This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.

"Trust Yourself" and other Lessons in Resilience Drive EMPOWER Panel Discussion

What is resilience, why is it so important, and how do you know if you’re resilient enough? 
On Thursday, March 28, Indian Creek’s EMPOWER club hosted a program focused on resilience. Three panelists shared information about their professional and personal lives, illustrating ways to overcome challenges. The guest speakers had a wealth of wisdom, bringing their experiences as authors, a lawyer, a technology and hospitality executive, and as a journalist to the discussion.

The panel discussion was moderated by EMPOWER President Maddie Mixter ’24 and EMPOWER member Sophie Geismar ’25. Important advice that emerged from the conversation with these three incredible women included:
  • Try something new.
  • Be willing to take risks.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Follow your passion.
  • Education is an equalizer.
  • Take classes that intimidate you.
  • Cultivate empathy for how others see the world.
Author and former attorney Jeanette Melendez Bead shared information about what it takes to become a lawyer, which she did before she pursued her dream of becoming an author. She reflected, “As a female, if you work in certain fields, you will often be the only woman in the room.” She encouraged students to “Have courage to be the person to speak up and correct assumptions.”

Technology executive Laura Ann Edwards emphasized the importance of allyship. She encouraged students to “do what it takes to stand out” and “develop strong relationships with mentors.”

Author and advocate Gayle Tzemach Lemmon reflected upon her work focused on important global issues such as child marriage. To solve significant global challenges, Ms. Lemmon stated “We need women looking at the full 360-degree view of global issues.”
Ms. Bead reflected, “When you have an obstacle, you can try to correct it and you can learn from it.” Ms. Lemmon noted “Obstacles are part of the process.” She also shared an adage that her grandmother used to tell her to help keep her problems in perspective: “On a scale of major world tragedies, yours is not a three.”

Each of the panelists also shared their insights about how to build your own resiliency. Ms. Edwards suggested gratitude, attitude, and aptitude lead to resilience. Ms. Bead encouraged students to focus on appreciation sharing, “The things you work hard for have the most meaning.” Ms. Lemmon suggested, “Trust yourself. Listen to yourself.” 

Thank you to Ms. Melendez Bead, Ms. Edwards, and Ms. Tzemach Lemmon for serving as role models for ICS students. Full panelist bios can be found below:
Jeanette Melendez Bead 
Writing under a pseudonym, Jeanette Melendez Bead is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance novels. Her books have received praise and recognition from Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Book Page, Entertainment Weekly, the International Latino Book Awards, the Goodreads Choice Awards, and more. Booklist called her the “go-to author” for fans of contemporary romances, and Cosmopolitan said she is “a master of the modern romance novel.”
Before embarking on a writing career, Jeanette was a partner in Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP, a boutique law firm specializing in First Amendment, media, and entertainment litigation. As the first and only partner of color in the firm’s history, she regularly represented news, entertainment and other media organizations in libel, privacy, and related matters in courts around the country. She also served as regular pre-broadcast review counsel for America’s Most Wanted and co-authored Handcuffing the Press: First Amendment Limitations on the Reach of Criminal Statutes as Applied to the Media, 55 New York Law School Review 101, 2011.
During her law practice, Ms. Bead founded and chaired the ABA’s Forum on Communications Law First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, which sought to expose members of minority law student groups to the practice of media law. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, teaching Media Law to undergraduate students.
Ms. Bead completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving her B.A. in 1995, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. She received her J.D. from The Yale Law School in 1998. 
Laura Ann Edwards 
 Laura Edwards, a strong, committed leader in technology; Payment Security, Hospitality, Federal/Civilian/ Department of Defense and Healthcare, with over 25 years of experience in male-dominated industries, Laura has shattered glass ceilings and empowered countless women along the way.

A seasoned executive dedicated to driving growth, customer success, and empowering teams, Laura currently serves as the Enterprise Customer Success Partner at SAP for global healthcare. She navigates the SAP ecosystem to deliver value to clients across regulated industries. Previously as EVP at Merchant Link Laura was instrumental in building workforce development solutions that focused on equity.  The programs launched people into new careers and areas of focus.
In addition to her corporate roles, Laura owns her own firm, Sonata Venture Solutions, focused on workforce development and leadership coaching, further amplifying her impact on cultivating diverse, high-performing teams and promoting women in leadership. 
A vocal evangelist for diversity, equity, and inclusion, serving on several boards, as a globally recognized public speaker, and certified in DEI through Cornell University Laura currently chairs the North America Diversity Inclusion Council and the Regulated Industries DEI Council as well as Global Women in Leadership.
Beyond her professional impact, Laura actively gives back as COO of a non-profit supporting families post-incarceration and impacted by trauma, poverty, and addiction. In her free time, she indulges her creative side through her hobby of interior design. She also enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her husband and loved ones.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon 
Ms. Lemmon is the author of three New York Times best sellers: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (2011), about a young entrepreneur who supported her community under the Taliban; Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield  (2015); and The Daughters of Kobani (2021), about the women warriors who took on the Islamic State in Syria. Both Ashley’s War and The Daughters of Kobani are in the process of Hollywood screen adaptation. Gayle's first TED talk, in 2011, focused on the economic urgency of investing in women entrepreneurs. 

In 2014, she wrote for the Council on Foreign Relations about the connections among child marriage, conflict, and climate change. Lemmon earned an MBA from Harvard and received the Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. She has appeared frequently on broadcast outlets and written for the Harvard Business Review, the World Bank, Bloomberg, CNN, MSNBC, and the Harvard Business School, among others.

Most recently, her work has focused on investing in energy transition and combatting climate change. Lemmon is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee and the International Center for Research on Women's advisory council. A Fulbright Scholar and Robert Bosch Fellow, she speaks Spanish, German and conversational French, and is conversant in Dari and Kurmanci. 

Indian Creek school is a co-educational, college preparatory independent school, located in Crownsville, Maryland.  Students in Pre-K3 through grade 12 receive a vibrant educational experience based on excellent academics steeped in strong student-teacher connections.