3 Ways Employers Can Support Women (and We Can Support Ourselves) Now

Tracy Dumas

It’s no secret that working women are facing unsustainable new challenges this year. Many working mothers have lost access to good childcare. Many working women without children are taking on new eldercare responsibilities. And even those without new caregiving demands are burdened by the fears and loneliness of these times.

“Everybody’s lives have been upended. And when your life is upended, it is going to affect your work,” work-life integration expert Tracy Dumas recently said.

Indeed, women with caretaking responsibilities have already begun to drop out of the workforce at alarming rates.

So, what can employers do to help retain quality talent in all the many fields in which women are contributing to the society and the economy—in some areas, at rates of 50 percent or more of the workforce? And what can we do to take better care of ourselves in these extraordinary times?

In an exclusive interview with the Conferences for Women, Dumas, an associate professor of management and human relations at Ohio State University, offered the following suggestions.


What employers can do:

  1. Figure out how you can help with childcare. “Organizations can help by either looking into establishing smaller facilities that employees could use for childcare or providing subsidies—some kind of financial assistance to help employees pay for childcare.”
  2. Focus on deliverables, not schedules. “Be attentive to the limitations employees have and give them a longer rope instead of enforcing a regular workday. Just pay attention to the deliverables and be flexible.”
  3. Think ahead to develop smarter policies and practices. When we are on the other side of this crisis, life will be different than it was before. So companies should start thinking now about what childcare, eldercare, and schooling might look like; how that will affect their employees; and how they can develop flexible, supportive policies and practices.

What you can do:

  1. Ask your company for childcare help. “If your organization hasn’t stepped up to provide child care but has shown a willingness to help, ask for smaller childcare facilities or subsidies.”
  2. Set some boundaries on work hours. “We switched into this new mode with no warning or preparation. And many of us haven’t been intentional about where and how to set boundaries about working at home.” Now, is the time to do that. Think about what you want your working hours to be – and when you can switch off and relax. “Research shows that having time to switch off allows you to come back to work more energized and better able to engage.”
  3. Be intentional about where in your house you work. “If you haven’t previously set aside a space for work at home, this may be a good time to do it. I just did this. Before I had no strategy. I was sitting on the couch for working and sitting on the couch for watching TV. Now, I’ve spruced up my home office a bit and, in general, created more of a boundary to feel more like I’m switching gears. I’m getting up and going to work now. And now I’m leaving my laptop in the office and going to watch TV. It may seem minor but feels different.”

“It is beneficial for anyone with any given task or responsibility to have the opportunity to unplug and recover. There is a whole body of research in organizational psychology on the benefits of recovery—of stepping away and unplugging and allowing yourself to be immersed in something totally different or just plain old rest.”

In other words, in a world in which so much is beyond our control, setting boundaries about when and where we work is something that is in our control that can help us keep our strength and resilience going through this marathon challenge.


IN OTHER NEWS

  • Want some timely virtual networking tips? Yai Vargas, founder of The Latinista, a national network of women and Latina professionals invested in professional development and career mobility, shares her thoughts on the latest episode of Women Amplified. Listen here.
  • Underserved young women are receiving financial and mentoring support this year as the first in their families to attend college—thanks to you and other members of the Conferences for Women community. Interested in helping? Learn more here.
  • Have you secured your ticket to the virtual 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women? If not, learn more here.

More from the September 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |

Creating Your Authentic Personal Brand In These Times – with Yai Vargas

Yai Vargas

COVID-19 has greatly changed the way we network—requiring us to be more innovative than ever, especially with our use of technology.

So, how should you think about building a strong personal brand in this new environment? In this episode, Yai Vargas, branding guru and founder and CEO of The Latinista, offers actionable ways to create an engaging elevator pitch, have a strong presence on Zoom, effectively self-promote and forge powerful relationships so that you can accurately convey your unique value to your advantage now!

