Supporting the personal and professional development of women at ASU for 30+ years

2015 Sessions & Bios

Jewell Parker RhodesOpening keynote

Experience the Power of Storytelling

 Jewell Parker Rhodes
Virginia G. Piper Chair in Creative Writing and Artistic Director of Piper Global Engagement, ASU 

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the award-winning author of Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women, Season, Moon, Hurricane, and the children’s book Ninth Ward. Her writing guides include: Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction.

Her play, Voodoo Dreams, was cited as “Most Innovative” Drama in the 2000-2001 Professional Theater Season by the Arizona Republic and she is currently at work on a theatrical version of Douglass’ Women. 

Her work has been published in Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and reproduced in audio and for NPR’s “Selected Shorts.” Her honors include: the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, and two Arizona Book Awards.     

Christine WilkinsonLuncheon remarks

Dream—Design—Act: Perspectives on Considering Personal and Professional Goals

Christine Wilkinson
Senior Vice President and Secretary of the University; President and CEO, ASU Alumni Association; Associate Professor, Division of Educational Leadership & Innovation, Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College

Prior to her current appointments at ASU, Dr. Christine K. Wilkinson served as the Vice President for Student Affairs for 13 years and, among many administrative assignments, served as the university’s interim athletic director on three separate occasions. 

Her current involvement in the community includes serving on the Community Advisory Council for Wells Fargo Bank, Valley of the Sun United Way Board, board chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, the Arizona Educational Foundation Advisory Board, US Airways Education Foundation Board, and the Governance Committee for the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. In addition, she is a member of the Arizona Business Leadership Association, Arizona Women’s Forum and ASU Women & Philanthropy.

Wilkinson has received the University’s Award of Merit, the Alumni Achievement Award, the CASE Crystal Apple Award, named the Valley Leadership Woman of the Year, selected as one of Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women for the Arizona Centennial Legacy Project, named City of Tempe Business Woman of the Year, and received additional community awards for leadership and service.   

 *** Conference concurrent sessions ***

Crystal GustavsonBecoming A Sun Devil Service Champion

Crystal Gustavson
Assistant Director of Student-Centric Communications Office of the University Provost, Arizona State University (480) 965-5914 |

The New American University Design Aspiration #5 states: “ASU is committed to the success of each unique student.” To achieve this, the university has established an ASU Service Standard and Sun Devil Service Principles to set the foundation for cultivating our service culture.

We are committed to providing exemplary service to our students, their families, and the ASU community to promote student success and pride in being a Sun Devil.

To accomplish this, we follow the Sun Devil Service Principles:
  • Actively listen, acknowledge, and respond to every inquiry.
  • Take ownership and resolve each concern or problem as if it is our own.
  • Demonstrate professionalism and expertise in every interaction.
  • Engage in professional development to meet the expectations for service excellence.

Attend this session to develop strategies for providing excellent customer service to the ASU community. You will also learn how to lead a discussion about customer service in your department.


Crystal Gustavson has been tasked by the University Provost with identifying and implementing strategies and tactics to drive consistent and effective student communications across ASU.  A two-time graduate of ASU, Gustavson joined the staff in 2010 as the Alumni Association’s digital media manager, where she created engagement strategies and marketing campaigns. She also served as online editor for ASU Magazine, developing a digital presence for the university’s largest print publication.  

LauRah FrankfortRenew with Qi Gong

LauRha Frankfort
Qi Gong instructor


LauRha Frankfort has taught medical Qi Gong at The Virginia G Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare for nine years as well as at the Cardiac Rehab Center. Frankfort teaches other Qi Gong classes weekly at various venues around town. She attended the Music School of Indiana University in Bloomington as a classical clarinet major, double minor in jazz sax and printmaking. She continues to teach music, performs with her band at different clubs throughout the Valley and creates healing art that is sold statewide. Frankfort discovered a passion for Qi Gong, which emphasizes natural and holistic healing and is the technique of building, increasing and directing the energy of the body, mind and spirit. She continues to study with Qi Gong Grand Master Hong Liu and, after 15 years of instruction, has become one of only a handful of certified teachers in the Valley.    

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

Jeff Bradford, New York Life Insurance professional consultant

As you approach retirement, a key consideration is how to maximize your retirement income. Learn to discover the most appropriate time to start taking your Social Security benefits. There are many factors to consider when determining when to begin taking your Social Security benefits timing, including:
• Longevity
• Benefit amounts, including spousal benefits
• Your needs vs. wants
• Working in retirement
• Taxation of benefits, and more.

