Women in Leadership Panel presented by Archer Alumni Board

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Photo credit: Sabrina Kim

Nichol Whiteman, Kiesha Nix, Michelle Bohan and Marlene Tsuchii-Dalston sit on a panel of women in leadership positions in different industries. The panelists, chosen by the Archer Alumni Board, spoke about a range of topics from their journeys to leadership to the advice they would give to their younger selves. “I feel like every day I take my whole community to work with me,” Nix said. “They’re counting on me. I can’t let them down — This is bigger than me. It’s great that I accomplished this but what can I do to pave the way for the next me?”

By Grace Doyle , Sports Editor

Juniors and seniors packed into the Kennedy-Marshall Amphitheater March 31 for the Women in Leadership Panel presented by the Archer Alumni Board. It was moderated by two senior executive board members, Bess Frierson and Langdon Janos. Panelists were hand-picked by alumni board members Maya Barnett (’14), Cece Bobbitt (’16) and Dominique Green (’14). The panelists were leaders in fields, such as entertainment and sports, where women and people of color are often underrepresented. The four women spoke about how they first started in their industries, their experiences as women and or people of color, and how they balance their personal and professional lives.

Michelle Bohan is a partner at WME’s Motion Picture and TV Talent Department. She is also the first female board member within that company. When asked about the expedition to their current positions, Bohan said her journey from being a law school dropout to a music agent set a path that other women can follow.

“I did have that awakening where I saw what agents were doing when I was in the legal department, and I thought, ‘Oh, wait a second. I can negotiate. I can be a badass,'” Bohan said. “And now I’m not the only woman in the room at all, and that’s … been really the gift — paying it forward and passing it on.”

Kiesha Nix is the vice president of Charitable Affairs as well as the executive director of the Lakers Youth Foundation. She is the first Black and female vice president in the history of the Lakers organization.

“I do a lot of work in the community. I don’t sit at my desk or my office. I like to be in the community,” Nix said. “It’s important for women like yourselves and others to see me and to understand my story, our stories, where we came from.”

Marlene Tsuchii-Dalston is co-head of international touring and a music agent at the Creative Artists Agency. She also has a daughter who attended Archer. She spoke about how she followed her passions that eventually led to her current career.

“You’ve got to listen to the passion that is within you and follow that path no matter what anybody else tells you,” Tsuchii-Dalston said. “It’s got to come from [your heart], and I know that sounds cliché, but it’s actually how I live my life.”

Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Nichol Whiteman, also spoke on the panel. She has helped put together programming that positively impacts communities.

“I do this work happily and honestly, just very passionately, because the youth that we serve is the kid that I was,” Whiteman said. “And so I’m very, very intimately involved in the work. I wake up every day just doing a job that, yes, I get paid for, but a very rewarding job that obviously has had a significant impact on my children as well.”

If I can help another woman, if I can promote another woman, I’m going to do that. I’m never going to step on another woman.”

— Kiesha Nix, executive director of the Lakers Youth Foundation

When talking about their day-to-day work, the women came to a consensus that each day holds something different.

“There is a sense of wonderment, excitement, nervousness about what the days can be like, and I’ve been an agent for over 25 years,” Bohan said. “I get a lot of rewards now after building a certain career like helping others. I think within me and within the company, it’s a lot about mentorship. I love putting out fires or helping others realize their dreams, and that’s both for the artists I represent, but also the colleagues that I work with.”

Another point many of the women touched on was the significance of having female mentors as well as being one themselves. Nix said that because she is in a position of power, she will use that to help other women in her industry.

“If I can help another woman, if I can promote another woman, I’m going to do that. I’m never going to step on another woman,” Nix said. “And so it’s challenging. There was a time when I didn’t have as many. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been challenged to go out and say to certain women, ‘I need you. I can’t do this with only the men in my life. I need some women to help me navigate.'”

As the panel came to a close, the speakers were given a chance to give their younger selves, as well as current students in attendance, advice.

“There was so much pressure. Pressing of being a woman. The pressure of being at a school away from home. Pressure being the first this and the first that. I’m the [eldest] girl of my five siblings, but no one told me, ‘Take care of yourself,'” Whiteman said. “You don’t have to be the pillar and the strength for everyone around you.”

Nix spoke to the reality of what it’s like being a woman in the workforce. She said that while it’s not fair that women have to work harder, they can still accomplish just as much as men.

“Just the fact that we are all women, just know that you are going to have to work harder, and it is [the] reality,” Nix said. “Is it okay? Is it fair? No. But that’s our reality. And just know that. Going into it, I’ve got to be stronger. I’ve got to be smarter. I’ve got to be faster. Hard work is the great equalizer, ladies. And if we work hard, we too can accomplish what all these men are doing out there.”

Coming from a professional as well as parental perspective, Tsuchii-Dalston said the community of women that Archer provides is special.

“This community, you should really be proud of it,” Tsuchii-Dalston said. “Treasure it. It is very special.”

With her last piece of advice, Nix said that individuality is key.

“You don’t have to fit in the box,” Nix said. “You can create your own box. Just really be authentically you. And be unapologetic about that.”