Women in Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit

March 1, 2024
8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Register Now

Be Influential: Lead and Empower with Authenticity

Don’t think you have what it takes to influence others?

At this summit, you will learn how to harness your unique leadership potential, no matter where you are in your career journey. We will explore different ways we can use our influence to lead and empower those around us while remaining true to our authentic selves. Together, we will discover how learning from each other can help us all make an impact.

The Office of Access and Community Connections at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business invites you to the Ninth Annual Women in Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit.

The annual event connects Haslam administrators, faculty, staff, students and friends with accomplished female leaders who can help nurture and cultivate leadership skills.

Designed to Empower

This half-day, interactive learning and professional development event is hosted by the Haslam College of Business. The summit is designed to empower UT students, faculty and staff who identify as female from all backgrounds and all who support addressing issues women face in business. The summit provides a platform for meaningful dialogue on these issues, introduces professionals who can serve as role models and offers practical approaches to bringing more women into business leadership positions worldwide. Participants will connect with a network of diverse female professionals and engage in mentorship-focused discussion groups and networking. As accomplished leaders in their fields, workshop facilitators have a wealth of experiences to share that will help you recognize your leadership, identify your best leadership qualities and prepare you to lead others while sustaining and cultivating yourself.

Women In Business Entrepreneurship & Leadership Summit
Women in Business Summit

Building Excellence through Inclusion

Haslam is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. As a community of scholars, the college is inclusive of people of all racial, ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic backgrounds and nationalities. We welcome and support diversity of thought, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, political affiliation and ability. We believe in a culture of inclusion and stand firm in the belief that an appreciation of individuals from a multitude of backgrounds and experiences is a necessity in the global workforce.

Clarice Phelps

Keynote Speaker

Clarice Phelps
Principal Investigator for the Pm-147 Project
Radioisotope Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Clarice Phelps is a renowned nuclear chemist and a PhD student in UT’s nuclear engineering program. As an integral member of the team that discovered element 117, tennessine, she became the first African American woman to help discover a new element. She recently served as Radiation Signature Training Devices project manager at ORNL and is now the principal investigator for the Pm-147 Project in the lab’s Radioisotope Science and Technology Division. She currently serves as board member and vice president for Yo-STEM, a 501(C)3 non-profit organization that aims to bring STEM education to underserved communities.

Phelps holds a BS in chemistry from Tennessee State University and an MS in mechanical engineering with a focus on nuclear and radiation engineering from the University of Texas, Austin.


Opening Session Facilitator

Melissa Irvin
Associate Vice Provost for Student Success
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

As an associate vice provost for student success, Melissa Irvin supports undergraduate academic advising and directs the Center for Career Development and Academic Exploration, the Academic Success Center and the Academic Advising Initiatives team. Prior to joining UT in fall 2023, she was an assistant dean at the University of South Florida in Tampa and served as assistant vice president of student success at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee. Irvin earned her BA in psychology from Duke University, MEd in education administration from Middle Tennessee State University and EdD in higher education leadership and policy from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.

Guest Speakers


Julie Ezold

Julie Ezold
Technical Advisor
U.S. Department of Energy Isotope Program

Julie Ezold has over 30 years’ experience at ORNL and is currently a technical advisor for the U.S. Department of Energy Isotope Program. Previously, she was the program manager for Californium-252, a multi-million-dollar enterprise that included the production of trans-curium products that led to the discovery of element 117, tennessine. Ezold holds a BS in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MS in nuclear engineering from North Carolina State University. She serves in leadership roles in the American Nuclear Society and U.S. Women in Nuclear and is also active in the American Chemistry Society.

Whitney Heins

Whitney Heins
Founder, The Mother Runners
VDOT Certified Running Coach

Whitney Heins began her career as a TV newscaster. After several years, she took what she learned from TV news and used it to launch a business that was rooted in her lifelong passion for running and compatible with her other priorities, such as starting a family. Heins founded The Mother Runners website, community, and coaching business to empower fellow moms to move past the barriers of “mom life” to be their best selves on and off the roads. She now runs a top running blog, hosts two running podcasts, and coaches women and men around the world — mostly from the comfort of her home.

