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

May 14, 2019 | St. Paul, MN




›››››  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!"




Fayneese Miller  

President of Hamline University


Dr. Miller became president of Minnesota’s first university in 2015, the first African-American and second woman to serve as president. Dr. Miller earned a B.A. in psychology from Hampton University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Texas Christian University, had post-doctoral training in applied social psychology at Yale University and was elected as an American Council of Education (ACE) Fellow and a Millennium Leadership Fellow.

Previously she served as professor and dean of the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont, and before that was associate professor of psychology at Brown University, where she was the first coordinator of education studies and founding chairman of ethnic studies. She is a social psychologist who specializes in the psychosocial development of adolescents and has authored or co- authored seven books or monographs and many articles. Her research has been funded by such organizations as the Eli Lilly Foundation, National Science Foundation, Paul Newman Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Her work includes studies on perceptions of racial/ethnic bias for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, a project on school-based truancy courts for the Rhode Island Family Court, how to transform learning environments, and anti-social behavior of children and youth. She has been an invited lecturer throughout the U.S. and in Saudi Arabia, Thailand, China, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

She has served national professional organizations as chair of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), president of the Council of Academic Deans from Research Extensive Institutions (CADREI), chair of the Vermont State Board of Education, and a member of the advisory committee for the National Truancy Board, the American Academy of Arts and Science Task Force on diversity in higher education and the Annie Casey Foundation and Joint Center for Political Studies focus group on reproductive health.

Dr. Miller has an outstanding record of public and community service. Among her many previous activities include five years as governor-appointed chair of the Vermont State Board of Education, numerous committees appointed by the Rhode Island governor and attorney general, and community boards such as the Wheeler School, Rhode Island Historical Society, Big Sisters, and Rhode Island Youth Guidance Center. Since coming to Hamline, she has been elected to the national board of NASCUMC (National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church) and the NCAA Division III Presidents Council. In the Twin Cities she serves on the boards of Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). The Schubert Club, and the Wilder Foundation. Additionally, she is on the International Advisory Board of the University of Business and Technology in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Minnesota Governor Dayton appointed her both to the Minnesota Governor’s Residence Council and to the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, a public-private partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to improve the lives of young women. She also serves ex officio on the boards of the Minnesota Private College Council, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Mitchell-Hamline School of Law, and the New American Colleges and Universities national consortium.


Mai Nhia Xiong-Chan  

Vice President of Enrollment Management at Hamline University


Xiong-Chan, who came to Hamline in 2014 as Director of Undergraduate Admission, has led the university to four consecutive years of record-breaking first-year student enrollment. Xiong-Chan has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English Literature and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University. Presently, she is studying at Hamline to complete her doctorate in education.

In her position, Xiong-Chan oversees Hamline’s offices of Undergraduate Admissions, Graduate Admission, and Financial Aid. She is also the first woman of Hmong ancestry to hold a higher education position of this type in the United States. Throughout her career, Xiong-Chan has demonstrated a commitment to higher education access and affordability with special emphasis on promotion and policies that support underrepresented and first generation students.


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 and serving on the DigitalC Fund Advisory Board. Kate was a member 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, but now resides in Rocky River. When she’s not working on building Wisr, Kate is probably practicing yoga, spending time on Lake Erie, playing with her dog, or enjoying good conversation over a glass of wine.


Anna Moloney  

Director of Marketing at Wisr


As Wisr’s Director of Marketing, Anna oversees the company’s digital and in-person marketing strategy. This includes programming design and coordination of the HIGHER summit series and Wisr Academy learning hub.

Prior to joining Wisr, Anna worked in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice. In her work as a human capital consultant, Anna focused on guiding her Fortune 500 clients - and their people - through transformational change. Whether managing enterprise communications, redesigning organizational structures, or developing culture and engagement workshops, her priority has always been to create space for people to be their best at work.

Date, Time, & Location


The summit will take place on May 14, 2019 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM in St Paul, MN. We'll gather at the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum.

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.