How’d You Get So WISE?

It’s a rare opportunity in life to be presented the opportunity to be a part of a force – a movement or organization that has momentum, enthusiasm, and hearts in the right places. I’ve had a couple of such opportunities in my life, and right now, the biggest one is ASSE’s WISE.*

*American Society of Safety Engineers Women in Safety Engineering.

As most ASSE volunteer origin stories begin, I was “voluntold” to participate in a more visible and active way by WISE leadership last year. Since 2002, I have extensive ASSE volunteer experience starting with my role as Editor of my Student Chapter’s newsletter and then as Secretary and member of various committees with the Orange County Chapter and now with the Northwest Chapter as a Delegate and Social Media committee member. As I will tell any prospective ASSE member, “the ASSE has always been good to me!”

19225978_10211611729742269_3985568048692817967_n.jpgSafety 2017 hasn’t technically started yet, and WISE has already blown me away with challenging information, smart and open discussions, and lots of FUN!

Today, Sunday, was the 4th Annual Personal Development Retreat presented by WISE. Registration hit capacity with 100 people pre-registered for the event. The event space, generously provided by Encana, was inspiring and a perfect backdrop for the high-level content curated by WISE Administrator Kelly Bernish.

We kicked off the day with introductions and quickly learned that WISE covers the map! (note to self: next year, bring a map to keep track of where WISE Retreaters travel from…)

After introductions, Dr. Cori Wong gave an epic talk on intersectional feminism, inequity, and sexism. I have a feeling today wasn’t the last time Dr. Wong and WISE will interact, and until then, we can watch her Tedx Talk on Feminist Friendship! Dr. Wong brought up so many interesting points that I will personally be revisiting in the months to come. My biggest right-away-takeway from Dr. Wong is that our differences in any group are our strengths. We should think about who is missing from our tables (boards, meetings, etc) and how can we leverage differences for progress?


Susan Skjei, Ph.D. of Naropa University then spoke to us about authentic leadership. She guided us through some thought exercises that definitely challenged many of us by encouraging us to sit with our initial feelings before reacting or responding. Taking stock of our body feelings before reaction allows us to “bring space” when responding to a challenging situation.

Monica Pampell, President of PentaFit, taught us about the power of posture with over a dozen micro-exercises, stretches, or reminders we can use throughout the day to tap into our body and make sure we are projecting our best self. From a simple reminder to breathe (or sing!) to stretches targeting the usual stress holdouts in the body (hips, lower back, shoulders), we were able to move our bodies before our networking lunch.

After lunch, our very own Linda Tapp refreshed our memories on last year’s theme of storytelling. Using the Method of Loci, we were able to re-tell the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire using 12 detailed statements within 5 minutes of Linda coaching us! This technique can work for safety training, a conference presentation, or even to remember your grocery list.

Matthew Kaskavitch, Social Media Manager for University of Colorado Denver helped us to hone our social media strategies to reach rock star status. His presentation was entertaining and enlightening as many of us use social media but were not tying it directly to our business or department goals. A viral video would bring instant fame, but social media is more effective when used as a tool.


An original WISE Guy, Julius Rhodes, spoke to us about risk and the resilient mindset. This topic was juxtaposed with the concept of personal branding to really make us think about how we serve others. While marketing ourselves may seem counterintuitive, it is essential for gaining buy-in at our organizations as we lead people and influence them to do the right thing to stay safe!

The retreat was closed by Rachel Esters and her powerful and personal story of transgender inclusion. It was a privilege to hear Rachel’s experience!


I feel wiser after today’s retreat and will refer back to the day’s topics throughout Safety 2017 and beyond. I am extremely grateful to WISE leadership for continuing to provide such progressive and relevant programming for ASSE members! Bring on the rest of the conference!

2018 edit – Dr. Cori Wong is coming back!! Registration is open now, 






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