Tara Mohrfeld

Tara Mohrfeld
Lecturer, Management & Entrepreneurship
Haslam College of Business

Tara Mohrfeld’s focus is developing mindful, life-long learners and leaders who use their authentic strengths to contribute to business and society. Along with teaching courses in leadership skills and business management as a full-time faculty member at Haslam, she advises the Management Society at UT (MSUT) student organization and serves on the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, as well as the Women in Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit planning committee. Mohrfeld received her PhD from UT, her master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa.

Deborah L. Watts

Deborah Watts
Director of Executive Programs in Nashville
Haslam College of Business

With experience spanning a wide range of disciplines and industries, Deborah Watts has spent more than 20 years helping people and organizations grow. She currently serves as Haslam’s director of executive programs in Nashville, founder and CEO of the talent optimization consulting firm Hayde & Company, certified partner for Predictive Index and senior consultant for the Leadership Pipeline Institute. Watts has expertise not only in organizational development, but also in behavioral assessments, adult learning, talent optimization, succession planning and emotional intelligence competencies. She earned her BS in organizational communications and MBA in leadership from Lipscomb University and an EdD in leadership and professional practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Event Registration


Use the form below to register to attend the Women in Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit. The registration deadline is February 22.

The event registration has ended. Our next event will be held in 2025.

The first 100 people to check in at the summit will receive a gift.

2024 Agenda


Friday, Mar 01

8:30-8:50 a.m.

Check-In

Location: Outside Ballroom Entrance

8:50-9 a.m.

Welcome & Opening Remarks

Stephen L. Mangum & Clarence Vaughn

Location: Ballroom (272)

9-9:50 a.m.

Opening Session

Leading and Influencing at All Levels
Melissa Irvin

Location: Ballroom (272)

10-10:50 a.m.

Session 1

Introverted Influence
Tara Mohrfeld

Do you consider yourself an introvert? Do you often wonder how this trait influences your life and leadership approach? Leadership effectiveness is not about extroversion or being the loudest in the room. Tara Mohrfeld explores what it means to be an introvert, the strengths inherent in introversion and how staying true to your authentic nature can enhance your leadership influence and effectiveness. She also discusses how to lead and empower the introverts around you, ensuring everyone’s voices contribute to the diversity of ideas and strengths that make teams successful.

Location: 262A/B

10-10:50 a.m.

Session 2

How to Have Influence When You're the Only One
Julie Ezold

Have you ever entered a room and realized you’re the only one like you? How do you respond? Julie Ezold shares what she has learned over the course of her career, from her early days of entering the engineering field to becoming a technical manager at a national laboratory.

Location: 262C

11-11:50 a.m.

Session 1

To Influence and Lead Others, You Must First Understand How YOU are Hardwired
Deborah Watts

Deborah Watts helps you explore your natural behavioral drives and needs through the Predictive Index (PI) assessment. The PI is far more than a personality test — it is a way to understand your leadership style and your impact on others. During the session, you will receive your assessment results* and learn about how you are hardwired.
*Must take assessment prior to the summit.

Location: 262 A/B

11-11:50 a.m.

Session 2

How to Use Influence to Help Your Career Evolve with Your Life
Whitney Heins

Whitney Heins discusses how she was able to change fields, take a risk and build a career that continues to evolve with her life and interests.

Location: 262C

12-1 p.m.

Keynote Address

How Your Daily Influence Leaves a Legacy of Impact
Clarice Phelps

What are we doing to leave a lasting impact on our communities, families and the world? Is our focus self-serving or outward facing in being of service to others? Each interaction we have with people is our own personal legacy. Clarice Phelps discusses her career journey and how she intends to inspire everyone to leave a legacy worth remembering.

Location: Ballroom (272)

1:10-2 p.m.

Closing Session

Young Entrepreneurs Using Their Influence to Impact Their Communities
Anderson Center Female Entrepreneurs (Introduced by Breanna Hale)

This session is a showcase of some of the female entrepreneurs from the Anderson Center and how they are leading the way for change in their communities.

Location: 270

Join Us

Register now for the Women in Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summit

Register Now