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Women's Leadership Symposium


The Women’s Leadership Symposium is a forum for participants within the California State University San Marcos community to connect, explore and engage in topics on women’s leadership and empowerment. This year's theme is focused on "The Future is Intersectional."

Rooted in the philosophies of intersectional feminism, we recognize that while all women experience oppression, we also all experience oppression in varying forms based on race, age, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, etc. With that in mind, we want everyone at the Women's Leadership Symposium to feel supported, included, and represented.  

We are intentionally inclusive of transgender, nonbinary, intersex, gender non-conforming, and male-identified individuals.

We will seek to provide participants the opportunity to learn more about their individual identities and the unique influences they have on their leadership styles.

Networking and teambuilding activities will allow students to build a positive and supportive network of diverse women who vary across professional disciplines and life experiences. With these new experiences and community, student participants will know to challenge the limitations placed on women and will have the confidence and strength to empower others.

WHEN: Saturday, March 4th at 9:30 AM - 2 PM

WHERE: USU Ballroom 

RSVP: Register by Wednesday, March 1st! Registration is FREE and open to all currently enrolled CSUSM community members with a special focus on students. Only students can receive our swag items being that our funding is supported by student fees. 

All registered CSUSM students are encouraged to participate. CSUSM does not consider sex, gender, or any other protected status as part of the registration process. Providing one's pronouns is OPTIONAL and is not required or considered part of the registration process for one's attendance at the symposium. 

Questions? Email:   

2023 Schedule Overview 

  • 2023 Event Agenda
    9:30 AM - 10 AM

    Continental Breakfast

    10 AM - 11 AM

    Opening Keynote with Denea Joseph

    11 AM - 12 PM

    Breakout Workshop Sessions:

    1. Journaling for Resilience - USU 3200 (WGEC)
    2. Your Financial Journey: Your Financial Future Starting Today - USU Ballroom A
    3. Balancing Leadership & Life - USU Ballroom C

    12 PM - 1 PM

    Networking Lunch 

    1 PM - 2 PM 

    Breakout Workshop Sessions: 

    1. How We Rise - USU 3200 (WGEC)
    2. Finding Passion in Social Justice Activism - USU Ballroom A
    3. Memories Unleashed: A Writing Workshop - USU Ballroom C
  • Keynote Speaker: Denae Joseph
    Denae Joseph

    Denea (pronounced Denae) Joseph (she/her) is an undocumented Black DACA recipient and national immigrant rights activist. She immigrated to the United States at seven years old from Belize, Central America. It wasn’t until her junior year of high school that she realized the challenges she would face as a result of her immigrant identity. However, she was accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she commuted from South Los Angeles to Westwood because of the financial limitations for undocumented youth in higher education. Nevertheless, Denea persisted.

    As an undergraduate at UCLA, Denea advocated for the creation of an immigration attorney position on campus and increased sustainable financial aid for undocumented youth across the University of California system. Additionally, as a Young People For(YP4) fellow, Denea developed a social justice blueprint to address undocumented access and retention in institutions of higher learning.

    Denea is a regularly sought-after media commentator on immigration issues and has been vocal about her undocumented and Black experiences. She has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Essence, Vogue, The Guardian, and The Los Angeles Magazine's historic immigration issue, among others.

    Denea attended the 2018 State of the Union address as the guest of California Senator Kamala Harris. Denea has been serving as the Vice President for the Black Los Angeles Young Democrats (BLAYD), California Ambassador for the United State of Women (USOW),  and most recently worked as the communications coordinator for the UndocuBlack Network (UBN) where she advocated for the representation of UndocuBlack immigrants within the mainstream immigrant narrative. She aspires to be a human rights attorney, advocating for the rights of the most marginalized around the globe.


  • Journaling for Resilience with Mayra Canchola
    Mayra Canchola

    Mayra Canchola (she/they) was raised in Escondido, CA. Growing up as the oldest daughter in a low-income, Mexican household guides Mayra’s mantra, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” Mayra earned their B.A. in Psychological Science with a minor in Women’s Studies from CSUSM and is now serving as the Latinx Center's Cultura STEM Coordinator, where they work to engage with Latine students in STEM and help them find community and support through validation. In her spare time, Mayra enjoys nature walks, quality time with friends, and outdoing everyone at karaoke. 

