Breaking Out: Empowering & Encouraging Women Leaders

Rather than asking women to change themselves to “better fit” the current culture, our speakers will talk about how they are driving systemic change in corporate culture, policy, compensation, and government representation to empower women and encourage their leadership style. Since 1988 women make up more than half the US population and outnumber men on college campuses and in degree completion. Yet their rise in the ranks of leadership, both in the political and business worlds, has plateaued. Women’s’ presence in top leadership positions—as law partners, university school deans, and corporate executive officers—remains below twenty percent. Female “share of voice,” the average proportion of representation on op-ed pages and corporate boards, as TV pundits, and in Congress—is just 15%. In fact, it’s now estimated that, at the current rate of change, women won't reach parity with men in leadership roles in our country until 2085.* Living, as we do, at the epicenter of innovation, it is incumbent upon us to break out and bring this timetable to gender parity forward.

*Women’s Leadership by the Numbers, Judith Warren, March 2014

Featured Speakers!

Join the County of San Mateo Commission on the Status of Women for a day of amazing speakers and conversations focused on developing women’s leadership.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud, President of Skyline College, Keynote Speaker

Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud, President of Skyline College, has been an educator in the California Community Colleges for more than twenty five years. She began as a professor of nursing at then named, Rancho Santiago College of Santa Ana. She went on to become the Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Mission College in Santa Clara and the Vice President of Instruction at Skyline College in San Bruno, California. She was recently appointed to be the President of Skyline College by the Board of Trustees of the San Mateo County Community College District. Her experience in state policy includes a 5 year tenure as a representative, Vice President, President and Past President of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.


Regina Stanback Stroud holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Sciences from Howard University in Washington DC, a Master’s Degree in Human Relations from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, a Master’s and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from Mills College in Oakland, California.



Leading to Transgress - Through the Lens of Equity

A theory of leadership-a multi-racial, multicultural identified, gender-influenced framework that is informed by leaders


-who are a part of or situated closely to the masses of marginalized people of color

-whose primary purpose is to influence allocation of resources in a way that breaks down or transgresses existing systems of power and privilege in the pursuit of social justice.


Leading to liberate, strenghten, and educate. Leading to free the oppressed and to change the racist and sexist structures of power and privilege. Leading to develop the depth of humanity and to maximize human potential. Leading to make a difference in this world.

  • Hall of Fame Honorees, Program Speakers & Special Guests:

Naomi Patridge, Half Moon Bay

Naomi Patridge of Half Moon Bay became the first Asian-American elected to public office in San Mateo County, serving a record seven times as Mayor for Half Moon Bay as well as serving in City Council for 25 years. As a child, she and her family lost their family farm when they were interned during WWII; first in San Bruno and then in Topaz, Utah. They came back to the Coastside to rebuild their life and Naomi grew up and had her first experience in government serving on the Parks and Recreation Board in 1973. She established a Girls Softball Program that has endured for 47 years, coached a Championship High School Team and mentored a vast number of young women. She has a trail named after her on the Coastside and has established preservation of land for future generations.


Erin Tormey, Half Moon Bay

Erin Tormey of Half Moon Bay founded the Coastside Farmers' Market in Half Moon Bay in 2002. Healthy and sustainable and socially equitable food systems are Erin's passion, so her vision went beyond providing locally produced food for the community and economic opportunity for the many small family farms in the county, to seeking out programs that support lower income residents such as the Senior and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and CalFresh and bringing them to her markets. She was a pilot partner in MarketMatch, now a state-wide program that doubles participants produce purchasing power, and created LocalMatch, a unique program offered to residents who do not qualify for any form of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs. She’s a founder of the HEAL Project, a Coastside-grown curriculum rooted in agriculture that is delivered to all students in the 2nd and 3rd grades on the Coastside.  Designed teach students where their food comes from and why that matters, The HEAL Project  also provides access to more than 2,500 students throughout San Mateo County to  the 2.5 acre School Farm they established in Moss Beach.   She is a founding member of the San Mateo County Food System Alliance,   was appointed to CDFA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Review Committee for a 5 year term, and was named San Mateo County Farmer of the Year in 2017.



