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25 Women | 25 Stories: Denise Brosseau and Jennifer Gill Roberts

Posted By Claire Johnson, Monday, February 12, 2018

In celebration of Watermark’s 25th anniversary, we’ve taken a step back to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished so far and commend the ambitious women – and men who get it – who are leading us into the future.


Today, we're kicking off our 25 Women | 25 Stories series with profiles on our co-founders, Denise Brosseau and Jennifer Gill Roberts, who have truly made their mark on our community and beyond.


Denise and Jennifer shared instant chemistry when they met as MBA students at Stanford University more than 25 years ago. After graduating, they came together to address one particular statistic: Less than 1 percent of venture capital financing was going to women-run or women-founded businesses. Their shared vision: Boost that statistic to 50 percent, if not more.


Together, they founded the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), which later became known as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Executives (FWE&E) – and now is known as Watermark.


Twenty-five years later, we still have a long way to go. Female CEOs still get only 2.7 percent of all venture funding. Yet, according to a study by First Round Capital, companies with a woman on the founding team outperform their all-male peers by 63 percent.


The upcoming annual Watermark Conference for Women is one of the most powerful ways Watermark helps fortify our expansive network, and Denise and Jennifer are proud to have helped ignite that movement.

"I remember so clearly coming to the first Watermark Conference for Women," Denise recalls. "Women entrepreneurs, executives, consultants, newbies, college students – there were people of all walks of life, all energized as women leaders. That energizes me to keep going, to keep fighting. How could that not be the most incredible legacy you can ever hope to have? To create a genesis for a conference where everyone is coming together to make change in the world."


That electrifying power of community is at the heart of Watermark and the Conference for Women. The sense of having a sisterhood to support one another is invaluable to advancing our collective and individual impacts in various business sectors.


 Upon reflection, the two share powerful advice to other women entrepreneurs:

“It’s OK to fail. It’s most important to attract the best and brightest people you can. To take risks, to think big, to think about billion-dollar businesses – not smaller businesses. To think about your hiring advantages, your authentic self and the leadership style that you bring to it.” – Jennifer Gill Roberts



“It is not about playing it safe. It is not about taking the easy road. It is about having a big vision. Finding a partner. Be bold. Take things on and get things done. That, to me, is what I’m most proud of – that we were those kinds of people from the very get go.” – Denise Brosseau


We'll post more 25 Women | 25 Stories via social media, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram and @WeAreWatermark on Facebook and LinkedIn. #WeAreWatermark


We hope to see you at the one of our many Watermark events!

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Is Your Voice as Powerful as You Are? Two Workshops with Hillary Wicht

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Thursday, February 8, 2018

5:30-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 28
Fitbit, 215 Fremont St., San Francisco


5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29
Veritas, 500 E. Middlefield Rd., Mountain View


When you walk into a room, you may look the part. Your business accomplishments may indicate that you’re an achiever. But the moment you begin to speak, your audience will be listening carefully to gauge if your voice and message are congruent with your appearance and resume. How we show up vocally leads people to definite and immediate conclusions about how we show up in the world. How we say it is far more persuasive than what we say.

Your listeners decide in just seven seconds. Simply put, there is a strong relationship between vocal acoustics and the psychology of perception: who we are as individuals, our personality, our strengths, what we bring to the table and also our weaknesses are unmasked in the voice.

Hillary Wicht is a voice expert who has been tapped as a specialist by the Wall Street Journal and the Stanford Entrepreneurial Graduate Program for her work on the impact of gender communication styles in the corporate sector.

In this experiential workshop – scheduled for San Francisco and Mountain View – Hillary unveils the ways in which women unknowingly give up their power through the way they communicate. She will uncover the most common “power-leaks” in female communication styles and give insights and tools for communication “power-plays.”


Make you voice at the table as powerful as you are and be the leader you are meant to be in your business, community and the world.

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Your Story is Your Power: An Evening with Elle Luna a​nd Susie Herrick

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Thursday, February 1, 2018
Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2018

5:30-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 14
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
650 Page Mill Rd., Palo Alto


Whether we realize it or not, we define ourselves through stories. Understanding your own story is the key to understanding yourself, your world and your capacity to act within that world. And in the heart of your story, you will find you – your voice, your power and your truth.

In Your Story is Your Power: Free Your Feminine Voice, Elle Luna, bestselling author of The Crossroads of Should and Must and creator of the Instagram 100-Day Project, and Susie Herrick, acclaimed psychotherapist and author of Aphrodite Emerges, ask readers to discover their own stories, challenging them to use that story to cultivate their own feminine power and move forward both as an individual and as part of a strong female community seeking positive change.

