4th Annual FORWARD Symposium: THRIVE: Advancing at Every Age

Symposium logo with photo of Ashton Applewhite, wearing a white shirt and brown glasses, and text that says, "The Women’s Place presents keynote speaker Ashton Applewhite, distinguished author and activist for age-inclusivity.”
Oct 27, 2023
Time: Friday 11am-1pm
Featured speakers:
Ashton Applewhite, distinguished author and activist for age-inclusivity
The Women's Place
Registration closed: Oct 27, 2023
More information
Registration closed: Oct 27, 2023

The Women’s Place invites you to join us for the 4th annual virtual FORWARD symposium. This year’s theme, “THRIVE: Advancing at Every Age,” delves into the multifaceted journey of professional growth and development, catering to individuals of all generations and focusing on women in the workplace.

THRIVE: Advancing at Every Age welcomes professionals of all ages, including students, early-career professionals, mid-career changers, and seasoned experts. Whether just beginning your career journey or to redefine your path, this symposium offers knowledge, tools, and insights for challenging ageism and thriving in today's ever-changing professional landscape.

This year’s symposium will feature keynote speaker Ashton Applewhite. The author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, Applewhite is a leading spokesperson for the emerging movement to raise awareness of ageism and to dismantle it. She focuses on topics such as what makes aging different for women; how the double impact of ageism and sexism affect women’s health, income, and well-being; and how competing to “stay young” digs the hole even deeper. Applewhite claims that the women’s movement taught us to claim our power; a pro-aging movement will teach us to hold onto it.

A co-founder of the Old School Anti-Ageism Clearinghouse, Applewhite has been recognized by the New York Times, the New Yorker, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. She has written for Harper’s, the Guardian, and the New York Times; blogs at This Chair Rocks; and is the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? She speaks widely at venues that have ranged from colleges and symposia to the TED main stage and the United Nations.

This free event is open to Ohio State faculty, staff, students, and community partners of all genders. Save the date and revisit this page for more details on the panels.

If you have questions about accessibility or wish to request accommodations, please contact womensplace@osu.edu. Typically, a two-week notice will allow us to provide seamless access.


11 – 11:05am
Occasion and Opening Remarks

Andreá Williams, The Women’s Place, The Ohio State University

11:05am – Noon
Panel: Age is Only a Number

During this conversation between women representing early, mid-level, and senior-level career perspectives, each panelist will share her experiences navigating her career through modern transitions and culture change. Panelists will also discuss topics relating to age including equal pay, benefits for parents and caregivers, intergenerational mentorship, and age-related barriers women face with promotions and professional development.

Moderator: Marisa Sheldon, Director, Age-Friendly Innovation Center, The Ohio State University College of Social Work


  • Christian Johnson is the program manager for Leadership and Social Justice at the Columbus YWCA. Christian possesses a strong background in education, special event planning, program development, politics and mentorship. At the YWCA, she works to empower women and eliminate racism through various advocacy programs and projects for women, girls, marginalized and underrepresented communities around Columbus, Ohio. She is also the Co-Founder of ABC Black Iconic figures, CEO and Founder of CNoelDesigns, and the Business Manager for Broken English:101.
  • Sophia Fifner is the president and CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC), a visionary organization that connects people and ideas through community conversation. Sophia launched her career in philanthropy and public policy. Over time, she has helped secure and steward over $100 million in funds to support social impact and has served as a strategic senior advisor for S&P 500 CEOs and executives on messaging, channels, and delivery style with publications such as MSNBC, Bloomberg, Forbes, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal. Sophia is an active volunteer and passionate about supporting survivors of sexual violence and gender equity. Currently, she gives her time to the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, Ohio Crime Victims Justice Center, Marsys’ Law for Ohio, Freedom a la Cart, and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
  • Dr. Sierra Austin-King serves as the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio's Regional School Improvement Coordinator for Equity and Diversity and as a senior lecturer for the Departments of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies and African American & African Studies at The Ohio State University. She has also held teaching appointments at Purdue University, Denison University, and Columbus College & Art Design. She is a recent Leadership Columbus alumna and has been recognized as a Women for Economic Leadership Development (WELD) 2023 Calendar Honoree, a Leadership Ohio Ambassador (2021), YWCA Columbus Sue Doody Alumni of the Year (2020), and a JPMorgan Chase & Deloitte Wise Women Rising Star (2019). She currently serves as chair elect and grants committee chair of the Women's Fund of Central Ohio. She is also a member of Columbus College of Art & Design's Presidential Commission on DEI, the Franklin University School of Education Advisory Board, and is a member of the YWCA Columbus Alumni Committee.
  • Abigail Bailey is a gerontologist who specializes in family caregiving, aging in place, supporting the long term care workforce, and dementia care. She has a Master’s of Science in aging and health concentrated in policy and economics from Georgetown University and is in the fourth year of her doctoral program in Social Gerontology from Miami University. Abigail is passionate about advocating for aging related policies to better support older adults and their family caregivers, as well as educating individuals on the intersectionality that age plays across life course. She has experience interning at AARP headquarters in their caregiving and health division, where she focused on helping employers support employees who are balancing both work and caregiving responsibilities. While completing her dissertation, Abigail is working for Home Instead (Meadville, PA) educating families and coordinating care to help older adults in the community receive quality care in their own homes.

Noon – 12:55pm
Keynote Address

Moderator: Andreá Williams, The Women’s Place, The Ohio State University
Guest speaker: Ashton Applewhite, author, speaker and activist for age-inclusivity

12:55 – 1:00pm
Closing comments Andreá N. Williams