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Living and Leading in a Connected World: The Policy Circle Leadership Summit Recap

On Friday, November 15, engaged community members, Circle leaders, and influencers from across the country convened in Chicago for the 4th Policy Circle Leadership Summit. More than 350 women and men participated in conversations and workshops that encouraged them to think about the broader implications of living and leading in a connected world. They embraced opportunities to expand their influence through honing their leadership and engagement skills, while also exploring their own personal responsibility in shaping their communities. 

In the morning, participants investigated how connected we really are and heard from leading minds in cyber and national security, such as Admiral Michael Rogers, former NSA Director, and Cyndi Gula, Founder of Tenable Network Security, on the roles of business and government in data security.  Attendees explored how connectivity impacts our physical and virtual safety, our businesses, our relationships with one another, and even our healthcare system

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma was interviewed by Laura Cox Kaplan via video, which was shared with attendees. In the video, Verma and Kaplan discussed lowering health care costs while also providing quality care for patients and empowering innovation in the market. When it comes to the role of government in health care, Verma noted that government should create a competitive market, but not be one of the competitors in that system, commenting: 

“It’s important that Americans be in charge of their own healthcare. Our approach at CMS is to put patients first and make it easier for everyday Americans to use the systems.” 

This was the same morning that the White House announced an executive order on improving price and quality transparency for Americans. 

Summit participants then dove deeper into healthcare and the pricing system with Kate Baicker, Dean at the University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy, and The Policy Circle co-founder Angela Braly, before hearing from Chamberlain Group’s Joanna Garcia Sohovich, all of whom brought to life discussions on privacy, home security and convenience in an increasingly digitally-driven world.

During an inspiring lunch panel, Karen Wells of the AIW group interviewed  Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Promise Fund, and Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, Founder of the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Foundation, about the intersection of technology, policy and personal passions in the fight to eradicate cancer. Ambassador Brinker, who joined the conference by phone, discussed the power of starting small to accomplish something big. Dr. Green shared the story of her aunt’s fight with cancer, which inspired her to put her physics background to use in developing high-tech advancements that target, image, and treat tumors, and could reduce patient suffering during treatment. 

Breakout sessions in the afternoon provided an opportunity for everyone – circle members, community leaders, neighbors, professionals, and executives – to hone their leadership skills and personal interests, and engage in thoughtful dialogue. Participants did not shy away from engaging in complex discussions or  interacting with elected officials. They jumped at the opportunity to grow their brand and network and establish themselves as a civic leader.

They took the time to think about their own impact in life and work by building a strategic life plan, listening to advice from former Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison. Morrison discussed with Emcee Hillary Sawchuk the landscape for women in the C-Suite, noting that at the bottom of the career pyramid the split between men and women is about even, and as you move to the top of the pyramid to the CEO level, less than 5 percent of CEOs are women. The key to getting more women to that level? Setting high goals while also  thinking strategically about how you’ll get there. As Morrison says:

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” 

Summit participants left with a sense of energy and commitment to influence their world, becoming more informed citizens along the way. 

About The Policy Circle

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Founded in 2015, The Policy Circle provides a fact-based, nonpartisan framework that inspires women living in the same community to connect, learn about and discuss public policies that impact every American. The Policy Circle’s vision is that women across the nation are connected and engaged in their communities, openly sharing their views and taking a leadership role in public policy dialogue on what human creativity can accomplish in a free market economy. 

In just four  years, The Policy Circle has grown to over 3,500 members in more than 296 Circles in 40 states and 3 continents. Based on organic networks of women, it is one of the fastest growing national organizations empowering women to gain the knowledge and confidence to become policy leaders.