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Alumni host unique women's conference

October 6, 2011
By: 
Amy Dove
Tags: newsalumni

On the Island of Women, it's the right time.

The right time to come together, learn from each other and move forward with hopeful intent to celebrate International Women's Day, say organizers behind We Move Forward 2012. Originally envisioned by Royal Roads University MA in Leadership and Training (MALT) alumnus Janeen Halliwell, the idea grew to encompass 20 speakers and facilitators - including three other MALT alumni.

 "The event is for women who want to realize their potential," Halliwell says. "In participating they will learn about how other women, our featured speakers, have reached their potentials. They will participate in activities that will give them the insight and the tools to move forward in their lives."

Hosted on Isla Mujeres, Mexico March 8-10, 2012, the conference is about mind, body and soul. Guest speakers are mixed with yoga classes and interactive activities. Royal Roads alumni presenters include Christie Andrus (MALT 2003), chief executive of the Human Factor, a company that helps people and organizations community better. Cathy McKenzie (MALT 2000) is a leadership and learning consultant with Learning By Heart together with her husband Ed McKenzie (MALT 2003).

Cathy McKenzie is the key facilitator of the interactive community session 'Learning in Circle' on Day 1 of the event. She has facilitated numerous Learning Circles, including at the 2004 Gathering of Women Congress in San Francisco. On Isla Mujeres, McKenzie aims to show participants how to slow down, really listen and engage in conversations with intent. The approach is equally beneficial for those with strong voices, and those just learning to find their own, McKenzie says.

"When you think there will be women from all over the world, or all ages that's where the richness will be for me. All of a sudden we will be sharing these vast different stories around the same question," she said. "It just connects you more to the women of the world."

On Day 3 both McKenzies will co-facilitate a large group discovery session using 'Open Space Technology,' a technique that harnesses the energy and power of self-organization. People are able to engage in the conversation of their choice, moving from one topic to another as long as they do so with the intention of really being present, McKenzie said.

The location of the conference is fitting as Isla Mujeres, meaning Island of Women, was a Mayan sanctuary dedicated to Ix Chel, Goddess of Fertility, Reason, Healing and Happiness. Her temple sits on Isla's southern-most and Mexico's eastern-most point.

The island is home for Halliwell for a portion of the year, and she is working with colleagues to launch Retreats on Isla, a venture to co-ordinate business and corporate retreats on the island. Instead of waiting for their first customer, they decided to be their own by hosting the conference, she said.

"People should leave feeling hopeful. It started as an idea, but then with the support of others and including them it became a success," Halliwell says. "Hopefully people will walk away with less self doubt as they move forward, and more hope; when we are living those things that spills out onto others."

We Move Forward 2012 is March 8-10, 2012 on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Visit We Move Foward for more information. Early bird registration runs from Oct. 4 to Nov. 30 for $645. After that the price will be $695. Registration is limited to approximately 300 people.