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Panel Track 1
Makin' It Work
1:15 pm - 2:00 pm
Women have often taken only a portion of their full maternity leave (allowed by the law) for fear of losing ground in the workplace. Women have also been passed over for promotions and new opportunities because supervisors have assumed a pregnant woman or a new mother simply could not handle the same workload she once did. 

Statistics back these fears. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission observed a 50 percent increase in pregnancy bias charges over 14 years. In addition to pregnancy discrimination, the wage gap between men and women continues to be a significant challenge. Women tend to believe their hard work and dedication will inevitably be recognized, allowing them to avoid awkward negotiations or confrontations. This simply isn’t true.
So, how can professional women address the wage gap and the motherhood discrimination? Plan a discussion with your supervisor. What do you want out of this discussion? Before your meeting, prioritize ideal outcomes, acknowledge deal-breakers, and research your market worth. This practice will empower you with a greater sense of control during the actual discussion.
In a recent study, nearly 75 percent of surveyed women adjusted their professional lives to accommodate motherhood. The most successful women made conscious sacrifices; they did not attempt to conquer everything because they understood they could not. These women learned to expect the best from themselves without needing to be perfect. They chose their sacrifices and made creative adjustments, allowing them to feel more content. They envisioned what they wanted their lives to look like, and they tried not to make decisions based on fear or guilt.
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Kathy Brown

Senior Environmental Analyst


Kathy Brown is a Senior Environmental Analyst for Entergy Services Incorporated where she oversees the Oil Management Program for the Power Generation fleet.  Kathy has worked for Entergy for over 13 years, a majority of that time spent as a Field Environmental Analyst for the Entergy Sterlington, Ouachita, Perryville, and Monroe Plant sites.  During that time she oversaw the environmental compliance programs for air, water, and waste.  Prior to her position at Entergy, Kathy worked for PPM Consultants in Monroe.

Kathy relocated to Monroe in 2005 and is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe where she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Toxicology.  She is an active member of Jesus the Good Shepherd Church in Monroe.  Kathy and her husband, Andrew, live in Farmerville and have three children, Kaylen, Sydney, and Andrew.


Alpa Patel

Tobacco Treatment Coordinator

Louisiana Tobacco Control Initiative of the LSU School of Public Health

Alpa Patel has lived in Monroe, LA for nineteen years and has been married to Jeet Patel, a local dentist, for twenty-three years. They have three sons. She was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and moved to the U.S. as a toddler. Her parents are from India and, because they were in the motel business, Alpa and her family moved several times, growing up mainly in Kentucky and Florida. 

Alpa is a Health Educator with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science Education from the University of Florida. She currently works as a Tobacco Treatment Coordinator (Regions 6, 7, & 8) for the Louisiana Tobacco Control Initiative of the LSU School of Public Health.

While Alpa loves to travel and spend time with her family and friends, she also strives to help her community in her spare time. She is currency a member of these local boards: 

  • Children’s Coalition Board Member (since 2016)
  • Children’s Coalition Executive Board Secretary for 3 years 
  • United Way’s Read.Succeed.Learn Program (since 2016)
  • Healthy Communities Coalition 
  • Heritage of India (since 2014)

Katharine Spires

Manager & Weight Loss Coach

The Fat Doctor

Katharine R. Spires is a Manager and weight loss Coach at The Fat Doctor (TFD), in Monroe. She educates & assists patients in their own very personal & emotional, weigh loss journey. Katharine became involved with TFD after she and her husband, Dr. Daven Spires, an orthopedic surgeon, began their own weight loss journeys 7 years ago. Since becoming involved just 8 months ago she has quadrupled TFD patient census and is in the process of obtaining her Ketogenic and Carnivore Health Coach certification. Helping others overcome sugar addiction and navigate their own weight loss journey is her passion.

As a stay-at-home mom for the better part of 15 years Katharine was passionately involved in the care of her family and community. Katharine & Daven have 3 children: Xander (15), Camille (13), and Ruffin (11).  She has been deeply involved in both her children’s school and their church with various tasks & fundraisers, raising thousands of dollars. She has served on local non-profit boards with both The Junior League of Monroe and the Monroe Symphony Orchestra. She also spear-headed a renovation project through the Ouachita Medical Society benefitting the NELA Children’s Museum.



