HIGHER Lancaster

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

April 21, 2020 | Lancaster, PA


›››››  2020  ‹‹‹‹‹
By Wisr


HIGHER is a series of professional development conferences designed to create space for conversations and connections that empower women in higher education to push through barriers to reaching their career goals and to pull other women up along the way. 

Offered in cities across the US, each year HIGHER equips hundreds of women in higher education with the resources and relationships to reach senior leadership positions. 

This is not your standard big-box conference. If you are eager to expand your local and national network of women in higher education, are questioning whether you want to build a career in higher education, or could simply use a burst of inspiration, HIGHER is for you.  










Join the national movement of women in higher education by participating in the unique, attendee-guided programming at HIGHER. Regardless of which city you attend, you'll walk away with a strong network of supportive women (and potential mentors!) in your field, increased clarity on the strengths and expertise you currently bring to your role, and a plan for how to take the next step in your career. 

Our day together is divided into 3 main sections:





Coupling space for individual reflection with structured partner sharing, this workshop will have you identifying the values, strengths, and interests driving your career. Gain insights about what types of environments you thrive in, share stories with fellow attendees, and define what success looks and feels like to you. 




Hear from 3 women leaders on what they've learned about navigating careers in higher ed. How have they cultivated their own unique leadership styles? What advice would they give to their younger selves? Learn what these outstanding women think the next generation of higher ed leaders needs to know. 




Take professional development into your own hands by writing your ideal future performance review, receive flash mentorship on a specific area you'd like to develop, such as negotiating a raise or requesting an opportunity to develop a new skillset, and leave with a concrete action plan for reaching your next professional goal. 


"These were some of the best speakers I've encountered. The value of gathering all of us cannot be overstated, and keeping it intimate also made it easier to engage."
"Overall very enlightening and empowering. Great atmosphere. Beautiful place and easily accessible. Why wouldn’t someone want to come?"
"Each session gave me direct takeaways where many expensive conferences do not! Extremely high value."
"Perfectly organized, well-thought out activities, opportunities for networking, and inspiring conversation. Thank you for this great opportunity!"
"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!"
"In the absence of any real, practical, applicable, small formal opportunities for women in higher ed, this meets a need!"
"The personal, open, honest conversation was great! I feel so much more confident about my future due to idea-sharing with some seasoned women in the field."
"You all were extremely thorough, and I feel so empowered. The atmosphere and information was more valuable than any conference I've previously attended."



Date, Time, + Location


HIGHER Lancaster will take place on April 21, 2020 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the Spooky Nook Sports

Registration Cost


Regular admission costs $80 and includes the full day of programming, workshop materials, access to an online network of all previous HIGHER attendees, a healthy lunch, and refreshments. There are 40 tickets reserved for members of PCLA and 30 tickets from the larger community. Discounted Early Bird and PCLA Member Tickets are also available. Register here



HIGHER is intentionally capped at 70 attendees, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to shape the conversation, form meaningful relationships, and share your perspective. 

8:30 AM — CHECK IN



10:45 AM — BREAK






1:15 PM — BREAK

1:25 PM — HIGHER + BEYOND: Resources to Continue the Conversation



3:20 PM - ACT PLAN




Barbara K. Altmann, PhD

President of Franklin & Marshall College


Barbara K. Altmann, PhD, began her tenure as the 16th president of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA in August of 2018. A relatively recent transplant to Pennsylvania, having moved to the Commonwealth in 2015 to serve as provost at Bucknell University, Barbara previously spent more than two and a half decades at the University of Oregon. While there, she held a variety of academic and administrative roles including: professor of French, chair of the Department of Romance Languages, director of the Oregon Humanities Center, and spent her final three years as senior vice provost for Academic Affairs.

During her three years as provost at Bucknell, Barbara played an instrumental role in securing major gifts for capital programs, capital facilities and endowed faculty positions to support all divisions of the university.

At Franklin & Marshall, Barbara is leading the first comprehensive capital campaign at the college in three decades: Now to Next: The Campaign for Franklin & Marshall. Barbara also has the distinction of being the first female president in the college’s 230+ year history.

A native of Canada, Barbara received her bachelor’s degree with honors in romance languages from the University of Alberta, a master’s in French language and literature and her doctorate in medieval French language and literature from the University of Toronto. In her scholarly pursuits, Barbara has authored and/or edited four books and written numerous articles, reviews and conference papers in her field of expertise. Her peers have recognized her with elected stints on the executive councils of the American Council of Learned Society and the Modern Language Association.


Brontè Burleigh-Jones, PhD 

Vice President for Finance and Administration at Dickinson College


Brontè Burleigh-Jones, PhD, has been the vice president for Finance and Administration at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA since September of 2013. Prior to joining the Dickinson community, Brontè held leadership positions at St. John’s College (MD), and Huston-Tillotson University (TX).

As the chief financial and administrative officer at Dickinson, Brontè oversees all areas of finance and campus operations including: the Bookstore, the Children’s Center, Conferences and Special Events, Dining Services, Facilities Management, Financial Operations, Human Resources, and the Mail Center.

In addition to her extensive on campus duties, Brontè is currently serving as chair of the board of HERS and has been a member of their board since 2012. A 2017 recipient of the Professional Development Award from the National Association of College and University Officers (NACUBO), Brontè has been a frequent presenter on a variety of topics, including finance, accreditation, communication, leadership and diversity at the respective conferences of NACUBO, American Council of Education (ACE) and the Association of Governing Boards (AGB). She is a frequent author for NACUBO’s Business Officer magazine and, in 2015, presented the “CBO Speaks” podcast, which remains the most downloaded from NACUBO’s website.

Brontè holds two degrees from American University, a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA. She obtained her PhD in higher education administration from the University of Texas, Austin and is a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Higher Education and the HERS Institute at Wellesley College.


