2017 Women’s Leadership Colloquium Speakers

Women's Leadership Colloquium Logo

Brenau University students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends gathered for conversations about the unique potential and challenges of women’s leadership Friday at the fourth annual Women’s Leadership Colloquium.

The event, organized by Brenau Women’s College, was held in the Hosch Theatre in the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts and included successful female leaders sharing their career stories, passion and advice for others who aspire to lead.

The guest presenters included keynote speaker Catherine Dixon, a principal at ghSMART; Mary Kathryn Wells, chief executive officer of Wells Marketing Agency; Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, educational consultant and former superintendent of Birmingham City Schools; Amy Whitley, retired vice president of human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer for UPS; and retired Rear Adm. Patty Wolfe of the U.S. Navy Supply Corps.

Read the full story and see the photo gallery.

2017 Speakers

Catherine Dixon
Catherine Dixon

Catherine Dixon is a principal at ghSMART, a firm that serves major corporate and private equity clients often in the context of merger and acquisition activity. Her specialties include helping boards, executives and investors address their most pressing leadership challenges. Dixon’s assessment work and more than 20 years of consulting, merger and acquisition, human capital and finance experience have helped her clients make optimal hiring and organizational decisions to maximize value-creation opportunities.

Prior to joining ghSMART, Dixon was a practice director at The Intersect Group, where for more than five years she advised CEOs and senior executives of public and private companies and private equity organizations on the issues of merger and acquisition, business strategy, financial improvements and human capital. While at Intersect, she led the firm’s merger and acquisition practice and served as a senior adviser to her clients on a number of strategic, operational and hiring matters.

Prior to her work at The Intersect Group, Dixon spent about five years in mergers and acquisitions with publicly traded ChoicePoint, where she bought and sold a variety of companies. Previously Dixon spent several years as an investment banker with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, where she helped clients raise capital and execute merger and acquisition transactions. She was also responsible for recruiting activities while at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

Before earning an MBA in finance from Harvard Business School, Dixon worked in accounting at Coca-Cola Enterprises and as an audit senior for Arthur Andersen. She is an active CPA. She received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Wake Forest University, where she graduated cum laude. Catherine lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children.

Mary Kathryn Wells, WC '00

Mary Kathryn Wells has more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience, specializing in opening specialty and luxury shopping, dining and entertainment centers. She has successfully launched several luxury residential properties from conception to acquisition. She served as the director of marketing for The Shops Buckhead Atlanta and is currently CEO of the Wells Agency.

Wells began her career with Turnberry Associates as the director of marketing at Destin Commons in Destin, Florida, and then spent three years as the director of marketing for Turnberry Associates Town Square Las Vegas, which received numerous awards, including four MAXI awards from the International Council of Shopping Centers. In Destin, Wells graced the covers of Emerald Coast Magazine as a Top Entrepreneur Under 30 and Emerald Ladies Journal as the Emerald Lady. In 2015, she was profiled as one of six Top Entrepreneurs Under 40 by The Atlantan magazine.

In the fall of 2016, Wells founded The Wells Agency. The company was born out of her passion for marketing and ensuring her clients have the most successful efforts. Most important, she wanted to work with clients that she enjoyed and who share her simple values of being good to one another. The Wells Agency provides innovative, award-winning solutions to companies looking to launch, create buzz, engage with customers, drive sales and grow their businesses through branding, marketing, advertising, community relations, digital and social media and events. The agency continually interprets current trends and implements new ideas. Whether it deals with a Fortune 500 company, a seasoned business, a startup or a community nonprofit, the Wells Agency is committed and attentive to details, ensuring unique, dynamic and successful results.

Wells is passionately dedicated to business, philanthropic causes and active community involvement. Over the course of her professional career, she has served on the boards of the Ronald McDonald House, Sinfonia Gulf Coast and Nevada Ballet and has been a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. Currently living in Atlanta, Wells serves on the board of the Woodruff Arts Center Corporate Campaign Committee and sits on several host committees that benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She is an active member of both the Buckhead Business Association and Brenau Women’s College Alumni Association.

Mary Kathryn Wells
Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, BU '95
Kelly Castlin-Gacutan

Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, also known as Dr. G, began her career as a high school English teacher in Kagoshima, Japan. She is a seasoned educator with 25 years of experience ranging from classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, district-level administrator, university professor/director and school superintendent. Currently, she is founder and CEO of Kennrod, a nonprofit dedicated to providing supplemental education services to pre-K through 12th-gradestudents in underserved communities.