Jillian McManusManaging Your Inner Voice

Jillian McManus
Senior Director, Organizational Health & Development, ASU’s HR Employee Assistance Office

Learn to quiet the judge, the jury and your inner critic to improve self-compassion and self-acceptance. The stories we tell ourselves, or that “internal dialog” that continually plays in the background of our minds, can greatly influence how we show up in the world. Sometimes our thoughts and personal stories move us towards great things and spectacular achievements. At other times that internal chatter can limit us drastically in our careers, intimate relationships and in pursuing our goals. Come and practice re-scripting those internal messages to be more supportive and encouraging in an effort to be more courageous in our lives.  


Jillian McManus’s clinical expertise includes individual and family counseling, anxiety/depression, health management/health psychology, juvenile delinquency, parenting, stress management, organizational development, workplace consultations, training, and managing transitions utilizing a holistic, approach to care. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker with the Arizona Board of Behavior Health Examiners.   

Dr. McManus has held her current role at ASU since July 2007, providing oversight to the Employee Assistance Office, Employee Wellness and Work-Life programs at ASU. She also works in conjunction with the Integrative Health Center in Phoenix as a mind-body practitioner in a multi modal primary care practice focusing on the emotional component of living with chronic health conditions.     

Lynette MendozaHands-on Self Defense

Lynette Mendoza, owner/instructor, MX Martial Arts Academy

Join Lynette Mendoza and her partner from MX Martial Arts Academy in Gilbert as she demonstrates some basic self-defense techniques drawn from mixed martial arts.

Joni AdamsonFamily History and Sense of Place
Joni Adamson
Professor of English and environmental humanities, Department of English, ASU

". . . Places tell us much about the values we hold and at the same time affect the quality of the lives that we lead . . . a well-cultivated sense of place is an important dimension of human well-being." --D.W. Meinig, The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes

In this workshop, we will explore family history by writing about a specific place connected to our lives. Was there a specific place connected to your family history? Did you have a secret hiding place? Where did you grow up? Can you describe your house? Your town? Your region? What role did your family’s culture, ethnicity, history, and/or religion play in shaping your sense of place?

We will begin the workshop by drawing a “map.” These “maps” do not have to be geographically correct or drawn to scale. They do not have to accurately represent the landscape, or your homeplace, although they might. Our maps will represent a special place as we remember it or as it was experienced by your forebearers. What landmarks were important to your grandparents, to your parents, to you? What were the important paths and routes of travel? What were your special places and hideouts? Did any imaginary people inhabit your landscape?

We will draw our maps on a large sheet of paper, share some of them, and discuss how we might use our maps as a starting point for a genre of writing that is developing as an important and popular nonfiction prose genre in America: the essay which focuses on human relation to place. We will explore the ways in which family histories become deeper and richer when they are set in specific places and when the writer understands the relationship between writing, history and place. We will also examine how our perceptions of place are shaped by inherited cultural and literary paradigms and how "discovery" of place is related to discovery of the self, the family, and our culture.


Joni Adamson is professor of English and environmental humanities in the Department of English and a senior sustainability scholar with the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.  She also directs the Environmental Humanities Certificate and is an inaugural affiliate of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.   

Cassandra AskaActualizing Dreams: Making Change Happen

Cassandra Aska, EdD
Associate Dean of Students, ASU’s West campus

This session will challenge you to think about actualizing your dreams one decision at a time. Prepare yourself to be encouraged to take ownership of your dream without fear of failure or disappointment. The process towards reaching the dream is a journey that further defines and refines who you are and why your dream matters.  


Cassandra Aska, once a first-generation college student (she was born in New York to Haitian immigrants), has been an educator for 19 years, connecting students and professionals to their passions while supporting their success through personal and professional mentorship. Aska believes that each person can be a leader, and leadership begins with the acknowledgement and honor of one’s own strengths and abilities. She has presented at regional and national conferences, served as a resident faculty for leadership programs, and facilitated workshops and trainings.  

Carol JohnstonTwo Must-Take Vitamin Supplements and Why

Carol Johnston, PhD, RD
Professor and Associate Director, ASU Nutrition Program

Medical doctors from Johns Hopkins recently concluded ‘Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements’ (December 2013 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine).  I, along with other nutrition experts from some of the top nutrition programs in the country [Harvard, Tufts, and UC Davis], strongly disagree. There are two vitamins in particular that even healthy individuals should consider taking on a regular basis. This talk will present the evidence demonstrating the efficacy and safety of supplementing vitamins C and B12. 


Carol Johnston, an award-winning teacher and active researcher, has published 100+ research articles and book chapters and is often quoted in popular magazines reporting nutrition news. She is an expert in vitamin C metabolism, the medicinal use of vinegar, high protein/low carbohydrate diets for weight loss, and vegetarian diets.  She currently chairs the Institutional Review Board at ASU, which oversees human subject research and she has received several national awards from the American College of Nutrition for her professional and academic accomplishments.  