Kalimah Salahuddin, Daly City

Kalimah Salahuddin of Daly City currently serves as a Trustee for the Jefferson Union High School District Board of Education and is in the second year of her second term. In April 2014 Kalimah was elected as a member of the California School Boards Association's (CSBA) Delegate Assembly to represent her board and region.  She also was recently appointed to the Board of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco where she has been a regular volunteer for the past ten years.

Kalimah was the Campaign Manager for Yes on L, the successful renewal of the local funding measure for the Pacifica School District, and Yes on Y and Yes on E, two successful local funding measures for the Jefferson Union High School District.  She also served on the Board of Educate Our State and as President of Saving Pacifica Schools in advocacy of public school systems at the local and state levels. Kalimah is employed as an Executive Assistant at Exelixis and is a mother to three wonderful young adults.



Dr. Jamillah Moore currently serves as the President of Cañada College, an award-winning institution located in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Dr. Moore has become known for her passion on educational excellence, equity, tackling difficult issues, and leveraging collaborative partnerships to ensure student success. Prior to her position at Cañada College, she was Vice-Chancellor for Educational Services and Planning of the San Mateo County Community College District, Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD), President of Los Angeles City College, Senior Vice Chancellor for Governmental and External Relations for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, and Interim Superintendent/President of Compton Community College. As an experienced educational leader, Dr. Moore combines innovation, research, and effective management with a commitment to transparency, respect for faculty and staff, and deep and compassionate dedication to students.


Michelle Droz, Woodruff Sawyer & Company, Event Emcee

Michelle Droz is on a mission. She is an engaging, accomplished national speaker and presenter. She is an activist on the legislative front fighting for healthcare, human and female rights. Life started as an orphan found on a doorstep in rural Korea. Eventually adopted, she was raised in a small town outside of Chicagoland area. In the orphanage, she was exposed to many contagious diseases. Michelle has traveled multiple times in Washington DC to lobby for funding for preventable diseases. She has advocated for extreme poverty issues as a Congressional District Leader through the ONE Campaign. Michelle has been a host, emcee and speaker for many events specific to advocacy, special education rights and for non-profit causes.


Michelle is a Senior Vice President and Partner of one of the largest privately held risk management firms in the country and a mother to twin sons. She is the President of the philanthropic arm within her company called CARE which is comprised of employees who volunteer onsite and plan financial support to local organizations. She believes that a woman's vision is unstoppable with determination, hard work, tenacity and a strong network of successful partners who share the same values.

Leah Weiss, PhD, "Resilience, Mindfulness, and Compassion can Transform the Workplace"

Leah Weiss, PhD, is a researcher, professor, consultant, and author. Weiss is principal teacher and founding faculty for Stanford's Compassion Cultivation Program, conceived by the Dalai Lama. She teaches Compassionate Leadership at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she created the perennially-waitlisted course "Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion." She also directs Compassion Education and Scholarship at HopeLab, an Omidyar Group research and development nonprofit focused on resilience. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Brigid O'Farrell, "Learning from the Past to Change the Future: Organizing & Leading with Eleanor Roosevelt"

Brigid O'Farrell is an independent scholar affiliated with the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project at George Washington University. Her research, writing, and advocacy in sociology and labor history focus on public policy and women's equality in the workplace, especially in in skilled trades and technical jobs. She has a masters degree from Harvard University, is a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, and now lives in Moss Beach, California.


Hon. Carole Groom, County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors, Panel Moderator

Hon. Carole Groom, representing District 2, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in June 2010, served as President of the Board in 2011 and 2015. Prior to Supervisor Groom’s appointment in 2009, she served nine years on the San Mateo City Council, including two terms as Mayor, and on the San Mateo Planning and Public Works Commissions. Her professional experience includes 18 years as a Vice President of Mills-Peninsula Health Services. She also serves on the Boards of Directors of the San Mateo Police Activities League and Leadership San Mateo/Foster City/Burlingame/Hillsborough. Supervisor Groom resides in the city of San Mateo.