 

+LAST CALL Take our listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)


“It’s interesting, growing up as a Latina, an immigrant to this country, I was always taught to be very humble. To be grateful that I have a job, to just keep my head down, work really hard and someone’s going to notice me and I’ll eventually get a raise and a promotion. Well, it doesn’t necessarily work that way in Corporate America as I found out. You have to keep reminding your boss about everything that you’ve been accomplishing throughout the year, because at the end of the year when your evaluation time comes up, your manager’s probably managing 10 or 15 others. They probably don’t know all of the programs you’ve run and excelled at. ”Yai Vargas


 

This Month’s Guest:

JAI VARGAS is a leading multicultural marketing expert with a niche in building marketing strategies and community engagement programs for Fortune 100 corporations seeking to develop programming among their diverse employee resource groups. She offers expert advice, training and development around executive presence, personal branding, LinkedIn and feminine leadership in the workplace. In addition to being a LinkedIn guru and networking ninja, Yai established The Latinista where she gathers and empowers Latina professionals in New York City, Miami and Chicago to upskill in career and leadership development via dynamic workshops. @layai

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me MoreTalk of the NationAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Play
Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Career Choices, Marketing Yourself & Your Small Business, Goals & Priorities, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

Staying Calm In A Crisis: Tips From The Woman Who Faced Down Somali Pirates

Michelle J. Howard

When Admiral Michelle J. Howard was 12, she saw a show about people who attended U.S. military academies and realized that was what she wanted to do.

“You can’t,” her older brother said. “It’s closed to women.”She thought he was messing with her and went to her mother.

“He’s right,” her mom said. “But you’re only 12. You might change your mind. And, if you don’t and want to apply, you should apply. If you don’t get in, we’ll sue the government and take it to the Supreme Court.” Even if it is too late for you to attend, she added, it wouldn’t be for other women.

It proved a powerful lesson for the woman who went on to become the:

  • The highest-ranking woman in U.S. Arms Forces history,
  • Highest ranking African-American and woman in Navy history,
  • First woman to become a 4-star Admiral, and
  • Person in charge when the Navy faced down Somali pirates to rescue Captain Phillips (of Tom Hanks fame.)

We recently caught up with Admiral Howard to ask her advice about how to stay calm in a crisis and lead in these times of great uncertainty. Here are some highlights:

On keeping calm under stress

“My mother and father raised us to take a deep breath. Sometimes, you have to react in seconds—but honestly, not usually unless you’re in combat. I think most people do not give themselves time to breathe. I know it’s not easy but you’ve got to distance yourself from the information you’re receiving. It’s just information. It’s not going to kill you.”

On dealing with the unknown

“I would try to take time, and get my teams to take time, to think about what potential crises could be and then walk our way through how we would respond. If you are surprised by events, give yourself more time for your imagination to work. It’s the art of the long view: identify the worst, best, and middle case scenario. You will go down one of those three avenues or something in between.”

On the commitment to lead

“The most fundamental thing about leadership is you have to choose. You have to decide for yourself whether or not you want to be a leader. It’s not something you are just going to fall into. It has to be something that drives your passion—knowing: I am the right person to get this in a better place. I am the person to make this better.”

On stamina

“I read about women pioneers in the Navy and the 1800s and science; andI and tried to sort through the common characteristics of those who were successful in nontraditional roles. The stamina piece is pretty key: being not necessarily the strongest in the room but as fit as you can be because you need stamina for the journey.”

On traveling light

“A lot of trailblazing women had a wonderful sense of humor. If you can’t see the humor in your unique situation, you add more to your mental burdens. I talk about it as ‘traveling light.’ You could go another way and think: ‘Oh my gosh, I have all these burdens, I just can’t do it.’ You could spend a lifetime focused on all that pain and anguish. And, I suppose you could have a life of satisfaction that way. But you would be missing out on a life of satisfaction tied to success.”

