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Panel Track 3

Not All Managers are Good Leaders 1:15 pm - 2:00 pm

We have all worked under managers or managed others and know that a variety of effective management styles exists. At the same time, poor leadership creates toxic work cultures and employee resentment that can manifest in disastrous results for the company and its workers. Notable management consultant Peter Drucker claims, “Management is about doing things right and leadership is about doing the right things.” Leaders in management positions influence people, which can lead to increased employee motivation and productivity. While individuals can possess leadership qualities, the most effective leadership styles are cultivated over time, through trial and error and by paying attention to failures along with successes. Good managers anticipate and divert problems before they become bigger problems.  Good managers identify the talents of those they are managing and create pathways for effective utilization of those talents. 

We are wondering what makes good leaders and how personality plays into one’s leadership style. We are curious about our panelists’ leadership experiences and the people that mentored them along the way. We are wondering about the bad leaders they encountered and what that taught them about developing their own leadership styles. A Leader manager focuses on motivating employees, setting clear expectations, and maintaining clear communication. A Leader Manager encourages accountability and remains trustworthy, transparent and appreciative. How does one develop and improve these skills? How does one cultivate accountability and trustworthiness? Our panel of leaders will explore this topic by reflecting on their personal experiences and lessons learned along the way.




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Kristie Bardwell

Executive Director

Children's Coalition of Northeast Louisiana

Kristie Bardell, Executive Director of Children’s Coalition of Northeast Louisiana (CCNELA), has 20 years of experience serving as a trailblazer developing and implementing health improvement initiatives throughout Louisiana. Over the course of her career, her passion has been to reduce socioeconomic and health inequalities. She has led family health initiatives in both the nonprofit and government sector.  Ms. Bardell has extensive experience in building capacity around programming, clinical services, community engagement, health equity and policy change to create thriving communities.  

Kristie brings cross-sector experience to establish practices that promote greater understanding and intersectionality of content, skills, and community.  The leadership she provides emphasizes on reducing disparities within underserved communities from a structural and social determinants of health lens. Prior to joining CCNELA, she worked at Louisiana Public Health Institute to advance strategic direction of the organization by developing national and regional partnerships to influence collective action and further health outcomes. She has also worked with the Louisiana Department of Health to improve maternal, infant, and child mortality and morbidity rates by providing statewide leadership to build public health capacity.

Kristie has served on numerous boards such as the Louisiana School-Based Health Alliance, Maternal and Child Health Coalition, Community Impact Committee for United Way Southeast Louisiana and City of New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board: Childhood Trauma Task Force. She was also named an Icon in 2022 by BayouLife Magazine. Some of her successes to date are strategizing on the passage of equitable health policies by working with multi-sector partners (school boards, interfaith leaders, youth, legislators, community leaders and non-profits), in addition to developing thriving communities through resource allocation and programmatic investments. Ms. Bardell has been sought out for her expertise as a population health strategist to serve on and/or moderate panels for Rosenblum Healthcare Institute-Touro Infirmary, United Way Worldwide, F-NO Public Health Film Festival and foundations. Ms. Bardell holds a Masters in Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana. As a native of Louisiana and passionate strategist, she continues to carve a pathway to health for all.


Robin Cox


Serenity Care Providers

With Robin leading the way, Serenity Care Providers earned national recognition when they received the 2022 Best of Home Care –Top 100 Leader in Experience Award. Her organization has earned multiple Employer of Choice and Provider of Choice awards over the years. Since 2013, when Robin founded Serenity Care Providers, her mission has been to promote an organization where employees are respected, valued, and inspired as they work together to understand, connect, and care for people during their most vulnerable times.



Alex Holland

Co-Founder & President

Atlas Community Studios

Alex is Co-founder and Vice President of Atlas Community Studios – a firm specializing in strategic planning, economic development, community engagement, and funding strategies guided by its mission to advance the economic prosperity of small and rural communities across the country. Additionally, Alex is the Founder and Principal of The Holland Group, an organization that provides advisory services and government affairs solutions to various public and private organizations, including federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, internet service providers, and more. Alex graduated from the University of Louisiana Monroe with degrees in Political Science (B.A.), Criminal Justice (B.A.), Master of Business Administration, and Master of Public Administration. Alex has participated in an executive education course on Authentic Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and is currently studying to become a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through Oklahoma University’s Economic Development Institute. She currently resides in Washington, DC, but has lived in Northeast Louisiana and Las Vegas, Nevada.



Women Across Generational Work Styles 2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

We’ve all seen those Facebook/Instagram/Tiktok posts about the differences among Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Gen-Z. Based on the aforementioned platform that you frequently scroll, you know where you fall. The online traded jabs among generational groups are humorous, but signal deep generational issues that impact the workplace. According to Purdue University, Baby Boomers make up 25% of the workforce and believe in having to earn success through hard work. Boomers tend to be optimistic, team-oriented, competitive, and are often workaholics. In contrast, GenXers (33% of workforce) prefer work-life balance and are more interested in their place in the company versus the company itself. Millennials (35% of the workforce) are open-minded and seek accomplishments. They care deeply about who leads them and how. GenZers (2%) are lured by personalization and creativity. They are innovative on the job and value independence. 

