2013 Professional BusinessWomen of California

May23episode

PBWC Program Director Dale Marie Pfeifer Sets the Stage


Dale Marie Pfeifer was the Program Director at the 2013 Professional BusinessWomen of California Conference.

An innovator and entrepreneur, Dale designs, launches and run programs and networks. She have worked extensively with foundations and non-profits in Washington DC, New York and San Francisco to help them find their purpose and deliver cutting-edge programmes and communications strategies.

Her broad range of professional responsibilities include: designing and implementing programmes, designing, launching and managing campaigns, building social networks that engage key influencers developing communication strategies, establishing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders and influencers, leading professional and organisation development initiatives.

In our podcast interview:

  • Dale describes the exciting lineup from the 2013 Professional BusinessWomen of California Conference.
  • Tell us about her favorite moments.
  • Shares her thoughts on the power and importance of Leaning In.
  • Talks about her views on the future of women in the workforce, and the essence of gender equity.
  • And the Aussie gives us insight into her powerful, burgeoning career.

Don’t miss it! Download the podcast, at right.

Scroll down to read a transcription of our interview with Dale!


Inkandescent Radio: Hi, this is Hope Gibbs. We are here in San Francisco, the day before the Professional Business Women of California Conference, with Program Director Dale Marie Pfeifer. The conference is sold out. Four thousand women are attending. What are you most looking forward to?

Dale Marie Pfeifer: Well, it’s really, really hard to choose, we’ve got such a great program coming up. The morning is starting with a look at where we are now and where we’re going. We’ll learn a lot from Lareina Yee, a partner at McKinsey & Company, who’s going to give us the stats on where we are.

Of course, there is the star of our show, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who will be sharing her insights into how women can “Lean In,” and how they can improve their situation in the workplace, today and in the future.

And then we’ve got an incredible array of workshops and breakout groups from sessions on entrepreneurship, to conflict negotiation, to how you can become a better global leader.

Then in the afternoon we’ve got two portraits of incredible leaders who are not from business. So we’ve got Rita Moreno, who’s going to be talking about the arts and her fascinating career, and we’ve got Governor Jennifer Granholm, who’s the first female Governor of Michigan and is just an incredible voice for women’s leadership.

Inkandescent Radio: That’s such an interesting mix of corporate leaders and business leaders and women in the arts—including another keynote speaker, Rita Moreno, who is 81 years young, and my goodness that woman is a role model for all of us.

The conference is called the “Next Genderation: Unlocking the Full Potential of Women in the Workplace.” Tell us a little bit about why you came up with that concept and exactly what that means.

Dale Marie Pfeifer: The Next Genderation is all about moving to the mixed era, a new era of gender workplace equity. So it’s all about the transition from now into a new exciting reality where women are equal in the workplace. They have equal opportunities, equal pay, equal access to a lot of things that, we don’t quite have right now. The conference’s is focused on how we create that new reality.

Inkandescent Radio: Let’s talk a little about “Lean In,” the blockbuster book by Sheryl Sanberg. She is galvanizing women around the world. From your perspective, how has that idea affected you and what you think about this concept of leaning in?

Dale Marie Pfeifer: What Sheryl has done has been so important because it has reignited a movement around women standing up, particularly in business—as well as in the government and the arts.

Awareness is the first step, and the key to making change. Then it’s up to all of us to take it upon ourselves to create the change that we need. Sheryl’s message is a catalyst for women to be able to stand up and take responsibility for that change happening and stop blaming other people.

I think it’s really exciting from a personal perspective. For myself, I had an idea for an initiative that I wanted to start inside of my organization. And so instead of sitting on that and simply suggesting it to my boss in a casual way, I’ve gotten behind this idea and put it forward in a powerful way. I’ve created the PowerPoints, and I’ve been having the meetings with the players I need to work with to make it happen. This is an example of leaning in, and I think each and every one of us can create this new reality of the Next Genderation.

Inkandescent Radio: Let’s talk a little bit about Lean-In Circles. I know that’s a big push during the conference. What is a Lean-In Circle? How do they work?

Dale Marie Pfeifer: The most thorough information is on Leanin.org and when you go there you can start your own virtual Lean-In Circle. They’re peer-to-peer mentoring circles, so you can sign up yourself, you can sign up with a team, and it provides an online environment and a structure for you to be able to make your way through educational units and then talk about those educational units with your friends, the people in your Lean-In Circle.

These are some of the essential skills that the Lean-In Team has identified that women could get better at to really stick up and lean in. In fact, it’s such a powerful concept that we brought the circles to the conference so thousands of women could get a taste of how it works.

Inkandescent Radio: This is a new era for women. Tell us a little more about yourself and your career. You’re from New Zealand, right?

Dale Marie Pfeifer: I am from New Zealand, and I call myself a recovering academic because I used to run a research center at Victoria University on leadership, and I’m just joking it was an incredible experience and a wonderful, wonderful time to immerse myself, both in the leadership literature and write a lot about leadership, particularly the indigenous Maori was an area of my focus.

I also to do a lot of leadership development trainings for women, for indigenous peoples, for business people, and it was a fantastic opportunity.

I came to the U.S. in 2008 and worked for the East-West Institute, which is diplomacy organization. There, I was in charge of setting up their big global networks, we set up networks of their world’s leading think-tanks, we hosted a lot of different discussions, particularly between U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China.

Today, I am the Director of Partnerships at a firm called Future View in Washington DC, and what we do is we create empowered communities of people through communications. We make films, we design human interactions, so people can become very focused on a particular outcome around social change.

Inkandescent Radio: Tell us a little more about the Professional Business Women of California. It’s an interesting organization. How long has it been around, who founded it, and what is their direct mission in addition to having these amazing conferences?

Dale Marie Pfeifer: It is really a remarkable organization. This is my first year being involved with them as the Program Director and I have just been blown away. Next year is their 25th anniversary, so look out for that because it’s going to be a very special occasion—a lot of really, really interesting things are going to be happening.

It was founded by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who saw a need for businesswomen to work together to create gender equity in the workplace. Honestly, though, she thought that we’d be out of business by now. So it’s great that the organization continues to move forward.

Inkandescent Radio: That’s fabulous. We are thrilled to be here covering this conference where 4,000 women will be convening at the Moscone Center here in California on May 23. Thanks so much for your time, Dale.

Dale Marie Pfeifer: Thank you very much to Inkandescent Radio for coming and covering this event, and making sure that the word gets out and we just appreciate you all very, very much and the wonderful energy and everything that you bring in helping us reach more and more people.

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