often told that there are right and wrong ways to lead – but this conference reminded me that there could be an element of playfulness and flexibility in leadership that help you adapt to situations and to the people you are leading.
The other big takeaway that I had is that while leadership does require responsibility, and it’s not something to be taken lightly, there is the element of being human that we often forget about. Seeing women in various positions talk about strengths and weaknesses in their leadership journeys was motivating because it reminded me that no leader is perfect.”
– Jessica Aldrich, Ph.D. Student, Biomedical Engineering, 2022 Attendee


Keisha Castillo-Torres
Ph.D. student
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Victoria Morgan
Ph.D. student
Agricultural & Biological Engineering


  • Samantha Roberts, Ph.D. student, Chemical Engineering
  • Brittney Lane, Senior, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering