Women Lead Spokane



WOMEN LEAD Spring Conference

Join us March 13, 2024 at Gonzaga University


Your conference ticket includes: 

  • All conference speakers and workshops

  • Networking opportunities

  • Complimentary one-on-one coaching (pre-registration required)

  • Highly interactive and engaging format

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Conference Agenda:





Our Speakers


Melanie Ho

Melanie Ho, Ph.D. is an award-winning author and professional speaker who combines over 20 years of leadership experience in complex organizations with her perspective as an artist and multi-media storyteller. She delivers unique workshops and keynotes that help audiences achieve bolder transformations by starting with today's most important leadership concepts and then bringing them to life through the power of art and storytelling. Prior to her current work, Melanie served as SVP of Research at EAB Global, an education technology and services firm in Washington, DC (formerly part of The Advisory Board Company), where she led a team of 100+ consultants that provided strategic and operational advice to 1500+ higher education institutions worldwide.

Her recent book, Beyond Leaning In: Gender Equity and What Organizations are Up Against, received a silver medal in the 2022 Axiom Awards recognizing the world’s best business books, and has been acclaimed by Kirkus Reviews as “an engaging evolution of Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ mantra.” Also a visual artist, Melanie has drawn dozens of comics about the challenges that women face at work. She received her PhD in English from UCLA, where she taught literature, visual culture, and leadership and earned the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Janette (“J”) Atkins

j has a diverse background with over 23 years of experience in product creation; from 3D model making to rapid prototyping and has held positions across various key functions; including, product development, marketing, consumer research and innovation. Over 20 of those years were at adidas working on highly visible franchise products that included footwear for elite athletes such as Damian Lillard, James Harden, Chelsea Gray, and Haley Van Lith. However, the projects she’s most proud of never made it to market… They were projects centered around representation, language, disruptive innovation strategies addressing the gender gap of performance product, and the importance of broadening our definition of success to be diverse and inclusive. These projects included conversations

with women and girls across sport and age that fostered a greater sense of purpose as well as a commitment to building paths for a more equitable future...

Her unconventional journey of moxie and grit includes a foundation of strong relationships, and she often refers to herself as an ‘Expert Generalist.’ It’s her accumulative experience that enables her to build thoughtful solutions that move seamlessly between strategy and tactical execution.

Her relentless quest to explore, learn, and evolve personally and professionally has generated unique opportunities from crypto tech and managing NFTs to working with small local brands to reimagine what’s possible. Currently she’s the Vice President of Spokane Zephyr FC leading the Women’s side of the business with a keen focus on building equity for women in sport; knowing the value goes beyond monetary measurement.

j is also the co-owner of Abrasives Spokane, with her wife Nicole Materne and was an adjunct professor in 2023 at Gonzaga University teaching EDPE 205: Sport in a Diverse Society.



Lindsay Gordon

Lindsay is an award-winning career coach for analytically minded people who want to stop doing what they think is "right" in their career and start doing what's right for them. She helps senior leaders structure their thinking and decide whether it's time to move on, so they can move forward with their career and life.

Lindsay started her career working as a recycled water engineer in Melbourne, Australia before landing at Google doing technical support for the Google Apps team. After 5 years of technical support, she transitioned into career development at Google before starting her own business.

In 2021, Lindsay was named to the Forbes Next 1000 list and she has been featured in publications and podcasts such as Business Insider, Thrive Global, How to Be Awesome at Your Job, and Side Hustle School. Lindsay holds a BS in Bioengineering from The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, a Core Strengths Coaching Certificate from San Francisco State University, and is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. She loves applying her engineering brain to baking complicated pastries, barbershop singing, and helping people find careers that fit.

Ashley Davis

Ashley Davis

Ashley holds a Master’s degree in Adult and Organization Learning and Leadership and a Bachelor’s degree in International Business. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Leadership Studies. Following a two-year stint in international business in China, Ashley has dedicated the past 13 years to the field of international education. In her current capacity as the Director of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at Gonzaga, Ashley oversees the operations of ISSS including ensuring the quality of services, promoting the wellbeing of international community, and overseeing immigration compliance. In these various capacities, Ashley has worked with thousands of international community members from more than 100 countries.

Kitara Johnson

Kitara Johnson Jones

Kitara Johnson is an esteemed leader in Diversity and Inclusion, recognized nationally as one of the Top 100 Chief Diversity Officers in the United States by the National Leadership Council on Diversity and Inclusion in 2021. She identifies herself as a modern-day Griot and community leader, advocating for the belief that community is a place of belonging for everyone. Kitara currently holds the position of Chief People Officer at Excelsior Wellness, managing the Office of Human Resources and the Office of Outreach and Community Engagement. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Applied Science in Workforce Education and Development, a Master's in Organizational Leadership and Management, and a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion for Human Resources from Cornell University. Renowned as an executive consultant and national speaker on Inclusion and Organizational Culture, Kitara excels at creating inclusive workplace environments. Her approach is a blend of hands-on experience and deep insights into workforce diversity, behavioral, and organizational psychology, making her a valuable asset in today's diverse and dynamic professional landscape.


