Teachers College Columbia University

Women Leaders in Education: Mastering Authenticity, Influence, and Power Through Embodied Leadership

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About the course

Building the Capacity for Mindfulness in Action

Developing powerful women leaders has never been more important or relevant. Research shows that women bring much needed skills to the current global workplace including the capacity for collaborative problem solving, team building, empathy, ability to read others and a high degree of risk taking, However, out of the 50 percent of women in management positions only 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women.

This two-day experiential workshop explores Embodied Leadership, a radically different way of learning to lead. Particularly significant for women leaders, this body/mind approach enables women to experience the body as a source of intelligence and power in ways that directly impact their ability to act with agency, develop a consistent voice, take a stand for self and others, engage conflict and negotiation with compassion and dignity and build the resilience to deal with ambiguity, complexity, and power dynamics individually and within academic, profit and non-profit organizations.

Where most leadership study is based in case work and leadership best practices, embodied leadership accesses our interconnected system of thoughts, emotions, and neuromuscular physiology, naturally developing a powerful leadership presence, building effective interpersonal communications, and the ability to match leadership styles to leadership challenges, whether as an administrator or in the classroom.


The workshop draws on neuroscience, cognitive psychology, adult learning, and leadership best practices to help participants learn how to embody their leadership role through experiences and dialogue that:

  • Develop deep self awareness
  • Build a more powerful leadership presence that is able to stay open, present, and connected under conditions of complexity and ambiguity
  • Access the intelligence of the mind/body system
  • Cultivate the capacity for creativity, change, and connection
  • Create a compelling and actionable vision and purpose for and those you lead
  • Reduce stress and increase resilience by developing a greater range of actions
  • Work with historical issues of cultural and gender identity

Somatic practices intervene with our integrated, mind/body system in ways that can’t be addressed by cognitive processes alone, affording “a way in” in which to powerfully experience the intersection of mind and body, cultivating deep insight into our embodied, largely unconscious, patterns of perception, emotion, and action that result in the leaders we show ourselves to be.

Individually and in small groups, participants will work interactively with posture, movement, body awareness, and relationship and communication patterns that will facilitate present moment awareness of habitual, embodied mindsets and action styles that impacts leadership.

In small and large group dialogue, participants will connect their somatic awareness with a grounded sense of purpose and stretch their repertoire, counterbalancing the natural tendency to choose habits that are familiar and comfortable and enabling actions, relationships and conversations that better fit particular situations. Participants will come away with somatic practices they can use for their continued leadership development and the development of others.

Whether you are a seasoned educator, beginning your leadership journey, or want to take your leadership to the next level, this workshop can help you become the courageous, strategic, and empowered educator and leader you wish to be.

Who should attend

This workshop is relevant to women leaders wishing to maximize their impact as current educational administrators, principals, classroom teachers and those considering making the transition from teaching to administration. Participants may benefit from having 3-5 years of professional experience so they have a frame of reference to draw upon. The common denominator is a desire to grow and expand their leadership capacity.

The workshop blends embodiment and leadership theory with embodied practices designed to facilitate awareness and provide practical tools participants can take away and use in their everyday life.

Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and no heels as the highly experiential design involves movement and participants may be standing for short periods of time.

Trust the experts

Carmela Bennett

he workshop will be led by Dr. Carmela Bennett, who teaches Embodied Leadership at Columbia’s Teachers College and has worked in human development and primary and higher education for the past 30 years. A former elementary teacher at TASIS International School and lifelong dancer, Carmela holds a...


Pete Reilly

Pete Reilly has devoted his entire professional life to empowering students, teachers, and administrators to fully utilize their unique gifts and talents. A decades long career as an educational administrator, classroom teacher, and master somatic coach, he brings a unique presence and perspectiv...


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