On being yourself

“I have been asked to talk about leadership and women as leaders since I was a mid-grade officer. A lot of times people say talk about yourself. I say talking about myself may not help you. You be the best you. You’re not going to be able to do me right.”

On connecting with other women

“Women pioneers had quilting bees. It was not about the quilt. It was about hooking up with other women. The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the biggest quilting bee!”

LEARN MORE! Admiral Michelle J. Howard will join Golden Globe Award-winning actress Awkwafina, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and more amazing women at the 2020 virtual Massachusetts Conference for Women.

REGISTER NOW

IN OTHER NEWS

  • Anti-Racism: Skills for the Workplace Now. “Anti-racism is a lifestyle that we’re constantly committing to. You have to be anti-racist in the workplace and in your personal life, too…it’s an active belief system in all parts of our lives,” Britt Hawthorne said in a conversation presented by The Massachusetts Conference for Women, The Boston Globe, and State Street. Watch it here.
  • Best of the Archives: Check out the newly released sessions on Best Breakouts, an audio series featuring timeless insights from our archives. Listen here.
  • Highlighting a friend: The Harvard Business Review‘s podcast Women at Work is a trove of information and support for moving your career forward. Catch up on five seasons of conversations on HBR.org or wherever you listen to podcasts, and the team will be back this fall with more stories, interviews, and advice.

More from the August 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Networking, Life Balance, Negotiating, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement, Innovation Tagged , |

Navigating Transitions in Unpredictable Times with Erica Williams Simon

Erica Williams Simon

Making a career pivot can be scary and paralyzing, especially when events transpire that force an unexpected transition.

Covid-19 has left many with lost jobs and time to reflect and reevaluate life and priorities. Others are struggling to succeed at remote work with a disrupted structure and, in many cases, no available childcare.

In this episode, Erica Williams Simon will draw on her personal experiences to share practical strategies to help you shut out the noise, overcome fear of the unknown and identify your next step. Learn how to navigate transition in times of uncertainty, steps you can implement immediately to pivot now and ways to effectively communicate your story.

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana, and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.Erica Williams Simon

NEW: Please take our first-ever listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)

  •  

 

This Month’s Guest:

ERICA WILLIAMS SIMON is a social critic, author, host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” Most recently the former Washington politico and lifelong civil and human rights activist was head of The Creator’s Lab at Snapchat, a first of its kind program that developed inspirational experiences for a global network of young storytellers and creators. The self-described professional question asker is an accomplished moderator and interviewer. She is host of the popular podcast The Call, creator and host of the Rosario Dawson produced digital talk show The Assembly, and author of the book You Deserve the Truth (Simon & Schuster). She has been featured on The Today Show, O Magazine, and the Washington Post and is a frequent TV commentator. She recently moderated conversations with the co-founders of theSkimm at the PA, TX, and Watermark Conferences for Women; she also gave a standalone workshop at the 2020 Watermark Conference for Women in San Jose. @missewill

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as co-host of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Website: Erica Williams Simon

Read the book: You Deserve the Truth

Hear from more great Conferences for Women speakers in our new podcast, Best Breakouts

Play
Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women, Diversity & Inclusion Tagged , |

Why You May Be Better Equipped to Navigate Today’s Changes Than You Think

natural haired black woman smiling while looking away onto the street and thinking

If you’re like many people these days, you’ve been dealing with change as you never did before—changes that you didn’t seek out as the next positive step in your career or personal life but had thrust on you by outside circumstances.

But here’s a little good news:

The skills you need to deal with today’s unexpected changes are the same as the skills you likely have already tapped to create positive changes in your life. In other words, you may be a bit more prepared for the turmoil of 2020 than you think.

“I think the real difference between this type of transition and one initiated by your own desire is just in how you approach it,” Erica Williams Simon says in the newest episode of Women Amplified. “It’s about attitude,” the author of You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories that Shaped Your World and Build a World-Changing Life, says.