Treat Yo' Self
2:15 pm - 3:00 pm
Does your mental health and physical well-being appear at the top of your ever-growing to-do list? Women often manage the needs of others before tending to their own. The irony? We can’t be nearly as helpful or productive in our personal and professional lives if we are running on half-empty. Mental health and physical health are equally important. If you had diabetes, you would seek medical intervention, right? If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or feeling overwhelmed, you need to contact a therapist.
Therapy is only one facet of self-care. Part of self-care is saying “no” without guilt. When someone asks you to help with a time-consuming project, it’s difficult to say “no.” However, if you are already stressed, saying “yes,” can lead to exhaustion and anxiety. Consistently saying “yes” means eliminating time spent on self-care. Self-care can involve spending time outside, meditating, practicing a new hobby, enjoying a massage, or laughing with friends. Self-care also consists of the absence of things, such as 24/7 technology. Studies have proven that too much screen time at night causes depression, prevents restful sleep, and creates anxiety.
Get organized. A planner or calendar can help you understand the magnitude of your work and personal demands. A visual representation can also allow you to eliminate less essential duties and, most importantly, schedule your self-care. Set a weekly self-care goal for yourself and reward yourself for achieving that goal. After all, you cannot be valuable to others if you deplete your energy. Most importantly, you cannot be useful to yourself.





Jo Ellen Gilliland

Personal Trainer and Co-Owner,

Tribe31 Training

Jo Ellen Gilliland was born and raised in West Monroe, Louisiana. She graduated from ULM with a BA in elementary education. She taught 1st grade for 8 years at Drew Elementary while personal training on the side. The opportunity for her to train full time opened up, and she never wanted to look back with regret so she took a leap of faith. 

Twelve years later what once was just personal training has turned into an all women’s gym called Tribe31 Training. Jo Ellen and her business partner, Taylor Jopling, have created a positive space for women to achieve their goals in a group setting. Their mission is to equip women with strength in all seasons of life through physical, mental, and spiritual training. They provide coaching, consistency, & community to women of all ages which has led to more confident & empowered women. 

Jo Ellen believes that all women are training for something in and out of the gym. It might be education, career, family, or a dream. Just like physical training requires discipline and sacrifice so does accomplishing those goals. She seeks to help women bring that same mindset from the gym into their everyday life so they can embrace their own Wonder Woman.

Alexandra (Allie) Lee

Finance Director

National Republican Senatorial Committee - Louisiana

Allie is a ULM graduate, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Upon graduating in 2018, Allie has served as Community Liaison and Caseworker for Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana’s sixth district and Social Media Manager for Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. Since 2019 she has also worked part-time in political fundraising with Nungesser Consulting, raising money for select Republican candidates and conservative causes in Louisiana. 

Upon realizing this is where her strength and passion lied, Allie recently made the jump to now fundraising full-time with Nungesser Consulting, where she currently serves as Finance Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s Louisiana campaign for NRSC Chairman and Florida Senator Rick Scott as well as other Republican candidates. Allie is also a graduate of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy’s Class of 2020 Leadership Institute and Delta Regional Authority’s Class of 2021 Delta Leadership Institute.  

Mary Francis Siggers


Custom Design Center & Eason Manufacturing

Mary Francis was born and raised in Monroe and has deep love for this city, community and the people. She has been married to her husband, A.J., for 10 years and they have 3 children, Aubrey Joyce (9), Jordan Robert (4) and Elise Kathryn (10 months). Mary Francis graduated from ULM in 2008. 

Her and her husband own and operate Custom Design Center in Monroe and Eason Manufacturing in West Monroe. Before beginning her journey to entrepreneurship, she worked at Vantage Health Plan as a Senior Account Executive for 10 years. 

Mary Francis is the current president of the Junior League of Monroe and has served 4 terms on the Board of Directors over 10 years. She takes pride in giving back to her community and fostering the mission of the organization. Her hope and mission with her presidency is to empower women to lead and be the change for a positive impact in our community all while caring for themselves.

When her time isn’t being spent working or volunteering, she spends as much time as possible with her husband and children.



Taking a Step Back to Move Forward
3:15 pm - 4:00 pm
Sometimes life throws curveballs in the form of finances, sickness, or hiccups during and in our careers. This may be a time to reflect. Learn how to evaluate your situation, and if necessary, change your career. Changing careers does not mean you failed. Reframe this concept as an opportunity to grow. As humans, we are growing every day, and what appealed to us as a fresh college graduate may not appeal to us 10-15 years later.
Before you make a move, brainstorm a bit. For the sake of this exercise, forget about job titles and salaries. What kind of work excites you? Do you sincerely dislike your current job, or are you simply needing more work-life balance? If you desire work-life balance, you can negotiate that with your supervisor. Or, are you seeking to move into an entirely different industry? Really consider what all of that means. Are you ok with starting as an entry-level professional in a new industry if it means you will find purpose and passion in your work? 
Create a financial contingency plan.You may not be able to quit your job right away, but you can begin freelance work—related to your dream job—and start saving for your ultimate departure.



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Sarah Mouton Floyd

Dream Home Specialist

ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Sarah Mouton Floyd was born and raised in Lafayette, LA and graduated with Latin honors from LSU with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. During her time at LSU, Sarah was active in student groups while working full time in order to graduate without any student debt – an accomplishment she is incredibly proud of.

