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Women’s Leadership Luncheons continue to inspire

The Women's Leadership Luncheons, held annually since the 1990s, is an event organized by the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) Central Pacific Province to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of women in leadership.

Women's Leadership Luncheon attendees in Dallas enjoying the speaker presentation.

The event originated from a discussion in 1999 among sisters in Milwaukee and supporters who wanted to host an event in honor of Women’s History Month. The sisters wanted to create an event that would bring together a diverse group of women to further the understanding of leadership - bring women leaders and colleagues together to reflect on the integration of the spiritual and professional dimensions of life.

In the beginning, the events were held on (or near) International Women’s Day on March 8. International Women's Day is a day to honor and celebrate the achievements of women around the world. The day has been marked for over one hundred years and is a global day of recognition and appreciation for the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate the progress made while recognizing the work that still needs to be done.

The very first Women’s Leadership Luncheon featured Margaret Farrow, Wisconsin State Senator, and was titled “Women in Leadership: Will We Make it to the Mountain?” Since then, the luncheons have featured CEOS, judges, political figures, trail blazers, social justice advocates and service leaders. Visit our Women's Leadership Luncheon Archives page to view past speakers, topics and sponsors. A full listing of speakers in each region is located at the end of this page.

Until I came to this luncheon, I never knew that every woman could be a leader, no matter what they do. You don’t have to be a CEO or a president. I never thought of myself as a leader before I came.

- guest at Women’s Leadership Luncheon, St. Paul, Minnesota

Integral to the success of the Women’s Leadership Luncheons were the SSND hosts at each table. Originally, each sister invited people to join them at their table, expanding the outreach of the event and introducing a variety of people to the mission of SSND. The luncheon also integrated students from the various Notre Dame schools as hosts, creating more of an opportunity to give guests a chance to meet people from across the broader SSND community.

Women's Leadership Luncheon attendees in Milwaukee enjoying the speaker presentation.

Since the first event, the Women's Leadership Luncheons have grown significantly in popularity and attendance. The Milwaukee luncheon soon became replicated in other cities and when the provinces merged to what is now the Central Pacific Province, the events became annual in St. Louis, St. Paul, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Dallas. In 2019, the decision to create a coordinated theme across the four cities to further highlight an issue close to the SSND mission, with focuses on human trafficking to diversity to Care of Creation. Over the years, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of guests have joined the sisters in this effort, and the luncheons continue to grow its impact. The events quickly grew and now draw hundreds of guests; in St. Louis, the event exceeds 600 people.

The Women's Leadership Luncheons continues to be an educational and empowering event, providing an opportunity for participants to come together to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women in leadership and work together to create a better future for women. It is an event that has made a significant impact on the communities and continues to be a source of inspiration for all who attend.

The proceeds from the event go to support the SSND’s many ministries, which include social service programs, educational programs, and spiritual and retreat programs. To register for one of the luncheons or to donate, visit our Women's Leadership Luncheon 2023 webpage.


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School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



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