History of Womens Leadership Connection

The Women’s Leadership Connection grew out of conversations between women in our community with a common goal—to see more women represented in leadership roles. What barriers existed? What could be done to remove them?

A coffee date between Jeanne Stallman and Karen Blair kicked off the idea.

A Medford, OR native, Karen was elected to the City Council in November 2010. Jeanne wanted to know what is was like, being the only woman on City Council and the vehemence of her reaction was surprising. Clearly frustrated by the lack of representation by women in elected office locally, Karen wondered why there had only ever been one woman on the City Council at a time.

Around this same time Pauline Brady, then a Medford School Board director, hosted a non-partisan lunch to tackle the very same issue. She cited a study showing that men needed little urging to run for office, while women on average had to be asked seven times before they would even begin to consider the possibility.

Months later at a University Club lunch, Jeanne recounted these conversations and made an off-the-cuff comment that perhaps we needed some kind of an event or conference to encourage more women to step forward as community leaders. Retired Southern Oregon University president Elisabeth Zinser, standing nearby, turned sharply and said with vehemence, “Yes! That is exactly what we need!” Clearly, there were some very strong feelings.

And so on June 4, 2012, Jeanne Stallman invited a small group of community leaders at the Higher Education Center to explore the idea of a Women’s Leadership Conference. The idea was cemented when Patsy Smullin, owner of California-Oregon Broadcasting, whipped out her checkbook and offered to write a check right then and there to get the ball rolling. The Women’s Leadership Conference was off and running!

From the very beginning, it was determined that this event would focus on practical application, not a theory of leadership. The founders sought to inspire more women to step into leadership roles in business and community locally. Although the focus was women supporting women, the committee elected to define the mission more broadly:

To foster leadership in business, government, and non-profit organizations,
that more fully reflects our community.

The Women’s Leadership Conference strives not only to encourage women to lead; it aims to encourage women to use their voices to ensure leadership opportunities for all.

Board Members

The Women’s Leadership Conference of Southern Oregon strives not only to encourage women to lead; it aims to encourage women to use their voices to ensure leadership opportunities for all. It is with gratitude and enormous respect that we acknowledge our founders and “godmothers.”

Jeanne Stallman

Jeanne Stallman is a Philadelphia native and earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. She started a small business prior to taking on a “temporary” position at Southern Oregon University in the 1990s. Since then she has worked in multiple capacities at SOU, from planning educational travel adventures, managing capital construction, and developing new academic and non-credit programs. Her strong-suit has always been collaboration and strategic planning: Jeanne has a knack for identifying trends, seeing opportunities, and bringing people together to get work done.

Katie Hutchinson

Katie Hutchinson (formerly Shepard) is an Oregon native, who was raised in Nevada and completed undergrad in business at Hawaii Pacific University. She moved back to southern Oregon in 2001 to be with her family, especially her brother who has special needs. Her career began that summer with Easter Seals Oregon, providing practical experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and community relations. In 2011, she attended Southern Oregon University full-time, while still serving as the Area Director for Easter Seals, and successfully earned her Masters in Business Administration in ten months. As times were tough for the nonprofit through 2012, Katie saw the need to make a transition. She was ultimately called to Providence and joined Providence Community Health Foundation as Executive Director in November of 2013. She is proud to serve as a strategic partner and connector for donors, board members, physicians, and administrators to ultimately continue the strong mission of the Sisters of Providence.

Jackie Schad

Former Executive Director of ACCESS, Schad has worked for more than 30 years with nonprofit agencies in a variety of capacities. She has served as president of the Medford Rotary Club, was a member of the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers board, and was co-chair of the 2011 Oregon Nonprofit Leaders Conference.

Susan Cain

Susan Cain joined KPMG Peat Marwick in 1978, retiring as a partner in the San Francisco office in December 1999. While with Peat Marwick she specialized in banking institutions and trust tax services, as well as assuming management responsibilities in human resources and compensation. Cain taught Accounting Studies at Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California from 1983-1985, as well as internal KPMG training and management courses. She graduated with highest honors from Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon in 1976 with a BA in General Science. In 2005 she received her Master’s in Taxation from the Washington Institute for Graduate Studies and School of Law.

Marguerite O’Donoghue-Celeste

Marguerite spent ten years with The Walt Disney Company directing global creative operations for Disney Consumer Products. She also supported Barbara Streisand’s tours.
 Marguerite is a Certified Scrum Master through the Scrum Alliance, an organization focused on “transforming the world of work” through the use of an agile framework for completing complex initiatives that is currently used by Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Founding Godmothers

Patsy Smullin

As president and owner of California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc., Patsy uniquely understands the significance of building an organization that meets the needs of a diverse community. Patsy grew up in Eureka, California and received her Baccalaureate Degree from Oregon State University. Her career in broadcasting, both in front and behind the camera, spans several decades and today includes leadership of five television stations, a cable company based in Central Oregon and a digital HD production company in Medford. She has served as President of the Oregon Association of Broadcasters, President of the Oregon Cable TV Association, and as a board member of the National Association of Broadcasters and the NBC Affiliate Board.

Lyn Hennion

Lyn Hennion is a Private Wealth Advisor and Senior Vice President-Investments of Umpqua Investments, based in Medford, Oregon. Lyn, who started in the business in 1965 as a portfolio analyst with a regional firm in San Francisco, joined Umpqua Investments (formerly known as Strand Atkinson Williams & York) in 1994. Previously, she was a vice president and senior regional manager for the Franklin Templeton mutual funds, based first in Oregon and later in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Sue Kupillas

Sue Kupillas is a native Oregonian who has dedicated herself to public service and “blazing trails” for aspiring leaders from all walks of life. Her early volunteer service roles include District 9 School Board member and State President of the Oregon School Boards Association in 1986. In 1988 Sue was elected Jackson County Commissioner, a role in which she served for 16 years. During that time, she helped to start the White City Community Improvement Association and the White City Urban Renewal Agency, an $84 M project which included a one-stop delivery of state and county services, and eventually served as a prototype for the State of Oregon. Sue considers her efforts to help save the White City Veteran’s Administration Rehabilitation Center (SORCC-Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics) her most professionally gratifying achievement.

Previous Presidents

Peggy Blair

2021 – President

Moneeka Settles

2020 – President

Rhonda Klug

2018 – President
2019 – Co-President

Stacey Derrig

2017 – President
2019 – Co-President

Jodi Rasor

2016 – President

Katie Hutchinson

2015 – President