Gville doctor among scheduled speakers for Brenau colloquium

A trio of women leaders from diverse backgrounds in journalism, education and medicine – including a Gainesville doctor – will share their stories about leadership Friday as part of the 10th annual Women’s Leadership Colloquium hosted by The Women’s College at Brenau University. And it’s open to the public.


“Students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of Brenau are invited to the event celebrating the GOLD Program’s “G” year theme around gender awareness: authenticity, alliance and advocacy. This year’s colloquium has special significance as Brenau observes its 145th anniversary of educating women and preparing them to lead.

Debra Dobkins, Ph.D., assistant vice president and dean of The Women’s College, started the event and has hosted it for 10 years.

“My motivation for starting the event 10 years ago was to position Brenau as a thought leader in matters related to women in leadership and to provide our students and alumni opportunities to learn from successful women who can mentor them. The event can help all participants build leadership skills and experience personal, professional growth,” Dobkins said. “I also love it when leaders in the community meet and are impressed by Brenau women. We work hard to ensure an informative, uplifting afternoon for everyone.”

The keynote speaker is Julia Carpenter, who covers personal finance for The Wall Street Journal. She previously worked at CNN Business and the Washington Post, reporting on gender, culture and workplace issues. She is an award-winning journalist and co-author of The New Rules of Money, a personal finance workbook from The Wall Street Journal and Penguin Random House.

Chandra Owenby Hopkins, Ph.D., WC ’05, is the Alumni Association Endowed Speaker. Hopkins is the dean of the Converse College for Women at Converse University and also an award-winning associate professor of theater, a theater historian, and a director. She majored in theater at Brenau and was actively involved in the Gainesville Theatre Alliance and the Writing Center. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Ph.D. in theater and performance studies from the University of Kansas.

Betsy Grunch, M.D., is the Featured Speaker. Grunch is a board-certified neurosurgeon from Gainesville, Georgia. She is a fellow with the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons. She earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at the University of Georgia and then went to the Medical College of Georgia. She completed her residency in neurological surgery at Duke University Medical Center. In 2013, Grunch returned to her hometown to join The Longstreet Clinic, where she still works today.

While the public is invited to attend, Dobkins said her main goal is to provide role models for students.

“I’m hoping that students will be inspired and motivated by our speakers and their leadership stories, be better prepared to become strong and compassionate leaders themselves, learn how to face obstacles and challenges as leaders, and to see new possibilities for various authentic approaches to leadership,” Dobkins said. “Many former students now attend the event as alumni, so that is exciting. My aim is to build a quality program with engaging speakers who are passionate about what they do, who are eager to share their experience with our students.”

In addition to the speakers, the colloquium also features student speakers and performers, a tea party and closing reception, along with a few surprises. Dobkins noted that several people have attended all nine previous colloquiums and plan to attend this year.

Thanks to a donor’s gift, the scholarship competition for Brenau students introduced last year also is returning this year, Dobkins said.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 1:30-4:30 p.m. in the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts. A reception will follow. More information and how to register can be found online here.”