St. Norbert Leadership Conference

Student Leadership Programs brings a group of UWM students to the annual St. Norbert College Student Leadership Conference in De Pere, WI every year! The 2021 Conference will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2021. Transportation, breakfast, and lunch are provided for all attendees.

Applications for the 2021 Conference will open in late fall/early winter 2020. If you are interested in attending the conference or have any questions, email leadership-program@uwm.edu.

The theme of the 2020 conference was Breaking Down Barriers, Building Up Leaders. This past year’s keynote featured an interactive activity, Factuality, facilitated by its creator, Natalie Gillard. Read more about this experience from our Leadership Program Assistant, Mackenzie:

In All Factuality

Reporting to UW-Milwaukee’s campus at 6:45 in the morning, on a Saturday? Not fun. Spending four hours of the day on a bus to and from De Pere, Wisconsin? Not fun either. But at the cost of attending St. Norbert College’s Leadership Conference to play a board game? Oddly enough, absolutely worth it!

The annual St. Norbert Leadership Conference started with a much-needed coffee, assortment of scones, and networking in an overcast-lit conference hall. This year’s theme was called “Breaking Down Barriers, Building Up Leaders,” focusing on structural disparities found in America. Sitting at each table was a knock-off version of Monopoly titled, “FACTUALITY” that no student seemed to know what to do with. Soon enough the keynote speaker, Natalie Gillard, a mixed Indian and African American woman, took the stand. From working with past colleges to corporate companies like Bill Gates Millennium Scholars, Gillard explained her invented game’s purpose to bring awareness to structural inequality based on national statistics through the style of monopoly.

Each student was given a different player identity than who they actually were. For example, I, a white female, played the game as “Justin”, a Latinx male. Each player started with a different sum of money and even had different rules regarding what they were paid or could buy throughout the game. At one point all females had to pay each male player fifteen dollars to illustrate the pay gap in America. Gillard was quite literally, putting students in another person’s shoes.

As each table wrapped up their last turn, Rae Ballinger, a student from St. Norbert College, commented she learned one’s upbringing can make it, “hard to escape the racial inequities and escape the systems that our society has put on these different races.” Farok Rashid from UW-Milwaukee commented that because of the game he is, “setting a goal of assuming less and asking more.” Everyone at the tables agreed that even though it was refreshing to be another identity, they also kept in mind that this was someone’s reality. It was this fact that motivated them more than they already were, to take steps for change.