    Journaling for Resilience: We've all experienced hardships in our lifetime. But how do we get through them? Their workshop will introduce participants to the concept of resilience, the ability to "bounce back" from trauma, and how to use journaling as a coping mechanism to manifest resilience and be able to validate our own experiences. 

  • Your Financial Journey: Your Financial Future Starting Today with Betty Lou Santiago
    Betty Lou Santiago

    Betty Lou Santiago (she/her) was born and raised in North County San Diego. She has been in the banking industry for 15 years, she started as a teller and moved her way up to management and now works as a community manager for Chase Bank. As a community manager, she partners with organizations in North County to provide financial education on important topics such as savings, credit, and home buying. She also likes to volunteer with San Diego organizations such as Junior Achievement and San Diego Financial Literacy Center that bring financial education to school classrooms. In her free time, she likes to go hiking, journal, and spend time with her family and Bunny.

    Your Financial Journey: Your Financial Future Starting Today: Her workshop will go over one's values and how they translate into our financial habits, learn about smart goals to reach financial goals, and learn about starting and managing credit. Participants will understand how your values show up in your finances, have a plan for your financial goals, and understand how credit works.

  • Balancing Leadership and Life with Lilly Schaefer

    Lilly Schaefer (she/her) is a current college junior working towards a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. She serves as the CSTEM (College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Student Org Council Vice-Chair and as the treasurer of the CSUSM’s chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics. She is working towards becoming a leader and a mentor for future young women to inspire and promote the next generation of programmers and computer scientists! She believes that being a leader at an early age and inspiring others is key to being able to build a strong community of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) women who will help make the world a better place. She has previously worked for E-Money financial advisor as a summer intern as well as a social media manager for a small business. She is inspired by her friends and family who support her and in her free time enjoys video games, crafting, and working out.

    Balancing Leadership and Life: Finding balance as a woman in leadership and what tools can be used to find that imbalance. Identifying what imbalances you may currently be struggling with now and ways to address that and find ways to manage that imbalance. Participants will find tools to help them manage everything, create a support system within the community and learn how to prioritize themselves. 

  • Memories Unleashed: A Writing Workshop with Maria Jungers & Danica Morris

    Danica and Maria


    Maria Jungers (she/her) is a writer, yoga teacher, and Founder/Editor in Chief of In Her Space Journal-a literary journal dedicated to uplifting the underrepresented voices of women. She is a proud Filipina/American first-generation graduate from CSUSM and holds a B.A. in Literature and Writing Studies. 

    Danica Morris (she/her) is a writer, poet, and co-founder of [inherspacejournal]. Morris was born and raised in San Diego, California, a place she still calls home today. She uses writing as a form of expression, gaining power and strength to write about life’s adversities while also celebrating the little things we tend to forget along the way. She hopes to inspire other women who connect with her through shared experiences and hopes to encourage others to protect their peace through ways of writing. In her free time, she enjoys baking and finding new coffee shops to try. 

    Memories Unleashed: A Writing Workshop: As women, storytelling is an essential part of who we are. It empowers and uplifts us to band together as a community. Unfortunately, many of us have been silenced and unable to tell our own stories-good or bad. Memories Unleashed: A Writing Workshop will help dig up these buried stories through memory and cultivating the five senses.

  • Finding Passion in Social Justice Activism with Karla Aguilar & Relle Goan

    Karla Aguilar & Relle


    Karla Aguilar (she/they) is a Social Work Case Manager for YMCA Youth Family Services. She is a First-Generation Mexican American Queer college graduate. Her primary focus is serving young adults within LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. Karla has several years of experience working with LGBTQ+/BIPOC communities including working for the Women and Gender Equity Center, Co-Founding Escondido Pride, and now working for the YMCA. Karla graduated from CSUSM with a Sociology Degree and hopes to continue their educational journey by getting a master's in Social Work in the near future.

    Relle Goan (she/they) is Nonbinary and Queer and works as a Social Work Case Manager at YMCA Youth Family Service, within an LGBTQ program called Intersections. Intersections serve LGBTQ/POC Young Adults. Within Intersections as a Social Work Case Manager, Relle supervises Intersection's Youth Employment Program which gives paid work experience to LGBTQ/POC young adults to work within their own communities. Previously, Relle worked as a Program Director and as a Program Coordinator for an LGBTQ youth department within an LGBTQ resource center for seven years, developing supportive and social programming for LGBTQ youth. Relle has a Bachelor's Degree from CSUSM in Sociology. 