 Following her passion for community justice and accountability, Ms. Davina Hurt was elected as council member for the City of Belmont in 2015 and now serves as Vice Mayor. As a Belmont City Councilwoman, Ms. Hurt works hard to improve the quality of life for all. Davina believes in the power of coming together to make good things happen and serves with integrity, listens carefully, engages all voices, respect all opinions, and works hard to represent the City of Belmont with distinction.


Shara Watkins has dedicated her life to education and to the students in her local communities. After graduating from Wellesley College, she participated in the Teach for America program in New York City. During this time, she earned her Master’s degree in Childhood General and Special Education. Over the past twelve years, she has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and curriculum designer. Shara has lead extensive teacher training on a variety of topics, from equity in education to using technology as a tool to improve student learning. In August 2013, Shara and her husband moved to San Mateo and have finally found their home. Since moving to Bay Meadows, she has been actively involved in serving and supporting her community. As a SMFCSD School Board Trustee, she looks forward to continuing to give back to the students, families, teachers, and San Mateo-Foster community in a way that leverages her expertise and continues the trajectory of excellent schools for all kids.

Patty White, "Up Your Game with Three Practices to Make You More Effective at Work (and in Life)"

Patty White, Cofounder and COO of ReBoot Accel, supports and provides a community for talented women by offering training in leadership, communication skills and office technology. Patty also consults with Fortune 500 companies interested in tapping the pipeline of women returning to the workplace. Prior to launching ReBoot Accel, she co-founded the LuMind Foundation, which has been instrumental in initiating clinical trials for treatments to improve cognition in individuals with Down syndrome. Patty's earlier career spanned 13 years in sales, finance, marketing, and strategic planning for IBM and HP. She holds a BA in Economics from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard University.


Jaemi Serene, "Connecting as One Through Networking and Mentorship"

 Jaemi Serene is a Women’s Leadership Advocate who has a passion for developing the next generation of women.  With a 15 year career in Human Resources and studying Leadership at both University of San Francisco and Fielding Graduate University, she founded SheLeadsHer, a leadership program focusing on Mindset Shifts, Voice Activation and Leadership Theory Implementation. Jaemi Serene helps women see their unique individual strengths and understands that while we push to close the leadership and gender wage gap in our communities, women must understand that they are not a statistic and they are capable of leading and earning a fair salary.





9:00 amRegistration and Breakfast/Continental
9:30Welcome and Opening Remarks
10:00Capitalizing on Women's Leadership (50 min) -
two sessions to choose from

Government Panel with Question & Answer (50 min)

11:50amResource Tabling / Free Coaching
12:30pmSit-Down Lunch/Keynote
1:50Mentoring & Networking (50 min) -
two sessions to choose from
2:45 pmProgram Ends – Closing Remarks
3:00 pmNetworking Cocktail Reception / Resource Tabling / Free Coaching (Conference and Hall of Fame participants invited)



County of San Mateo Women’s Hall of Fame Induction (no dinner)



*Register - Women's Leadership Conference & Women's Hall of Fame

Registration Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Receive a special Discount Code from a Commission Member or email for information!


*Youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or adult chaperone. Parents/Guardians must complete and turn in the Terms of Participation & Parental Authorization Form prior to the Event in order for their minor child(ren) to participate. DOWNLOAD FORM

Our Sponsors:

Carole Groom, County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors

Donna Vaillancourt, Director, County of San Mateo Human Resources Department

Sponsorship Information:

You can select one of the levels below or contact the event committee to design a custom sponsorship package for your organization. Program Advertising is also available in 1/4 page, 1/2 page and full page sizes.

Please download our Sponsorship Packet to review which level is right for your organization. You are encouraged to work with the Conference Sponsorship Lead ( and then submit your order via Eventbrite.


Credit card donations are accepted via Eventbrite. Credit card processing fees apply.

Have questions about the Women's Leadership Conference? Please email