Roisin Lally, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies

Róisín Lally PhD., is an Irish philosopher and Assistant Professor in the Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University. She is an Associate Editor for Philosophy & Epistemology International Journal on the editorial board of Gathering: The Heidegger Circle Annual. She teaches and publishes at the intersection of ethics, environment, feminism, and science and technology in relation to leadership.


Juanita Roesler

Juanita Roesler is a seasoned speaker and an experienced human resource professionalHaving served in a human resource capacity in government, for-profit, and non-profit organizations, she is passionate about creating inclusive organizations where people thrive collectively and as individuals. An engaging, authentic speaker, Juanita has presented impactful workshops at Gonzaga University’s Women Lead conferences (Spokane and Seattle) and other business eventsShe served on the Washington State Human Resource Council for SHRM, was part of Prime Time Mentoring with Spokane School District, and is currently on the Human Resource Advisory board for the Gonzaga University Business Administration HR concentration. Juanita is a graduate of Eastern Washington University, a wife to her spouse, Mike, and a mom to two young boys, Kai and Benton.

Heather Stratford

Heather Stratford

Heather is a national thought-leader in Training and TechnologyShe is the founder and CEO of Drip7 — an enterprise software for cybersecurity and compliance education headquartered in Spokane, WA. She has started and exited several technology companies. Heather has written and been quoted in Forbes, Washington Examiner, The G7 Summit official publication, Security Magazine, Security Technology Executive, Authority Magazine, Training Industry Magazine. She has consulted and spoken for the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Federal, State and Local governments, Morgan Stanley, Stanford, The University of Chicago, General Motors and SABIC (Saudi Arabian Oil). She has a passion for including more women and diversity in entrepreneurial start-ups and technology. Heather is a National Tory Burch fellow, graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, recipient of the Women in Business Leadership Award, and the top 23 Business Influencers of 2023 award. Heather and her husband Bill are active in their faith, have 5 children, enjoy traveling and riding their motorcycles.

Jen Westra

Jen Westra

Jen (Coach/Owner, Life on Purpose Coaching) is on a mission to help women unlearn limiting stories and beliefs so they can be unstoppable! As an ICF-certified coach, she works with women who doubt themselves and second-guess their decisions and helps them create lives of passion, purpose and possibility. She is also a proud graduate of the first cohort of the Gonzaga University Certificate in Women’s Leadership program!

Jill Yashinsky Wortman

Jill Yashinsky Wortman

Jill Yashinsky-Wortman is the owner of Momentum Coaching & Consulting, LLC and a Professional Certified Coach, the second highest coaching certification offered by the International Coaching Federation. She has coached women in almost every field imaginable, from college students to retirees, moms trying to re-discover themselves to women leading the C-suite, teachers, lawyers, doctors, administrators, fellow coaches, and more. She specializes in coaching women to overcome self-doubt, set boundaries, cultivate self-trust, explore new perspectives, and live in their authenticity. Her ideal clients are leaders, bad assess, and women who are thirsty to be bad assess in their personal and professional lives.

Jill has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from St. Norbert College and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. She trained as a coach at the Co-Active Training Institute, one of the oldest and most respected coaching training schools in the world. Jill is also a certified Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner and trained Playing Big Facilitator.


Jillian LaBelle

Jillian joined the faculty of the School of Business Administration in January 2019. Prior to becoming a lecturer, Jillian spent six years at Moss Adams in Spokane as a tax accountant. She primary worked on individual, S-Corporation, and partnership clients. Jillian is currently serving as secretary on the local board of the Washington State Society of CPAs. She also volunteers on the AICPA Young Member Leadership Committee. Jillian is married with two kids and spends her free time biking, paddle boarding, and at the lake with her family.


Chris Stevens

I am interested in how ideas are formed, organizations are created, and how those organizations create change in our world through the power of enterprise. I teach on topics in entrepreneurship, social enterprise, nonprofit management, strategic management, marketing and innovation, and leadership, and I focus on opportunities for my students to learn through practice. My research focuses on how organizations make sense of their identities, values, and missions, how entrepreneurs and their organizations confront failure, and how entrepreneurship can be used to make our world a more equitable and sustainable place.


Masha Tackett

Hailing from Siberia, Russia, Maria uses her experience in class discussions, giving students an opportunity to see the effect of Economics on the everyday lives of people not only in the U.S. but also in other countries. Maria strives for her students to gain skills they would be able to use after the class is over, be it upper-level courses, internships, jobs, or understanding how the economy works and making decisions based on the knowledge in various aspects of their lives.



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