In 2015, a successful female executive launched a speaker series to encourage and empower women. The partner and chief operation and financial officer at Irvine’s Squar Milner, LLP, one of the nation’s largest accounting firms, Scharell Jackson sought to create an environment that would “motivate, inspire, educate and equip women to see themselves as leaders and pivot their lives forward personally, professionally, and in the community.”

And at her next event, Long Beach's Dr. Karen Semien-McBride will be Jackson's featured speaker.

Jackson’s vision led to the creation of an uplifting quarterly program called Leadership in Heels. Although the series was designed with women in mind, both men and women are invited to participate in LIH events; to date, more than 2,000 people have attended these presentations. A portion of the program’s proceeds are used to support local nonprofits in the community.

The next LIH engagement, “The Courage to Lead ǀ The Time Is Now,” will be Nov. 21 at the Center Club in Costa Mesa. During the November gathering, Jackson and Coast Magazine editor Samantha Dunn will host a discussion about courageous leadership. Then Semien-McBride will take the stage.

“I selected Dr. Karen Semien-McBride as our featured Woman in Business because ‘The Courage to Lead ǀ The Time is Now’ is aligned with Karen’s work as a courageous leader and executive coach,” Jackson said.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a Master’s degree in Organizational Management, and a Doctoral degree in Business Administration/Management, Long Beach resident Semien-McBride has more than 25 years of business experience business and more than 10 years as a C- level executive. In 2004, Semien-McBride founded AORW (Association of Rejuvenating Women), which is now known as the CEO Institute. This past May, Semien-McBride debuted the CEO Institute: Executive Coach Program for Leaders and Entrepreneurs to more than 10,000 women at the Long Beach Convention Center during the Women’s Health Expo.

“This is my life’s work, to build up emotionally intelligent, growth-mindset leaders so they can lead organizations to sustainability, growth, and profitability all while empowering our current and future workforce, Semien-McBride said. “Courage is a core part of leadership.”

Jackson expressed her enthusiasm about the theme of the upcoming program.

“This dynamic event will equip attendees to evaluate their leadership decisions and empower them to exercise the power to lead without yielding to the pressures that weigh them down,” Jackson said. “Leadership requires courage and there is no better time than now.”

The program will run from 7 to 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21 at Costa Mesa’s Center Club. Leadership in Heels events offer breakfast, networking opportunities, and giveaways in addition to the interactive presentations and exercises. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased at

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