As the former superintendent of Birmingham (Alabama) City Schools, Castlin-Gacutan was responsible for more than 24,000 students, 2,800 employees and a $246 million operating budget. Under her leadership, Birmingham City Schools became one of two school systems in Alabama to be identified as a charter-school authorizer. The school system also became a candidate for systemwide accreditation through AdvancEd; it implemented a K-12 reading initiative in an effort to promote systematic literacy and professional learning and a five-year strategic plan that focuses on teaching and learning, human capital, culture and climate, strategic partnership and engagement, and systems and processes.

Castlin-Gacutan earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in sociology from Tennessee State University, a Master of Education in early childhood education from Brenau University and a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. She has spent most of her professional career in Georgia, having worked in Fulton County Schools, Marietta City Schools, Clarke County Schools and Bibb County Schools. She is grateful for all of the aforementioned experiences as each has contributed to her ability to support students in achieving their full potentials. Castlin-Gacutan and her husband, Pedro, have a blended family of three daughters, Asevia, Zani and Ryan, and one son, Kyle. Their toy poodle, Chloe, is also a big part of the family.

Amy Whitley

Amy Whitley retired in January 2016 as vice president of human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer for UPS, a global leader in logistics and the world’s largest package delivery company. UPS offers an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. As a $58 billion global company with 440,000 employees, UPS is one of the most recognized and admired brands in the world.

In her executive leadership role with the company, Whitley created strategic HR policy and practices in the area of workforce planning and hiring, employee relations, organizational development and training and development. Additionally, she oversaw the administration of the company’s diversity and inclusion strategies, ensuring UPS leveraged the unique perspectives of a global, diverse workforce. Whitley was the first diversity and inclusion officer for UPS. She championed the company Diversity Steering Council for 10 years.

Whitley began her career with UPS directly out of college as a package delivery driver in New York. In her 32-year career, she held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in various locations in operations, human resources, UPS airline and supply chain solutions and finally the corporate headquarters in Atlanta. Her passion and energy for making a difference in the lives of UPS employees has been demonstrated in her leadership to create the Women’s Leadership Development Program at UPS, which led to the successful expansion of business resource groups across many employee constituencies. These groups helped unite UPS employees globally by providing development opportunities and ways to make a positive impact in the communities in which they work, live and volunteer. The women’s leadership programs celebrated 10 years of success in October 2016.

Whitley serves on the board of the Human Resources Leadership Forum, the Atlanta affiliate of the Human Resources Planning Society. Additionally, she served for five years on the board of OnBOARD, a Georgia organization seeking to influence public companies to further the advancement of women in the boardroom and executive positions. Whitley was elected in 2016 to the Brenau University Board of Trustees and serves on the Academic Affairs Committee.

A New York native, Whitley holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in human resources from Pace University. Whitley is married and has two children.

Amy Whitley
Patty Wolfe, BU '87
Patty Wolfe

Rear Admiral Patricia Wolfe was born and raised in northern New Jersey and is a 1981 graduate of Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science. She received her commission in the United States Navy through the Villanova Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps Program. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Brenau University.

Wolfe served 32 years in the Navy, retiring in 2013 with the rank of two-star rear admiral. Her accomplishments reflect a number of first assignments that helped break the gender barrier for women in the Navy, including assignment at sea in 1982 aboard the USS Piedmont and command assignment as the first female commanding officer of a Navy cargo handling battalion in 1994. Promoted to rear admiral in 2007, she served in flag officer positions in the U.S. Pacific Fleet, as commander of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group and in multiple executive capacities at the Defense Logistics Agency.

Specializing in expeditionary logistics, Wolfe deployed numerous times to support our country’s military contingency operations and humanitarian relief efforts. In 2007 she led the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Group Forward Headquarters in Kuwait, providing logistics support to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2010 she served as commander of Task Force 48, the Joint Logistics Hub in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that oversaw Navy relief efforts for in Haiti following the disastrous earthquake in 2010. Her final “deployment” was to her home state of New Jersey, where she led the Defense Logistics Agency’s forward supply point for disaster relief following Superstorm Sandy in January 2012.

Wolfe currently serves as a trustee for Brenau University. Her post-Navy activities include small business consulting, nonprofit work and travel. Wolfe and her husband, retired Navy Commander Robert Wolfe, reside in Jacksonville, Florida. They have four children, three grandchildren and two dogs.