Women Learn To Advocate For Themselves at the NeW Leadership Retreat

On the final morning of the 2022 NeW Leadership Retreat, the women gathered in the conference room for breakfast and one final speaker session. The final speaker session was a two-person panel that included Amanda Covo, CEO of Teneo, and Simone Ledeen, Principal at Perimus Consulting, LLC.  

Both women are at the top of their fields and provided invaluable wisdom and advice to an audience of college leaders who were eager to hear it. Throughout the entire discussion, the women were heavily invested – taking notes, asking questions, etc. – a testament to how engaging Ledeen and Covo were.   

The two women began their talk by discussing their backgrounds and how they got to where they are now. They shared key moments in their lives that shaped the way they live their lives and go about their careers.  

Covo shared a bit about her background first: she started out on the editorial board of a newspaper, which was her first experience leading a team, and she was very unsure of herself. She encouraged the women in attendance that right now they are building the tools that will carry them through their careers. She shared, “your 20s are your ‘freshman year of life.’” 

When she graduated, Covo worked in Washington, DC with a newly formed group of entrepreneurs. She explained how she had to just “ jump right in” with a group of older, very successful people. She felt insecure but did the best she could. The group was almost all men, with only two women belonging to the group. She said she remembers sitting in a room that felt like a good old boys club, so she had to work on asserting herself because the men in the room did not take her seriously. Covo advised the women that even when they are insecure, they have to fake it until they make it. 

Ledeen shared her experience next; she told a story about how she grew up very wealthy, but then right before college her father cut her off financially. She had to get two jobs and work her way through college which she said made her a better, more self sustaining person.  

September 11, 2001, was a second life-changing event for her. She had been planning to go to business school in Italy, but then her mom’s best friend died in the plane that hit the Pentagon. She decided to join the military and work in intelligence; she wanted to serve her country after such a tragedy.  

Currently, she is out of the military and is working on domestic issues. She has gotten more involved with politics, having been out of that game since she was a student.  

In college, Angela Davis was supposed to visit Ledeen’s very liberal campus, so she wrote an anonymous article that was critical of Davis. Her professor read the article aloud in class and then talked about how sexist and racist the author was. Ledeen spoke up and told the class she wrote the piece, and for the rest of the class period, they attacked her. She learned from this experience to stand up for herself and not back down.  

Following their personal stories, the women shared professional advice and encouraged the chapter leaders to prioritize empowering their fellow conservative women. 

Ledeen gave a book recommendation – Principles by Ray Dalio. A lesson she said women should take from this book is to practice radical transparency because you cannot expect people to follow you if they know you are holding the truth back from them. She reminded the women that they are working together in the conservative movement, and should always include each other, not be exclusive or competitive. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and it is okay to admit it when you do not know something and lean on others for help and expertise. She brought up President Reagan’s quote, “You can’t imagine what gets done when you don’t care who gets the credit.” 

The women switched gears to talk about how leftists are good at creating elitist networks in Hollywood, corporations, newspapers, academia, etc. Covo and Ledeen are working to create a network for conservatives. They talked about how people today are concerned about the world their children are growing up in and the cultural shift that the left is achieving.  

The final segment of their talk was about leadership and how women can be more successful in their careers. They talked about the importance of body language and appearance – women are always trying to shrink themselves to be smaller and take up less space, but men always take up space, which is a power move. They said to be sure to take up space and to not be afraid of doing so. Confidence is normally something you have to fake until you have done it enough times, and  the only way to grow is to push yourself to where you are not comfortable. They advised practicing  power posing and power stances. They said “sit at the d**n table” – men never would sit on the periphery – which was both metaphorical and literal advice. 

Covo and Ledeen’s panel was the best way to close the weekend. Women left feeling empowered and inspired to be bold.  

This blog was written by Chloe Sparwath, NeW Campus Program Coordinator.

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