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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, May 13, 2018 1:00 am

Women-only forum set for 1st Friday in June

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Fridays are for leaders.

Networking. Sharpening skills. That's the concept of an initiative organized last summer that is hosting Karen Pence's former chief of staff at a June 1 forum.

Brenda Gerber Vincent will speak at a free, women-only event that First Fridays is holding at Sweetwater Sound. Seating is limited, and those interested in attending must RSVP through for the 8 a.m. event. More information is available at

Vincent, a Fort Wayne native, also served with then-Gov. Mike Pence as a bicentennial commissioner.

She is currently chief development officer at Lifeline Youth & Family Services and Crosswinds and is the co-founder of Carriage House in Fort Wayne, which helps adults with mental illness in their recovery.

In December 2016, when Pence had become vice president-elect, he awarded Vincent with the Sagamore of the Wabash, given to individuals with distinguished service.

On June 1, Vincent will be speaking on “Leading Your Best Life.”

Jim Johnson, one of the founders of First Fridays, said he initially met Vincent because of a work connection his wife has with her. Vincent has since provided mentoring to Johnson and to women on his leadership team at a local credit union.

“I consider her to be a treasure here in our part of the state,” Johnson said Thursday.

The room where Vincent will speak at Sweetwater has 300 seats. As of Thursday morning, Johnson said there were about 80 seats left.

“I'm anticipating it will be a full house,” he said.

First Fridays also has a lineup listed on its website of more than half a dozen other leaders scheduled for events over the next year. 

Johnson and his brother Jere Johnson, a former basketball coach and athletic director, created First Fridays in August last year, based on a passion about leadership. 

Learning from other women

Normally I try to provide brief mentions of books within a month or two of their release. But with Mother's Day being celebrated today, I ran across a 2017 release worth noting. In looking at that, I also saw a more recent release geared toward women with lofty leadership goals.

“Leadership Lesson from Mom” by Mark Villareal, released last year, focuses on the impact of what one man learned throughout life from his mother.

The lessons demonstrate a mother's “concern and determination to teach the values of good character that sustain her son through the challenges of life, business and adulthood,” a book synopsis says. “The author correlates the lessons to business leadership and is a testament of the impact that all mothers make.”

In March, author Jennifer Palmieri released “Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World.”

Palmieri was a communications director for Hillary Clinton, who ran unsuccessfully for the nation's top executive job. A book description says “Dear Madam President” provides advice for “women who are determined to seize control of their lives – from the boardroom to the living room.”

An introduction for the book warns there will be many challenges for women. “World and congressional leaders will test you. America will judge you differently than it did your predecessors. People will scrutinize you, your ambitions, your choice of clothes. You are a unique individual, yet you will be expected to represent every woman. Be conscious of it, but keep a positive attitude.”

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in a list of reviews credited toward the book, describes “Madam President” as something “that every parent should encourage their daughters and their sons to read.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at