Jesse Gale, PhD 

Chief Communication Officer at Bryn Mawr College


Jesse Gale, PhD, has been the chief communications officer at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA since July of 2015. Prior to joining the senior staff at Bryn Mawr, Jesse held marketing and communications roles of increasing responsibility at Columbia University, television producer roles at places like PBS, Lifetime and TV Land, as well as college and high school teaching experience at institutions like Wesleyan and Yale Universities and for the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

As the chief communications officer at Bryn Mawr, Jesse is a member of the president’s senior staff and advises/leads on communications strategy for the undergraduate women’s college, the co-educational graduate school and the myriad programs that the college administers. AShe oversees the institution's brand as well as key projects like Bryn Mawr's magazine and its "docu-series" of student and alumnae/i stories.

Jesse holds a bachelor’s degree in english literature and theatre from Smith College, an MBA in media management and marketing from Columbia University’s Business School, and a PhD in English Literature from Yale University.


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.

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. 




Who will be attending the conference?  ▾

Each HIGHER conference brings together roughly 50 women who work at nearby institutions of higher learning. We welcome women in faculty and staff positions across all higher education areas and levels to join in this close-knit professional development experience. 

In 2019 alone, more than 1,000 women from 300+ institutions attended HIGHER in cities across the US. While a majority of 2019 attendees were Dean or Director-level, attendees more junior in their careers also found the conference highly beneficial for better understanding various career paths in higher education and connecting with similarly ambitious peers.

Wisr welcomes participants of diverse backgrounds, including those of diverse gender identities. We are committed to championing the careers and personal wellbeing of all women, including cisgender and transgender individuals. When we use the term “women” it is wholeheartedly inclusive of transgender women.

What topics will we discuss at HIGHER?  ▾

The conference will cover issues affecting women's opportunity for advancement in higher education, including negotiation skills, bias and discrimination, pay equity, mentorship and sponsorship, networking, confidence and imposter syndrome, and more. The program is not designed as a lecture. Rather, sessions are highly interactive, allowing attendees to guide the conversation.

Is there space for conversation around intersectionality?  ▾

Absolutely yes. While HIGHER is organized around the larger umbrella of women in higher education, attendees are encouraged to share their unique intersectional perspectives. This is an opportunity to inform, listen, and learn from one another, even if our experiences may differ. 

Why is each conference capped at 55 attendees?  ▾

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 conference is intentionally capped at 55 attendees to allow for that close-knit, collaborative environment.

What does it cost to attend HIGHER?  ▾

Regular admission for one individual costs $80. A limited number (5) of Early Bird tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cost $65.

Interested attendees from the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts (PCLA) - Bryn Mawr, Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Haverford, Juniata, Lafayette, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus and Washington & Jefferson Colleges - can retrieve the code for their free ticket by filling out this google formYou must use your institutional ".edu" email address to access the code and to secure your ticket.

Pricing Overview
Early Bird Individual Registration (10 available tickets): $50
Regular Individual Registration: $80
PCLA Member Registration: Free with Code

How can I register for HIGHER?  ▾

We're thrilled you're ready to join the HIGHER movement! Tickets for each city are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration for all upcoming conferences can be found here.

After submitting payment, you will receive an email confirmation. If you do not receive an email, reach out to higher@wisr.io to confirm that your space has been reserved. (Check your spam folders, too. Those can be pesky!)

If the city you're interested in attending is at capacity, please join the waitlist. We'll notify you as soon as space becomes available. 

Why isn't HIGHER going to be free in 2020?  ▾

We were incredibly fortunate to be able to offer HIGHER as a free professional development opportunity in 2019 – its inaugural year. To make the series as sustainable as possible, moving forward, these will be ticketed events as there are many costs associated with putting on a national conference series including facilities, rentals, technology, AV, meals, refreshments, program development, production, printing, labor, and Wisr team travel. We are committed to setting registration fees as low as possible to remain accessible while creating an optimized attendee experience.

I can no longer attend. Can I cancel or transfer my registration?  ▾

Attendees can receive refunds up to 30 days before the conference date. This can be done by re-accessing your online registration. In the unlikely event that the conference is cancelled, travel and accommodation costs will not be refunded.

If you can no longer attend this date but would like to transfer your registration to another HIGHER city, please contact higher@wisr.io.

Can you help me coordinate travel and accommodations?  ▾

All travel, including airfare and local accommodations, is the responsibility of conference attendees. Logistics related to public transportation and parking will be shared with conference registrants in the weeks prior to the event date.

Will there be a private room for nursing mothers?  ▾

Of course, new moms are welcome at HIGHER! We will arrange a private space for pumping upon request. Please contact higher@wisr.io to request a space. 

Who is Wisr and why are you organizing HIGHER?  ▾

Allow us to introduce ourselves! Wisr is an education technology company based in Cleveland, Ohio. We build networking software that colleges and universities typically use to connect their students with alumni for mentorship. <

As a (female-led) company, we've spent a lot of time reflecting on how technology can democratize access to opportunity. It's why Kate Volzer, our founder, feels so passionate about the potential for Wisr to support the academic and professional careers of first-gen, under-represented, and military students. It's also why, when we learned more about the lack of representation of women in senior leadership positions in higher education, we felt compelled to do something about it. 

In January 2019, we launched the HIGHER series in 23 cities across the US. The goal was to impact the careers of 500 women. We were amazed and inspired by the thousands of women who wanted to join the movement. Our role at each conference is not to tell you how to fix the problems in higher education. Rather, we work to create space for women to come together to share lessons learned and strategies with each other.  As part of our commitment to women in higher education, we also created the HIGHER Network, the largest digital community of women in higher education. All attendees have access to join the network to share resources, seek mentorship, and expand their national networks.