• April 21 main header

Women in Leadership Corner 4.2021
  • Leading from the Heart  


    Tenacity, grit, resilience, perseverance, empathy, and patience are just some of the qualities leaders have needed to successfully navigate their school communities through the complexities of the COVID -19 Global Pandemic this past year. It has been exhausting work that has been both mentally and physically draining on the body. Health professionals are seeing a rise in patients reporting changes in eating, exercise, weight, and sleep patterns. As female leaders, we are often faced with stereotypical interpretations and factors that contribute to additional stressors. More often than men, women have to consider family commitments and obligations when planning their careers (Sweat, 2020).  As a female educational leader, balancing work and life while making self-care a priority can be quite challenging. 

    There are many factors that impact the health of women and increased exposure to stress can contribute to heart issues. Recognizing the challenges many women face, the Women In Educational Leadership Middlesex County emerged. A self-care and healthy living inaugural event became the focus of the Women In Educational Leadership Middlesex County Committee. “Go Red for Women,” a campaign by the American Heart Association, became the groundwork for the event “Leading from the Heart.” Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, contributing to 35% of female deaths worldwide (Hutchesson, Taylor, Shrewsbury, Vincze, Campbell, Callister, & Collins, 2020), and efforts to increase awareness of health became the priority. 

    American Heart Association Go RedThe leaders of this committee united for the common purpose of supporting and encouraging fellow female leaders. The committee recognized the enormous challenges leaders have overcome this past year, and the journey that lies ahead towards normalization. To that end, the NJASA Middlesex County Chapter of Women’s Leadership offered an afternoon of self care for female administrators on March 4th, 2021, virtually to ensure the health and safety of the participants. “Leading From the Heart” included a keynote address and breakout sessions. Dr. Lynne Einbinder, a board certified physician in Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Cardiovascular Diseases, and a diplomate of the Certification Board of Nuclear Cardiology, provided the keynote address on women’s heart health. Female leaders in their field of expertise facilitated four break out sessions on ways to assert self-care in their respective areas. The event included the following workshops: 


    Building Resilience through Self Care - Rebecca Hye, Psy.D. Behavior Specialist, South Brunswick School District.

    Focusing on resilience, we know as women, we often feel responsible to take care of all of those around us. We try our best to take care of our family, our friends, and our co-workers. Unfortunately, too often we neglect to take proper care of ourselves for various reasons. This session explored the importance of self-care in building resilience and how to build up self-care routines using little pockets of time in our busy days. 


    Chair Yoga to Destress - Joann Charwin, LPC, RYT 500, retired school counselor and 15 year certified yoga instructor.

    So much of the work day is spent sitting in front of a computer! This session allowed participants to learn about and engage in chair yoga exercises to center oneself and create balance throughout the day. Participants were able to immediately incorporate these strategies into their daily routines. 


    Empowerment through Nutrition -  Lisa Staas-Houser, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist whose passion for leading clients to health and wellness led her to cofound Know it All Nutrition, LLC nearly 10 years ago.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant physical and mental impact on our overall health and well-being. Health professionals are seeing a rise in patients reporting changes in eating, exercise, weight and sleep patterns. Stay-at-home and social distancing orders have played a significant role in behaviors that influence body weight and overall health.  During this session, Ms. Staas-Houser provided a brief overview of the health and wellness trends being seen by registered dietitians. She also shared practical strategies to help build positive, healthy eating habits and behaviors to get “back on track.” Small changes can make a BIG difference!


    Taking Care of your Mind by Taking Care of your Body - Nicole Glover, Clinical Manager for the Hamilton Women's Program for Princeton House, is a Board Certified, Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in a wide array of treatment modalities ranging from addiction and substance abuse, marital counseling and women’s issues to adolescent and family therapy.   

    As female leaders, we can forget the importance of self-care. The session included a mindfulness exercise, an overview of the PLEASE skills, and an exploration of self-care skills from a style of therapy called DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) perspective. 

    At the conclusion of the event, participants were asked to complete a survey that was used to reflect on the day. The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive and prompted the committee to plan a follow up event. “Leading from the Heart 2.0” is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 20th to allow participants to take a deeper dive into each topic. 

    Maintaining a positive work-life balance and developing a strong wellness toolkit will help school leaders to make self-care a priority. The work of the Women in Educational Leadership Middlesex County Committee will remain committed to supporting female leaders in this endeavor. 



    Hutchesson, M. J., Taylor, R., Shrewsbury, V. A., Vincze, L., Campbell, L. E., Callister, R., & Collins, C. E. (2020). Be Healthy for Your Heart: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluating a Web-Based Behavioral Intervention to Improve the Cardiovascular Health of Women with a History of Preeclampsia. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(16), 5779. 

    Sweat, M. (2020). Women in Leadership: A Narrative Study on the Elements that Manifest Barriers and Opportunities.