In a corporate environment where all these generational differences collide, knowing how to navigate unique value systems and work styles contribute to a productive work culture. Recognizing and utilizing each person’s strengths betters the collective efforts of the group. While leaders are tasked with identifying these various traits and creating a pathway for employee success, employees have to recognize their own strengths and pinpoint effective ways to  channel those talents on the job. Shared workspaces require interpersonal skills and adapting to shifting dynamics and employees changes and roles evolve. Whether you are a team leader or even a team member, understanding one’s team along with a team’s objectives are key. We are curious how to create good relationships and ways of working together across generational differences.

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Gayle Hoover Frick

Co-Owner & Designer

Music City Studios

Gayle Hoover Frick with her husband Scott, sought to fill a community need which also happened to be a cause dear to them—a first-rate recording studio built “by artists for artists.” Gayle is the co-owner and designer of Music City Studios professional recording studio in West Monroe. Beyond the attention to design detail required for superior music recording, the studio was built to be more than just an inviting space for musicians to bring their talents to life. MCS serves as a beacon of inspiration to the community due to financial investments, sponsorships, education partnerships and volunteerism. We have a judgment free atmosphere and seek to make each client feel like a superstar. Gayle is also the owner and operator of the beautiful Monroe venue historically named "Glendora Plantation." She purchased the home in 2019 and has coordinated weddings, family functions, reunions and dinner theater productions. Gayle is a proud charter member and serves on the board of The Krewe De Rivière-Mardi Gras Krewe. A theater veteran since 1972, Gayle has devoted years to community, school and church performing arts as a director, choreographer, costume designer and performer. You’ll still find her performing at Strauss Theatre Center in Monroe as opportunity arises: performances which have won her coveted Christopher awards. She is a former Miss NLU, Miss Louisiana Finalist and past director of the Miss Ouachita Parish Pageant. She has coached and judged contestants vying for scholarships through the Miss America Pageant System. Along with her B.A. from NLU (ULM) in Speech/Theatre, she is also certified in Secondary Education in both LA and TN. Gayle has been a supporter and active foster home for the PAWS NELA organization. Her home is never without multiple fur babies. She is a wife of 30 years to Scott Frick of TN; a mother to two grown sons and a daughter in law; an American mom to a "daughter" from Poland and her husband; and a "Mom" to a local rap artist she claims as her own. Her newest and favorite title of "Honey G" came last year with the birth of her first grand-daughter, Lilith Rose.


Ashley Doughty-Able

Vice President of Public Relations & Business Development

Homeland Bank

Ashley Doughty Able was born and raised in Monroe Louisiana. She has spent a lifetime of volunteering in her community and has a passion for helping underprivileged children and homebound elderly. As a graduate from University of Louisiana with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication, Ashley began her career as news reporter, and through hard work, moved up to prime time anchor at KTVE.   After having children, Ashley transitioned her career into the role of marketing and sales.    She currently loves her job at Homeland Bank as the Vice President of Public Relations and Business Development.  She also takes pride in being the host of Louisiana Living, a local lifestyle show which is celebrating 10 years of live on-air programming on Fox 14.  

Ashley actively volunteers for the United Way’s Read, Learn Succeed Program where she works individually with 2nd and 3rd graders on improving their reading skills. Ashley has participated in RLS since 2014 and falls in love with each child that she reads with throughout the year. She strongly believes that the children progress though caring support and encouragement. Ashley also serves on the Empty Bowl’s Fundraising Committee to benefit the Food Bank of NELA. She is a sustainer in The Junior League of Monroe, a Monroe Chamber Ambassador, and a longtime member of First Methodist Church in Monroe. In addition, Ashley organizes Homeland Bank’s Coat Drive for the Ouachita Council on Aging and the Wellspring, a Back-to-School Drive for elementary school children, and a Christmas Adopt a Child program through the Wellspring.  

Ashley has received numerous honors and awards for her involvement and dedication to the community. She was chosen as one of Delta Style Magazine’s “Women Who Shape the Delta”, Bayou Life Magazine’s “Women of Style and Substance”.  She received the Monroe Chamber “Ambassador of the Year Award” and past winner of the Louisiana Delta Ballet’s Dancing with the Stars. 

Ashley is married to Marc Able, a commercial realtor with Coldwell Banker. She has two daughters, Lily and Amelia Thomas, who are both attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her stepdaughter Dianna Able, lives in Denver Colorado and works for a book publishing company and stepson Travis Able, attends Louisiana Tech University.  When at work, Ashley loves spending time with her family and playing with her two beloved fur babies.  She likes to travel and enjoys spending time outdoors.



