Elevating women in higher education to new levels of personal and professional success

September 20, 2019 | Cleveland, OH




›››››  2019  ‹‹‹‹‹
By Wisr


HIGHER is a series of free professional development summits designed to equip women in higher education administration with the tools, relationships, and confidence to thrive personally and professionally. These one-day experiences take a step towards diversifying leadership in higher education.

While women tend to find equal representation in lower-level managerial roles, top positions in higher education leadership fail to represent the movement toward a more diverse and inclusive future. It’s time for that to change.

Women In Higher Ed-01

Presidents at US colleges and universities

All women (30%)
Women of color (5%)
Men (70%)



The opening workshop will have you reflecting on key themes, turning points, and people in your career. After discovering what those experiences reveal about your values, a partner exercise will help you reimagine how you can be your best self at work, at home, and everywhere in between.




Hear from women who hold senior leadership positions about their personal journeys. What did they wish they’d known at key milestones in their careers? What advice would they give to their younger selves? Learn how these outstanding women overcame barriers to reach where they are today.




After uncovering the biggest barriers women face, this interactive session will empower each attendee to design a plan for reaching their next major goal, whether it's an individual career ambition or a program for creating change on campus. 










"I can't believe this was free. Well organized, thoughtful structure. So many opportunities to engage and hear from one another."
"Overall very enlightening and empowering. Great atmosphere. Beautiful place and easily accessible. Also, this being free is insane and amazing. Why wouldn’t someone want to come?"
"Perfectly organized, well-thought out activities, opportunities for networking, and inspiring conversation. Thank you for this great opportunity!"
"Great opportunity to meet other women in higher ed and network and problem solve. Thank you."
"I was truly impressed with this summit and I will encourage all women in higher ed to attend!"
"It was so inspiring to be among fellow women in higher education who have faced some of the same issues I am facing and learning from them."
"This opportunity allowed me to connect with other people who share some of my identities to talk about important issues that affect us and that is so important for us all to do!"




Alfreda Brown  

Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Kent State University


In the fall of 2009, Dr. Alfreda Brown was appointed as the first vice president for the division of diversity, equity and inclusion for Kent State University.  The new division was created as an integral part of the excellence agenda at Kent.  Its mission is to promote diversity, equity and inclusion across all eight Kent State campuses.  Dr. Brown joined Kent State after serving 21 years in various positions at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) including three years as interim chief diversity officer.  She served 16 years as a senior administrator to the institution’s president, chairing the Commission for Promoting Pluralism and several diversity councils, implementing and coordinating efforts that let toward a multicultural campus. She is a strong advocate for strategic planning and outcomes-based assessments to facilitate evidence-based decision making and continuous improvement of diversity initiatives.

Alfreda’s broad experience derives from a heartfelt purpose: to make a difference in the lives of others. This includes grassroots mentoring of individuals and underrepresented groups, to teaching service leadership courses at RIT and abroad, while leading and implementing change relative to diversity and inclusion in both university and community wide programs and policies. Alfreda has served on several boards in leadership positions while in the Rochester area such as: Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley; Rochester Rotary Club; The National Kidney Foundation; Board of Directors for Pre-Trial Service Corporation; Workforce Diversity Network, and The Advocacy Center to name just a few.  She is a member of Leadership Rochester Class of 1995 and The Greater Rochester United Way African American Leadership Development Class of 1996. Alfreda served a one-year term on the Kent City Schools Steering Committee, a three-year term on both the Executive Board for the ACE Ohio Women’s Network and the Board of Trustees for Our Lady of the Elms in Akron. She currently serves on the Kent Social Services Board, UH Portage Foundation Board, the Executive Board for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, the Board of Directors for the League of Women Voters in Kent, Ohio, and the League of Women Voters Ohio State Board. She is also a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2012.

Alfreda has responsibility for the executive leadership and management of Kent State University’s diversity and inclusion matters, leading strategic diversity planning for the university and ensuring successful implementation of related policies, programs, and projects. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management from Roberts Wesleyan College, a Master of Science degree in Career and Human Resources Development from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education Administration from Nova Southeastern University.


Stephanie Levenson  

Vice President for Enrollment Management at John Carroll University


Levenson, a higher education enrollment management leader with more than twenty years of experience in undergraduate recruitment, marketing, and financial aid strategies, previously served as the Executive Director of Admissions at Elmhurst College (Elmhurst, IL). Her achievements include increasing the average first-year class size by 160% over an eight-year period, and recruiting the largest incoming class of first-year and transfer students in the College’s history.

Levenson also served as Senior Assistant Director of admission for Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, Illinois), where she coordinated admission for international students in Europe and Asia, in addition to managing all aspects of recruitment in Chicago and New England.