This inspiring and practical talk – for both women and men – will show us how to collectively uncover and understand our own stories about feminine power in order to live more confident, unapologetic lives.


Please plan to join us for this very special Watermark evening.


Many thanks to our host:


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Women in Leadership Survey: Win a Google Home Mini!

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Sunday, January 14, 2018

As part of our yearlong celebration, we want to hear about your insights and your experiences in the workplace. Please complete our State of Women in Leadership survey by Friday Jan. 26 and your name will go into a drawing for a Google Home Mini!


We'll share highlights of the survey throughout the year.

Thank you in advance for your time!

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Wonderful WLU at Luisa Spagnoli!

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What a great evening! Thank you all so much for attending our Jan. 9 Peninsula WLU at Luisa Spagnoli – and many thanks to Julia, Irene and the entire Louisa Spagnoli team for making us all feel so welcome and fashionable! Italian prosecco and hors d’oeuvres, gorgeous clothes and accessories and such a wonderful gathering of our Watermark community! What a great way to kick off Watermark's 25th Anniversary.


Check our events calendar for more upcoming WLUs and other world-class programming!

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Happy New Year! And Happy 25th Anniversary from Watermark!

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year, everyone – and Happy 25th Anniversary from Watermark! Can you believe that we've been a lively, vibrant part of the Bay Area community since 1993?

A Little History….
We began as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), founded by Stanford MBA graduates Jennifer Gill Roberts and Denise Brosseau (pictured below) with the intent to connect women entrepreneurs with funding – and with one another. Their work led to more than $6 billion (and counting) in increased investment, dramatically changing the landscape for women-founded and women-led businesses. What a legacy!

Over time, we added “and Executives” to our name, making us FWE&E. In 2010, we became Watermark, a term that indicates the highest level to which water has risen.

While our name has changed, our intent has never wavered. We are here to help you reach your full potential as leaders, executives and entrepreneurs as we work to increase the number of women in leadership positions.

World-Class Programming Ahead
You’ll learn more about our history – and our plans for the future – as we celebrate our anniversary throughout the year. We begin next week with two exciting WLUs and our Breaking the Confidence Code webinar with Charmaine McClarie – and then on Jan. 18, don’t miss our Are You Ready to be a Thought Leader? workshop facilitated by Denise Brosseau, herself.

You’ll find more Watermark events here, with more to come! And remember, we most definitely welcome men – “men who get it,” as we like to call them. The more men who recognize the value of diversity, the better for us all.

For our corporate sponsors, we’ve added 12 new customized workshops – including several dedicated to diversity and inclusion. And for sponsors and members, we’ve almost doubled our number of new webinars this year. Our webinars are included in all membership packages and are available for purchase for non-members.

Take Advantage of Our Alliances
Watermark is proud to partner with several outstanding organizations that complement our own programs and services. Our members enjoy a growing list of special invitations and offers from 1440 Multiversity, Athena Alliance, Better Man Conference, Marketo, ReBoot, Insights, The Guild and more.

Get Social with Us
We’re boosting our social media this year, as well – and we need your help! If we’re not already connected, please join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, and help share our posts with the hashtag #WeAreWatermark.

Our State of Women in Leadership Survey
Your feedback and experiences are very important to us and help us continually refine how we can best be of service to you. Please take a few moments and fill out our State of Women in Leadership survey. Complete the survey by Friday, Jan. 26, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for Google Home Mini!

Members on the Move
Last, let us know how you’re doing. New job? Promotion? Successful product launch? Speaking engagement? Whatever it is, we want to hear about it and help you share the good news in our Members on the Move column. We firmly believe that when one of us takes a step forward, we all take a step forward.

Here’s to the Next 25!
Many thanks to you all for helping us achieve 25 wonderful years. What an incredible milestone. We’re very excited about the future and working together as we build and shape the next 25.

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Watermark's 2018 Webinar Line Up for Q1

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Monday, January 1, 2018

Webinar Wednesdays | 10-11 a.m. PST | WebEx

Happy New Year! If continuous development is part of your 2018 career plan – and we bet it is – tune in for our popular webinar series – each covering a special topic designed to move you to the next level. Our webinars are guaranteed to engage your team and generate productive discussions – consider using them in your monthly Lunch and Learn!

Or access them later – anytime, anywhere. Our webinars are accessible all year long. Be sure to register and we'll send you the log-in link beforehand and the password to the recording afterward.

Our webinars are free to Watermark members and $30 for non-members. Ready to join? Learn about our different membership offerings – and contact Kate for more details.