Abigail Tingle

Social Media & Website Manager

Discover Monroe-West Monroe

Abby W. Tingle is the Social Media & Website Manager at Discover Monroe-West Monroe where she helps share the authentic story of Ouachita Parish through digital content efforts. She received her Bachelor of Art in Communication from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Abby is a graduate of the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy and will become a certified Travel Marketing Professional (TMP) upon graduating from Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College in September. She previously served as the Public Relations & Media Coordinator at Discover Monroe-West Monroe and the Content Manager at Visit Mobile Alabama. She served on the Women’s Symposium Empower Board during her time at ULM. She is married to Cameron Tingle.





Sisterhood Ceiling 3:15 pm - 4:00 pm

While the Glass Ceiling, coined by Marilyn Loden in 1978, refers to what men do to women in the workplace, the Sisterhood Ceiling, coined by John Bingham in 2016, describes what women do to themselves and to each other. The premise argues that women not only do things to hold back other women at work, but also limit their own career success as well. Qualitative interviews with women in the workplace concluded that the pay-gap between men and women not only still exists, but is still defended. While women frequently have a greater level of education, greater diversity of jobs, and more years of experience, men are still paid more in comparable positions. Gender bias and double standards plague women, manifesting in additional scrutiny of their work, reprimands for sensitivity, absence from the decision-making process, and accusations of sexual allure to advance their careers. While these behaviors sound like infractions from men against women, they are often projected onto women by other women. 

In interviews conducted by Sunny Lee, women were asked about women-led behaviors that inhibited their progress in the workplace or made their leadership experiences more difficult. Those behaviors included  reprimands and exclusion for breaking ranks, jealousy, expectations of perfection, heightened competition, and over-personalization. These particular symptoms were specific to all-female relational scenarios. We are curious about the origin of these female-to-female relational behaviors and how to handle them in the workplace. And how do generational differences play into these behaviors and responses? Should we speak up and name the behavior when it is exhibited against us? What might that dialogue look like? And can we recognize our own continuation of these behavioral patterns in the workplace?








Dr. Valerie Fields

Vice President for Student Affairs

University of Louisiana at Monroe

As the First Female Vice President in ULM’s 92-year history, Dr. Valerie S. Fields-Simmons knows the impact of opening doors for women in leadership. Having instituted three major ULM initiatives - Tuesday Ties with Guys, Sipping TEA (Transformational Empowering Alliance), and VIP-White Glove Program - Dr. Fields is forward thinking, working diligently on behalf of ULM students. As a trailblazer, Dr. Fields is consciously aware of being a role model for future generations of women. In the workplace, she says it is important to stay composed and confident, to establish your own work boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. According to Dr. Fields, identifying and instituting boundaries begins with conversations that should precede conflict. 

After serving for the last three years, Dr. Fields admits that her honeymoon period as the Vice President for Student Affairs has come to an end, and she is pushing both staff and students to do the hard work of self development. As a leader of multiple generations of women with diverse backgrounds, Dr. Fields is constantly pushing budding leaders to reimagine and reconsider the status quo, to push the limits of what they think is possible for the betterment of everyone. She takes a similar approach with students. Dr. Fields pushes students to intentionally define parameters, even on the basic level of defining words. For a student activity, Dr. Fields had dry erase boards placed at student gathering places on campus. Questions like “What does transformative mean to you?” and “What does alliance mean to you?” invited student contributions. As buzz words circulate, the meaning can often escape the message. Dr. Fields pulls students and co-workers back to center, to re-examine and redefine the baseline. 

Dr. Fields is inspired by unapologetic leaders, pioneers who respect tradition but aren’t afraid to challenge norms. Dr. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress and the first woman and African American to seek a party nomination for U.S. president, once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” Dr. Fields takes a similar approach to leadership but with defined boundaries. Dr. Fields keeps her professional and personal relationships separate. Dr. Fields checks her feelings at the door, and reminds herself that people are usually well-intentioned. Working together demands a two-way street of respect and boundaries. 

Originally from Winnsboro, LA, Dr. Valerie S. Fields-Simmons earned a B.A. in Early Childhood Education/Elementary Education from Southern University A&M in Baton Rouge; an Ed.S. and Masters in Administration and Supervision from University of Louisiana at Monroe; and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a Cognate in Technology from LA Tech University in Ruston.


Dr. Whitney Silvis Sawyer

Director, Center for Instructional Technology

Louisiana Tech University

Dr. Whitney Sivils-Sawyer is the Center for Instructional Technology Director at Louisiana Tech University and has worked for the University of Louisiana System for over 15 years. She enjoys traveling with family and live music. Whitney resides in Monroe with her husband, four sons, two dogs, and four cats. She’s passionate about removing systemic barriers that cause inequity and believes in the importance of women encouraging women in the workplace.