An experienced presenter for higher education forums, Levenson is also a graduate of the Enrollment Leadership Academy of the College Board, a selective professional development program designed for admission and financial aid professionals who are committed to advancing the field of enrollment management.

Levenson holds a Master of Education degree from Loyola University Chicago and Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Kate Volzer  

Co-Founder & CEO at Wisr


As a former first-generation college student, Kate is extremely passionate about improving educational outcomes for college students across the country. After working in Admissions and Career Services for the University of Chicago, Kate became interested in how technology can be used to support student outcomes. She returned to Northeast Ohio as VP of Business Development at DecisionDesk before founding Wisr in 2016. Wisr improves student and alumni engagement outcomes by facilitating alumni- to-student coaching and alumni-to-alumni career networking. In 2017 Wisr was recognized as most innovative education solution by Global Silicon Valley & Arizona State University.

Kate is heavily involved in Cleveland’s entrepreneurial community as the Chair of the JumpStart Leader’s Council. She has been recognized by WYCA Cleveland as a Distinguished Young Woman and Crain’s Cleveland as a Notable Woman in Entrepreneurship. Kate was a captain of the varsity volleyball team at the University of Chicago, where she received her BA and MBA. She was born and raised in Hartville, OH, and now resides in Rocky River. When she’s not working on building Wisr, Kate is probably spending time on Lake Erie, playing with her dog, or enjoying good conversation over a glass of wine.

Date, Time, & Location


The summit will take place on September 20, 2019 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM in Cleveland, OHWe'll gather at Key Tower in Downtown Cleveland. 

Materials & Meals


We provide all the materials you'll need in addition to a light breakfast, a catered luncheon, and an afternoon snack. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options will be available.



The agendas for HIGHER summits vary to accommodate the special programming unique to each, but most follow the same general format:

8:30 AM — Check in

9:00 AM — Welcome and kickoff

9:30 AM— REFLECT Workshop: gain insights and map your future development through a personal inventory of your defining experiences

11:00 AM — Break

11:15 AM — INSPIRE Speaker Session: learn what senior leaders wish they'd known at key milestones in their careers

12:00 PM — Lunch and networking

12:45 PM — Introduction to resources

1:00 PM — INSPIRE Speaker Session: learn what senior leaders wish they'd known at key milestones in their careers

1:45 PM — Break

2:00 PM — ACT Workshop: identify solutions for the top challenges facing women in higher ed through an interactive workshop

3:20 PM — ACT Workshop: design an action plan for reaching your next big career goal

3:50 PM — Resources and feedback

4:00 PM — Closing remarks



Who is HIGHER for?  ▾

This is an event for ambitious leaders, aspiring bosses, and community-builders. We welcome women in faculty and staff positions across all departments to join us. Due to high demand, we can only offer seats to women who are currently employed at an institution of higher learning. HIGHER attendees represent a variety of higher education institutions, including liberal arts colleges, research institutions, community colleges, and everything in between.

Can I invite my colleagues?  ▾

Yes! In fact, several leaders at a past summit used the event as an opportunity to reconnect with and invite peers they’d met at previous conferences, bond with new team members, and strengthen relationships with leaders across their campuses. To ensure you get the most out of the day, we recommend that your team's VP or Director joins for the day. Anyone who wishes to attend is required to register.

Can I attend HIGHER more than once?  ▾

Our goal is to reach as many women in higher education as possible to support them in reaching their professional goals. To help us do that, we ask that if you'd like to attend again, you bring a colleague or peer at another institution who has not attended before.

Will this feel like another big box conference?  ▾

Absolutely not. We believe that the most impactful development experiences come when you have the chance to build relationships with everyone in the room, talk candidly about the challenges that are keeping you up at night, and brainstorm solutions together. You can’t do that if there are 500 people in the room. Each HIGHER summit is intentionally capped at 50 attendees to allow for that close-knit, collaborative environment.

How much does it cost to attend?  ▾

We believe that women benefit greatly from coming together to share their experiences and lessons. To make HIGHER as accessible as possible, attendance is free for all registrants. Your registration includes programming, resources, and meals for the day.

What motivated Wisr to launch HIGHER?  ▾

As a (female-led) company, Wisr spent a lot of time reflecting on the state of higher education leadership. Based on our interactions while bringing Wisr to market, higher ed isn’t reflecting the kind of diverse and inclusive future the world aspires to have. In our work, we consistently see equal representation of women in individual contributor or lower-level managerial roles, but more senior leadership positions often don't reflect that diversity. Women in higher ed administration are facing barriers to rising the ranks in their institutions, and we wanted to do something about it.

Can you deliver HIGHER specifically for women at my institution?  ▾

Yes! We offer HIGHER to institutions interested in a private professional development for their female faculty and staff. If you're interested in learning more about this offering, email Kate Volzer.