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Peer Forums for Women in Leadership expand opportunities and circles of influence

Catherine Cheshire



Dr. Mary Key

Women have recently lost hard-earned gains in the workplace. The pandemic has taken its toll – the number of women remaining in the workforce has reverted to 1988 levels. The situation is problematic, particularly at the senior levels where women have been in the minority from the start. Add to this the complexity of a world where change is the only constant, and the stress of managing a household, and it’s no wonder that women choose to leave high pressure positions. 

Organizations with more senior ranking women have a competitive edge. How can companies attract and retain them, especially considering challenging circumstances? Companies have an opportunity to bolster their female leaders and provide a framework to take them from surviving to thriving. It can get lonely at the top. Knowing you’re not alone can make all the difference. Recent research indicates that women in business who seek out peer support groups are more successful and happier than those who do not.

After years of facilitating CEO Roundtables for Inc. Magazine and other partners, Dr. Mary Key saw the outstanding results that these mostly male-run companies gained from participation. Locally, Key facilitated an all-technology CEO Roundtable with superstar CEOs including Tom Wallace, Tony DiBenedetto and Steve MacDonald.

In 2014, she piloted the first Key Women’s Leadership Forum. Key saw the same need for women in leadership roles, whether they ran their own companies or worked for one. The women were frequently asked to mentor others and serve on the executive team but developmentally, there was a gap in providing support for these leaders and their unique needs.

Key observes, “When a woman in leadership realizes that she’s not alone, it can make all the difference. I used to believe that convening a separate women’s leadership peer group was not necessary and that mixed groups of CEOs or key leaders were adequate. I’ve changed my thinking – and the results support it.”

The purpose of our Key Women’s Leadership Forum is to bring together women in leadership roles and focus on the whole self – mind, body, spirit and career. Each peer forum addresses pressing issues, how to leverage influence, and strategic thinking, and serves as a group of trusted advisors to each other. Perhaps one of the members summed it up best when she commented, “It’s like being with your best girlfriends, but they understand what you do.”

Employers looking to enable and empower their leaders to function at their best, and with heightened awareness, intention and creativity, often look to executive coaches. Membership in the Key Women’s Leadership Forum melds together the benefit of one-to-one executive coaching with a monthly Forum meeting with other senior women, led by a seasoned facilitator in a structure that allows women leaders to address challenges or opportunities with a wealth of roundtable insight from women with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Key Women’s Leadership Forums operate in-person and virtually. For local female leaders who desire to meet in person, cohorts meet monthly at the Centre Club in Tampa. Virtual Forums are also available, and are open to female leaders outside of the Tampa Bay region.

New Forums are forming now. Hear more about the experience from founders, CEOs and senior leaders on our website. Book a Consult today, as a senior female leader or corporate sponsor.

Join the next Key Women’s Leadership Forum


St. Pete Catalyst readers who join a Forum, receive a complimentary copy of Dr Key’s latest book, Seizing Success.

Book a Forum Consult

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