10-11 a.m. PST, Wednesday, Jan. 10


Have you ever felt that your lack of confidence was holding you back from getting that promotion or higher pay – or from greater joy and ease? Do you wonder how some manage to look and act confident even in the most challenging situations? What's their secret?

Learn more as Charmaine McClarie unveils those secrets, demonstrates how to turn your ideas into powerful action, shows you how to be seen and heard for the value you add and empowers you to have your best year ever.

Charmaine is a senior executive coach who has worked with leaders in 27 industries across five continents. Her clients include top executives from Coca-Cola, DuPont, Humana, Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks and T-Mobile. During her 20+ years as an executive coach, 98 percent of her clients have been promoted within 18 months.

mcclariegroup.com LinkedIn @McClarieGroup

10-11 a.m. PST, Wednesday, Feb. 7


Navigating the corporate world can be difficult. Surviving vs. succeeding involves an intricate dance of placating the masses and expressing your authentic self. Leadership and inclusion expert Sumayyah Emeh-Edu shows you how to develop and build your social capital, gain perspectives on the unspoken rules of engagement, manage microaggressions and pay it forward.

Sumayyah is the founder and principal strategist at Embedded Consulting. She has more than 15 years of professional experience leading various initiatives within higher education and corporate sectors, focused primarily on diversity and professional development. In that time, she has successfully organized Tech Inclusion and The Better Man Conference, with clients also including Kaiser Permanente, PG&E, Asana and Oracle.

sumayyahdni.com LinkedIn @Sumayyah_EE

10-11 a.m. PST, Wednesday, Feb. 28


Forget Type As and Bs. The future lies with Type Rs – the resilient individuals, leaders, businesses, families and communities that turn challenges into opportunities in times of upheaval, crisis and change. In this webinar, Ama Marston explains how you can cultivate Type R strategies and mindsets in your own lives, work, leadership and businesses, and in the larger world as you navigate disruptive change and stress.

Ama is a international strategy and leadership expert and a recognized thought leader focused on Transformative Resilience. For 20 years, she has provided advice, strategy and leadership to the UN, NGOs and FTSE Index and Fortune 500 companies, as well as to global leaders like Mary Robinson (the first female President of Ireland) and economist Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate).

Her new book, Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World, comes out Jan. 9.

type-r-resilience.com LinkedIn @AmaMarston

10-11 a.m. PST, Wednesday, March 7


The #MeToo moment offers new case studies for understanding the impact of bias on your daily workplace experiences and your long-term career roadmaps. How are these incidents at once prevalent and under-scrutinized? In this webinar, Laura Mather, Ph.D., will dive deep into research findings on the ways implicit bias seeps into your day-to-day decision-making and influences. She'll also present solutions that organization leaders should implement to mitigate these kind of microaggressions, as well as strategies for recognizing when you are the victim of implicit bias and steps to combat it.


Laura is an expert on unconscious bias and the neuroscience behind decision-making. She has built advanced technology solutions for the National Security Agency, eBay and her own startups, Silver Tail Systems and Talent Sonar. She is the winner of the Anita Borg Institute's 2017 ABIE Award for Technology Entrepreneurship.


talentsonar.com LinkedIn @TalentSonar

More Great Webinars on the Way!

Mark your calendars for more Watermark webinars! You'll find these and other events at wearewatermark.org. Check back frequently! We're always adding world-class programs to our calendar.

Wednesday, April 4
Ditch the Doubt: How Gender Intelligence Will Make You Rethink Imposter Syndrome with Holly Berkley
Wednesday, April 25
From C-Suite to Boardroom: What You Can Do Today to Become a Board Member with Olga Mack
Wednesday, May 2
Mentors, Sponsors and Coaches – How to Leverage All Three with Jackie Welch
Wednesday, May 16
Workplace Sexual Harassment – Tearing Down Gender Barriers with Kelly Armstrong
Wednesday, July 11
Self Compassion – Your Competitive Leadership Edge with Marie-Jeanne Julliand
Wednesday, Aug. 1
Stop Striving and Start Thriving – Create a Juicy Integrated Life™ with Anisa Rashad
Wednesday, Sept. 12
Wednesday, Oct. 3
The Thoughtfully Ruthless Guide to Rapid Growth with Val Wright
Wednesday, Nov. 7
Wednesday, Dec. 5
Courageous Leadership with Cindy Solomon

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Kick Off the New Year with Women Like Us Networks

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Our Women Like Us (WLU) Networks, held 5:30-7:30 p.m., are among our most popular events – an excellent way to network and connect with other Watermark members and fans who live or work near you. Enjoy some great wines and hors d'oeuvres while you're at it!