Upon graduating, Sarah accepted a position with ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and met her now husband, Jarod Floyd. In 2016 she moved to the twin cities and accepted a position with ULM, where she served as the Director of Alumni Affairs. She later became the Development Director for the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana. In February of 2021 she returned to work for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and currently serves as a Dream Home Specialist, where she oversees the marketing and construction of homes nationwide.

In 2018, Sarah was appointed a Commissioner for Volunteer Louisiana by Governor John Bel Edwards and will serve as Secretary in 2022. She is also a Meta Blueprint Certified Marketing Associate and was named one of Monroe’s Top 20 Under 40 recipients in the fall of 2021.

Sarah remains active in her hometown as she serves as the Emcee Committee Co-Chair for the International Rice Festival in Crowley, LA. She enjoys cooking, golfing, and is a proud stepmother.


Asja Jordan

Miss ULM and Owner

Potential to Kinetic

Asja Jordan is a graduate student pursuing a master's in Public Administration at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She currently serves as a representative of her university as Miss ULM 2022 and works as a fitness trainer, yoga teacher, and is an active member of the Monroe-West Monroe community. 

During her time at ULM, Asja discovered many opportunities to grow,both personally and professionally. In undergrad, she fundraised her way to study abroad in Europe, won 1st place in ULM's first-ever business pitch competition, and was recognized as an outstanding senior in Communication. She also hosted community service projects and events surrounding health, wellness, and fun activities. After graduation, she started a box-project business called the Love Local Box, placed top 10 in Miss Louisiana, and received the Community Champion award on behalf of beautification organization, Ouachita Green.

However, Asja wasn't always on the road to achievements and success. In high school, she was perpetuating unproductive generational patterns and habits that could have led her down an unfruitful path. However, people began to see something within her that she didn't see within herself---potential, specifically, athletic potential. This insight from others led her to become a powerlifter, fitness trainer, yoga teacher, and positive changes began to occur within her. As she witnessed her strength increase and her body change, her mindset and habits followed. In pursuit of overcoming generational patterns, she went on to become the first to graduate high school and college in her family. Because of this story of transformation, Asja formed a mantra, movement, and business called, Potential to Kinetic (P2K). Through P2K, she seeks to be a catalyst that helps individuals and communities reach their full potential through personal growth practices and community projects. In 2018, Asja attended the Women's Symposium at a time when she needed to hear powerful stories of amazing women. Her being given the opportunity to be a panelist in 2022, she says, "is a full-circle moment that demonstrates the power of personal growth.”




Yuki KC

System Analyst

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Yuki KC graduated from North Lake College in Irving, TX in December 2012 with an associate degree in Liberal Sciences. Then, Yuki graduated in May 2016 from ULM with a bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems and in December 2020 with a master’s degree in Business Administration.  In September 2016, Yuki began working at ULM as a Database Analyst in the Admissions and Scholarships division. She got promoted to System Analyst in August 2021. She was the RSO chapter adviser for the Nepalese Student Association at ULM from 2016 to 2019, and she was awarded the ULM RSO Advisor of the Year Award in 2018. 

She is a first-generation college student and came to the United States in 2010. Yuki ran into many of the same challenges that most international students encounter: from homesickness to adjusting to a new culture, to learning to do everything on her own, to finding internships and jobs - she had to deal with it all. As an international student, Yuki was not authorized to work off campus while attending college full-time and was not eligible for federal loans.  In addition, Yuki was unclear about what career she wanted to pursue. She decided to pursue her associate degree first. After graduating, Yuki got the opportunity to apply for work for a year in the real world and try out different job positions. This also gave her the opportunity to save some money to pay for her bachelor's degree. When it came time to finish her bachelor's degree, Yuki chose Computer Information Systems as her major despite not knowing if it was the best career option for at the time. Surprisingly, she enjoyed each course and how this degree bridged the gap between technology and business. Concurrently, she started working as a tech support specialist at the ULM IT Helpdesk, which fueled her interest in technology and assisting others with problem solving.

Following a devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015, the US government gave all Nepalese immigrants in the US temporary status, allowing them to work lawfully. Yuki took advantage of the opportunity and began working two more jobs to pay for tuition and books. She also worked as a cashier at a convenience shop, a bank teller, and helpdesk tech support until graduating with a bachelor's degree in 2016. After graduating, her work visa renewal was still proving difficult, but Yuki never gave up. Her H1B (non-immigrant visa worker) job was ultimately approved in January 2022, allowing her to continue working in the United States.

Life has thrown a lot of curveballs; this has taught Yuki how to make the most of any situation, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It has also taught her to seize every opportunity. The road to success is not easy, but it is also not impossible.