A forum honoring International Women’s Day drew a capacity crowd on Friday, March 2 in Antioch University Santa Barbara’s community hall. Guest panelists included Lori Luhnow, Santa Barbara Police Chief, retired U.S. Army Colonel Kathryn Burba, and Barbara Ben-Horin, CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara. Barbara Greenleaf, author, entrepreneur, and social commentator, acted as moderator for the discussion.
The forum, titled Breaking the Glass Ceiling Through Authentic Leadership, was hosted by Antioch University’s MBA program and introduced by the Chair, Anna Kwong. She told the crowd of engaged professionals and MBA students that the panelists were chosen for their exemplary examples of leadership and commitment to social responsibility. She also noted the discussion highlighted how “authentic leadership is something that may be easier said than done.”
Chief Luhnow discussed her path to becoming the City’s Chief of Police. Before her appointment in Santa Barbara, Luhnow served for 27 years in the San Diego Police Department, rising to the rank of captain. When the opportunity arose to become police chief in Santa Barbara, a mentor encouraged her to apply. On the topic of leadership, Chief Luhnow felt it was important to “listen, trust the process and most importantly, be your authentic self.” For young women coming up the ranks in any profession, she advised them “not to deny yourself the opportunity to be considered for positions and get yourself where you want to go – no matter what barriers lay ahead.”
Colonel Burba, a former brigade commander, described her approach to leadership in the military with inspiring advice to MBA students in the room. She made a point to highlight the different leadership skills needed at the direct, organizational and strategic levels. She also emphasized that which remains the same, “a good leader must always provide purpose, direction, and motivation.” She continued to say that, “Authentic leadership requires that we treat people with dignity and respect, that we remain transparent, and that we never forfeit our integrity.”
Barbara Ben-Horin spoke about her many years of service in the nonprofit world, after some years in banking. She said she gained valuable insight from her previous work as an executive director in two organizations (the Jewish Federation and Domestic Violence Solutions) and as CEO of the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College. Two life lessons that informed her leadership style were discipline and accountability, which she gained early in life. Her passion for empowering others was evident when she described “planting seeds of strength in the employees and girls of Girls Inc.” She emphasized the importance of being able to assess the organization and tackle challenges head on. “Lead by change, vision, and excite others,” Ben-Horin said.
When asked in reflection how the panel went, Burba summed it up: “It was great to see so many young professionals in the crowd. I think Antioch University does a wonderful job of opening up important dialog to the public. The key to breaking barriers is competency and endurance. Believe it or not, we still don’t have equal rights under the law in this country; let’s hope we can elect powerful leaders who can finally legalize that this year.”
Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic and environmental justice. Antioch aspires to be a leading university offering learners and communities transformative education in a global context that fosters innovation and inspires social action. Learn more about AUSB’s MBA program.
Special thanks to Lynn Houston for this article.