“If the life that you thought you were living no longer exists, there’s a moment for grief, a moment to recognize that you weren’t expecting to have to make a shift here. But once you get there, however you get there, you have the power to determine your direction,” she says.

William Simons is host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” She is also using this moment to encourage women to make decisions that align with their needs but also their values, passions, desires, and vision for life.

Some years ago, Simon recognized that she was “successful” by most standards. She was listed on several “30 under 30″ lists as a rising political star and TV commentator. But she wasn’t happy. So, she quit and dove into a period of exploration that helped her understand that there were certain cultural narratives that shaped her idea of what it means to be successful; but they had nothing to do with what she wanted out of life.

Since then, she has been on a mission to help others understand the stories that shape their lives and create new ones that lead to the life they actually want— encouraging women to ask questions, such as: How does it make me feel when I use it? What am I seeking? What validation does it bring me? What is the impact? Does the impact match up with my vision for my life?”

This often takes a lot of experimentation, she says—and, as these times make clear, the need and willingness to pivot and pivot again.

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana [the character in the 2016 Walt Disney movie of the same name] and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.

“I think that’s how you end up in the life that you want, which ultimately—and this is the mind-blowing part for me—may be different than what you think you want today. You only gain that perspective and that insight into what a new dream for yourself could be by living, by experimenting, and by doing.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Erica Williams Simon on Women Amplified.


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Life Balance Tagged , |

Navigating Transitions in Unpredictable Times with Erica Williams Simon

Making a career pivot can be scary and paralyzing, especially when events transpire that force an unexpected transition.

Covid-19 has left many with lost jobs and time to reflect and reevaluate life and priorities. Others are struggling to succeed at remote work with a disrupted structure and, in many cases, no available childcare.

In this episode, Erica Williams Simon will draw on her personal experiences to share practical strategies to help you shut out the noise, overcome fear of the unknown and identify your next step. Learn how to navigate transition in times of uncertainty, steps you can implement immediately to pivot now and ways to effectively communicate your story.

 

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana, and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.Erica Williams Simon

 

+Please take our first-ever listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)


 

This Month’s Guest:

ERICA WILLIAMS SIMON is a social critic, author, host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” Most recently the former Washington politico and lifelong civil and human rights activist was head of The Creator’s Lab at Snapchat, a first of its kind program that developed inspirational experiences for a global network of young storytellers and creators. The self-described professional question asker is an accomplished moderator and interviewer. She is host of the popular podcast The Call, creator and host of the Rosario Dawson produced digital talk show The Assembly, and author of the book You Deserve the Truth (Simon & Schuster). She has been featured on The Today Show, O Magazine, and the Washington Post and is a frequent TV commentator. She recently moderated conversations with the co-founders of theSkimm at the PA, TX, and Watermark Conferences for Women; she also gave a standalone workshop at the 2020 Watermark Conference for Women in San Jose. @missewill

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as co-host of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Website: Erica Williams Simon

Read the book: You Deserve the Truth

Hear from more great Conferences for Women speakers in our new podcast, Best Breakouts

Play
Posted in Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

Giving Voice to All with “Sing, Unburied, Sing” Author Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward

Get up close and personal with two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

In this episode of Women Amplified, we explore writing as a vehicle to give a voice to others past and present. Ward’s powerful insights, however, go far beyond writing instruction. Her words serve as an important reminder that we have a responsibility to speak up and give voice to those who have been silenced or erased in whatever means of expression feels right for us.

Sharing her real-life experiences, Ward will not just teach you about the writing process, but will help you go deep within to find your voice and inspire you to use that voice for the good of all.