    Finding Passion in Social Justice Activism: They will be sharing their stories about being CSUSM alumni and how they got to their positions at the YMCA. They will share how their work impacts the community, how to get involved and learn more about the services they provide for LGBTQ+ young adults in North County. Participants will learn how to get involved in social justice work.

  • How We Rise with Chyna Oyola
    Chyna Oyola

    Chyna Oyola (they/them) is a UC Davis alum with a B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and has a passion for the field of education. They are a First Generation, Queer, Child of Immigrants currently pursuing their Master’s Degree in Student Affairs at SDSU. In their most recent position as a College Advisor, they advocated for greater educational equity for 9-12 students which ignited their desire to work in community empowerment and advocacy. Originally hailing from Clovis, New Mexico, they consider California their home and love traveling. If they’re not crafting something at home, you can probably catch them visiting National Parks. If you want to get to know them, share your favorite Bruno Mars or Beyonce song and they’re sure to sing (and probably also dance to) it with you.

    How We Rise: Have you fallen off track for your 2023 intentions? Don’t worry, we’re all doing our best and this workshop is here to help you. “How We Rise” is a workshop based upon the book “How Women Rise” and together we’ll discuss the 12 habits that may be holding you back from reaching your next big goals. Through community dialogue, we’ll share methods of breaking these habits to ensure we rise!  


2023 Planning Committee Members

  • Chair: Alycia McGeever (she/her/hers)
    Alycia McGeever

    Chair: Alycia McGeever is the Interim Coordinator of the Women and Gender Equity Center (WGEC). She is a UC Irvine alum with a BA in Sociology and Education Sciences. She started her Student Affairs career at CSUSM as a Graduate Assistant in 2019. She received her Master's in Postsecondary Educational Leadership from SDSU in 2021. Working at the WGEC is a dream come true as it combines her love of intersectional feminism and student advocacy! Before working at CSUSM, she worked for Girl Scouts and Girls Incorporated empowering young women to believe in themselves. She enjoys traveling, exploring new food spots, and baking! 

  • Faculty Representative: Dr. Mikee Inton-Campbell (she/her/hers)
    Mikee WLS Photo

    Dr. Mikee Inton-Campbell is assistant professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at California State University San Marcos where she teaches Trans and Queer of Color Studies. Her work centers on trans representation in Philippine and Asian film and media. She is also a board member of the Society of Trans Women of the Philippines (STRAP) and a senior fellow at the Center for Applied Trans Studies (CATS).

  • Staff Representative: Nancy Santiago (she/her/ella)

    Nancy Santiago is a CSUSM Alumni! She currently serves as the Budget & Operations Specialist for the Dean of Students. She completed her undergrad in Business Administration with a minor in Spanish in 2014. She has worked in the education industry for over seven years and started her career here at CSUSM three years ago! She is passionate about education, empowering others through education, and encouraging everyone to grow beyond all limitations. She loves all things fitness and loves to learn new things! Her favorite things to do are weight training, yoga, running, and hiking. 

  • Staff Representative: Alexa Diaz (she/her/ella)
    Spring Women's Leadership Symposium  2021 Committee Staff Rep

    Alexa Diaz is the Coordinator of the Academic Success Center (ASC), one of three learning centers housed in the Office of Undergraduate Studies. She is a CSUSM alum, earning her BA in Human Development and Spanish. She held several leadership roles in her undergraduate years for the TRIO SSS Program, First-Year Programs, Student Life and Involvement Center, ASI, and the Tukwut Leadership Circle certificate program. She received her master's in Educational Counseling from SDSU in 2022. Outside of her ASC role, Alexa serves as the secretary for the Latino Association of Faculty and Staff (LAFS) and is on the annual planning committee for CSUSM's annual Cesar Chavez Day of Service. She also serves as a mentor to young females through Project Hero - a program within COMPACT that provides a second chance opportunity for young offenders to reintegrate to school or the workforce. On her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling to tropical places! 

  • Student Representative: Alexis Lopez (she/her/hers)
    Alexis Lopez is a Peer Educator at the Women and Gender Equity Center (WGEC) and a recent transfer to CSUSM. She is studying Social Sciences with her primary subject being Psychology and her secondary subjects being Political Science and Communications. She is passionate about intersectional feminism and creating equity in all levels of education. Since both her parents are teachers, she firmly believes that education can empower all people and make the world a better place! When she isn't reading for her classes Alexis enjoys playing board games, watching cartoons, and shopping at Trader Joe's.