Virginia Tech alumna Heather Leeper, creator and founder of Little Leapers Dance Studio, will be the featured speaker in the Women Influencing the Arts series on Oct. 13, at the Virginia Tech Women’s Center. Leeper will speak on the topic of “Women Supporting Women: The Importance of Having a Network.”

Many women face the challenge of supporting one another in the workplace.

“From the time we’re little girls, we’re taught to compete,” Sophia Nelson, author of “The Woman Code,” told CNN. “I need to be prettier, taller, smarter; my hair needs to be straighter, curlier, whatever it is. I need to get the better-looking guy. I need to always be better than because we’re taught to come from a place of lack as women."

In her presentation to students and community members, Leeper will be tackling this issue and advocating kindness. She will tell the audience of her own struggle to deal with unkindness and how it almost made her give up everything she had worked to achieve.

“While judgment and reaction in the arts are critical to the growing process, when not constructive it can be hurtful,” Leeper said. “Not only to those creating the art, but to the community in which we are growing and living.”

Being kind to one another is something Leeper believes in wholeheartedly and teaches to her students at Little Leapers Dance Studio. Last year, after deciding to turn the negativity in her life into something positive for the community, she created the organization Be Kind Blacksburg.

“Every single individual holds value in our community,” Leeper said, “and for that we must show kindness.”

Leeper’s talk will begin at 5:30 p.m. at  the Virginia Tech Women’s Center, located at 206 Washington St. Parking is limited. Use on-street parking, the Squires parking lot, the Architecture Annex parking lot, or the Kent Square parking garage.

The Women Influencing the Arts speaker series is sponsored by the Virginia Tech Women’s Center and the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts. For more information, visit the website.

All events are free and open to the public. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Free reservations are available online.

Written by Donna Thompson, of Blacksburg, Virginia, a graduate student studying arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts.

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