Dayna MathewsLeveraging LinkedIn to Brand and Network Your Way to Success

Dayna Mathews
Career & Personal Branding Strategist

So, you have a LinkedIn profile. Great! But do you really understand how to use the platform to help you create a memorable personal brand so you can get what you want in your career? Maybe. Have you gotten results using LinkedIn yet? Possibly.

I've created this workshop for those who have a profile, but haven't completely figured what to do with it yet. They haven't optimized their profile to make sure that people actually take notice of it and want to talk with them. This is a great session those who say, "Yeah, I have a LinkedIn, but I'm not sure what to do with it" or "I just don't get how this can actually work!" or "I haven't gotten any results from it, so I don't give it much time." Lastly, it's for people who want to create a massively successful personal brand using this amazing (free) platform.

You’ll learn …
1. The top 5 mistakes professionals make on LinkedIn and how to avoid them.
2. How to exponentially increase your network with people you actually know. 
3. How to approach important people in a way that gets you more results.
4. The lesser-known features that allow you to quickly expand your network and get results.
5. How to make your profile stand out amongst the sea of other professionals in your field. 

And we’ll have some fun along the way, too.


Dayna Mathews, career and personal branding specialist for kick-ass, heart-centered women at Dayna Marie Coaching, has helped more than 500 people since 2009 on their path to creating a successful career. Not only does Mathews create powerfully branded resumes and coach on interview skills and job-search strategies, but she also helps women figure out what they really want. She gets down deep to help bring forth your true self so you can better brand yourself and stand out in the crowd. Mathews is a die-hard LinkedIn junkie, creating profiles that attract the right attention and providing hands-on training to help you get what you want. She is a hockey-obsessed, northern Minnesota native with a love for writing and inspiring women to play the lead role in creating the lives they've always wanted.    

Personal Management Strategies to ROCK Your Career!

Jennifer RhodesJennifer Rhodes
Career Specialist Senior, ASU’s Tempe campus

Position yourself for professional opportunities in this interactive, skill-building session to rock your career! This session will draw from the wisdom shared in “Take the Lead” and Dr. Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” Participants will map career aspirations and goals, discuss obstacles holding them back, draft a personal mission statement, and develop a plan of action. While participants will have a chance to answer some of their own personal career development questions through insights developed in this session, they will also be parting with the question, “Why not me?!” when it comes to leadership roles and promotions.


Jennifer Rhodes, who joined ASU in 2011 from Yavapai College, has worked as a student affairs professional for nearly 13 years and has experience in admissions counseling, academic advising, and career counseling. Rhodes enjoys working with college students in many different capacities, but especially college career advising where she can assist diverse students with discovering their values, interests, skills, and passions.  She has provided professional career development presentations to various audiences—including members of Arizona Women in Higher Education and the ASU Alumni Association.  Rhodes is a Nationally Certified Counselor and past president of the Arizona Career Development Association.  

Shirley WeisPlaying to Win in Business

Shirley Weis
President, Weis Associates, management strategy and leadership development consulting firm; Special Advisor to the  President at ASU; Professor of Practice, W. P. Carey School of Business and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation

Life is made up of games. How we play, understanding the rules, being resilient in the losses and knowing when to leave the game are all part of Shirley Weis’ new book Playing to Win in Business.  Her presentation will engage, empower and connect you to what it takes to play and to win!  Expertly designed for senior and mid-career leaders, this special presentation is sure to be a game-changer in your professional and personal development.


Shirley Weis recently retired from her role as vice president and chief administrative officer for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where she oversaw 60,000 employees and coordinated overall institutional strategy and operation of Mayo Clinic’s $9 billion healthcare system. Weis has held a number of clinical and administrative leadership positions in her 40-year career including chair of Administrative Services for Mayo Clinic in Arizona, chair of the Mayo Clinic Managed Care Department, COO for Blue Care Network Mid-Michigan, and emergency services manager for a Lansing, Mich., healthcare system. Professor Weis has a broad academic and teaching background, having taught healthcare leadership at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Michigan State University, Winona State University and for the Michigan Hospital Association.      

Kristen CarstensenHow to Build Up Your Credit Score

Kristen Carstensen
State, University, and SEG Program Manager; Arizona State Credit Union

You’ll learn how your credit score is determined, what's in a credit report, and how you can build and maintain positive credit.


Kristen Carstensen has worked in the financial services industry for 12 years, spending the majority of her time managing branches of local credit unions. Carstensen’s passion is educating people in her community through financial literacy. She has helped young children, college students, and adults throughout the Valley learn basic money management and budgeting skills.
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