“I wanted people to see how growing up in that type of environment, growing up in poverty and as a black person and in the rural South, how that constrains your existence in certain ways. Because you never see people like us. Or back then, you never saw people like us portrayed in pop culture or living complicated lives in television or, I don’t know, or in literature. I wanted us to exist and I wanted us to be able to speak and to have voice and to have agency, and to assert that we are here and that we shouldn’t be confined to people’s ideas about us. But instead, we should be able to speak and to tell our stories and to show that our lives are just as complicated and just as complex and just as unique as everyone else’s.”Jesmyn Ward

 

NEW: Please take our first-ever listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)

  •  

 

This Month’s Guest:

JESMYN WARD is a novelist, memoirist and essayist. She is a MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner and has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation. In 2017, she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction—joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike. Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. Her novel Salvage the Bones was winner of the 2011 National Book Award. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, depicts what Publishers Weekly calls “a world full of despair but not devoid of hope” in the aftermath of natural disaster. Ward’s memoir, Men We Reaped, delves into the five years of Ward’s life in which she lost five young men—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that follows poor people and people of color. The book won the Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Ward is the also the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, which NPR named one of the Best Books of 2016. A singular Southern odyssey that strikes at the heart of life in the rural South, Sing, Unburied, Sing, earned Ward a second National Book Award in 2017. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017 by The New York Times and Time, and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

She teaches creative writing at Tulane University in New Orleans. In 2016, she won the Strauss Living award, given every five years by the American Academy of Arts & Letters for literary excellence. In 2018, she was recognized among Time‘s 100 Most Influential People. Ward is currently working on two new books: a novel for adults set in New Orleans at the height of the American slave trade, and a young adult novel about a Black girl from the South with supernatural powers. Ward received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood Awards for her fiction, essays, and drama. She held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University from 2008-2010, and served as the Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi the following year. Ward’s latest book is Navigate Your Stars. @jesmimi

 

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Website: Jesmyn Ward, Author

Read the books: Navigate Your Stars | Sing, Unburied, Sing | Salvage the Bones | Men We Reaped

Hear from more great Conferences for Women speakers in our new podcast, Best Breakouts

Play
Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Career Choices, Communication Skills, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women, Diversity & Inclusion Tagged , |

5 Ways to Create the Career You Truly Want

Erica Williams Simon

At 27, Erica Williams Simon came to an important recognition. She was “successful” but not happy.

“So, I did what we are never supposed to do—especially as women, especially as black women: We’re never supposed to quit. You don’t quit. Well yes, you do and I did,” she recently said.

What she discovered in the time of self-exploration that followed was that many cultural and generational narratives had shaped her idea of what it means to be successful that had nothing to do with what she actually wanted out of life.

Now, the woman who had been listed on several “30 under 30” lists as a rising political star and TV commentator, is on a mission to help others understand the cultural stories that shape their lives and create new ones that will lead them to the life they actually want.

The author of the 2019 book, You Deserve the Truth, Erica shared these five insights with the Conference for Women: Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Career Choices, Transitions, Goals & Priorities Tagged , , |

You’re Not Lost: Create the Career YOU Want | 2019 Session

Making some career decisions can be enough to bring any adult to her knees.  The anxiety, second-guessing and unsolicited opinions we face are often abundant and result in self-doubt. They can also prevent you from making the small decisions that will help you get where you want to go. Career strategist Maxie McCoy will offer insights and advice for how to think about your choices, trust your instincts and decide whether to stay the course or pivot in a new direction. Read More

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Posted in Career Choices, Breakout Session Tagged , , |

Get Unstuck and Transition with Excitement | 2019 Session

The anxiety, second-guessing and often unsolicited opinions we face during times of transition are abundant and can result in a lot of self-doubt. They can also make you feel stuck and prevent you from making the small decisions that will help you get where you want to go. Social worker and psychotherapist Amy Morin will briefly share the psychological factors that contribute to our mindset when facing transition and lead a dynamic panel conversation that will explore how to think about your choices, trust your instincts and decide whether to stay the course or pivot in a new direction. Read More

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Posted in Career Choices, Transitions, Breakout Session Tagged , , , , , |
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