Plan to join us for the first four of the new year:

Tuesday, Jan. 9, Peninsula, Luisa Spagnoli, Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto

Thursday, Jan. 11, East Bay, Merit Resource Group, 2121 North California Blvd., Walnut Creek

Thursday, Feb. 1, San Francisco, MM.LaFleur, 125 Maiden Lane, San Francisco

Tuesday, Feb. 6, South Bay,TBD

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Season's Greetings from Watermark

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Saturday, December 23, 2017

As we enjoy the holiday season and draw 2017 to a close, the staff of Watermark would like to thank you for your active membership, sponsorship and partnership. We always enjoy bringing you fantastic speakers, interactive panels, customized workshops, expansive networking opportunities and our special counsel and advocacy as we strive to increase the number of women in leadership positions.

We've had so many great comments this year. Among our favorites:

• "After the events of this past year and the encouragement and inspiration of people and organizations like Watermark, I've looked for opportunities where I can make a positive impact. I'm happy to report that I've just been named General Counsel of Looker, a leading data platform company. I am so excited to see where this path takes me. Watermark is making a difference!" – Tricia Timm, Looker

• "Through Watermark, I've learned that 'no' is a complete sentence."
– Shakeya McDow, Kaiser Permanente

• "Thank you, Watermark, for your support, courage, dedication and commitment for building a tribe of powerful, driven and ambitious professionals." – Olga V. Mack, ClearSlide

We are here for you. We support and celebrate you on the way up the corporate ladder, and we lend a hand, contacts and resources when you need a boost.

Next year, Watermark celebrates our 25th Anniversary – 25 years of making a difference for women – and men – throughout the Bay Area. We have a wonderful line up ahead of customized corporate programs and popular events, including a career- and life-changing Are You Ready to Be a Thought Leader? workshop with our co-founder, Denise Brosseau, CEO, Thought Leadership Lab. Be sure to RSVP – it's Thursday, Jan. 18, at Osborne Clarke in Palo Alto. What a great way to kick off the new year!

Watermark programs are open to everyone. Please feel free to invite your staff, colleagues, customers – and "men who get it." There's something for everyone at Watermark.

We are your community. And we wish you a joyous holiday season and a very successful new year ahead.

Best wishes,

Marlene, Asa, Kate and Mary

If you'd like to expand your support of Watermark even further, we have two great ways for you to do that.

First, consider joining our Watermark Leadership Circles. As part of this exclusive group, your name will be added to our website and included in our promotional materials for our Make Your Mark Awards and other Watermark conferences. You'll also receive invitations to Watermark Leadership Circles special events and offers.

Your contribution to Watermark is 100 percent tax-deductible. Does your company have a matching gift program? Let's connect and add Watermark to it!

Second, switch from Amazon to AmazonSmile, which offers the same products, same account and same wish list. Select Watermark Institute as your preferred non-profit and the AmazonSmile Foundation will direct a portion of all your eligible purchases to Watermark.

Two easy ways to give – and so many ways to benefit from Watermark. We appreciate! Happy Holidays!

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Members and Sponsors on the Move

Posted By Mary Thorsby, Thursday, December 21, 2017

Congratulations to Tricia Timm! Tricia was just named General Counsel of Looker, a leading data platform company. Tricia comes to Looker with over 20 years of experience as both in-house and outside counsel, advising companies on areas such as corporate governance, M&A, data privacy and securities law compliance and obligations.

Congrats also to Denise Thomas, the new Contracts and Pricing Senior Manager at Pharmacyclics. Denise was previously Government Contracts and Pricing Manager at Gilead.

And kudos to Hannah Kain and her ALOM team. ALOM, a global leader in sustainable supply chain management, has been selected to receive the Supply & Demand Chain Executive Green Award for 2017. This is the fourth consecutive year that ALOM has been honored with this award.

New Watermark member Sudha Kasamsetty invites everyone to VerveCon, set for Friday, Feb. 9, at the Santa Clara Conference Center. VerveCon is a "convention for enthusiastic women in technology" in the Bay Area. Register using vc-comp1 as the comp code for a 40 percent discount. Thank you, Sudha!

And last, Watermark is pleased to welcome Silicon Valley Bank as a new sponsor. From technology to health care, from San Jose to Shanghai, SVB supports businesses that invent the future, helping innovators, enterprises and investors move bold ideas forward, fast. A perfect match for Watermark!

Watermark members and sponsors: Send us your good news! We’re always happy to spread the good word and celebrate one another's successes.

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