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Elaine Penn incorporates storytelling, discussion, original music, and interactive exercises to inspire students both emotionally and intellectually.

With Elaine’s experiential approach, students learn on a deep level, and are able to apply the lessons they’ve learned in their everyday lives. By sharing a thoughtful blend of stories, music, and learning, she takes students on a journey that changes how they think, feel, and act. With a background as a higher education administrator and as a collegiate athlete and coach, Elaine’s programs on leadership, diversity, stress management, and positivity are an excellent fit for all types of student audiences.


Elaine Penn rocked our campus! She brought enthusiasm, high energy, and a fantastic message to our new students during Welcome Weekend. By using music and her amazing sense of humor, Elaine was able to mix in antidotes, personal stories, and real life examples that enabled the students to relate to her in a simple way. The audience was captivated by her and her message of using simple steps to become successful in their transition to college.

Dan Kennedy, Director of New Student Programs and Greek Life, Barton College

Elaine Penn was exactly what we were looking, engaging, insightful and able to connect with our students. She had 2500 incoming freshmen and transfers laughing, singing, and thinking critically about what their college experience could be.

Aaron Bachenheimer, Assistant Director of Organizational Leadership, Appalachian State University

Energetic, informative and animated were adjective frequently used to describe Elaine’s presentation. One student stated “I felt empowered and excited to start leading a more healthy lifestyle”. Thanks Elaine you did a fantastic job.

Thomas Hagan, Assistant Dean for First Year Programs, Elizabethtown College

Elaine went above and beyond our expectations as a speaker on leadership and diversity. She captured everyone's full attention with her relevant and interactive presentation. Her enthusiasm was contagious and left everyone feeling intrigued, wanting to learn more. We definitely would welcome her back; she was inspiring!

John Hill, Shenandoah University

The Heart of Leadership

As influencers and difference-makers, student leaders can help shape the lives of others on campus. Imagine how profound this impact could be if students consciously used their influence through leadership principles like: knowing yourself and using your strengths to the fullest, developing an inspiring vision and communicating this vision, creating connections and empowering others, and making a positive difference everyday.

If you are looking for a message that focuses on “heart-based, “people-centered” leadership, Elaine Penn will be perfect for your next event. In a world where text messages have replaced face-to-face conversations, and leadership has been boiled down to successful habits, Elaine will hearten your student leaders with a message that speaks to the core values of leadership. 

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn to:

  • Know who they are and understand how that makes a difference as a leader.
  • Accelerate the connection process with others, and understand how to engage with and inspire their peers.
  • Know what it means to lead with vision and values, ultimately committing to service and making a difference.
  • Use purposeful communication to create a more a powerful presence and deeper connection with others.
  • Become more conscious of the words they use and the impact they create.


One Student, Many Stories

How many times have we walked past someone on the street, only to quickly form an assumption about them? Our assumptions could come from the way they are dressed, how they speak, what country they are from, whose hand they are holding, if they have a disability, if they are experiencing homelessness, or what religious book they are reading. The truth is, when we buy into an assumption or a single story about anyone, we foster stereotypes and fear.

Join Elaine as she interweaves stories from her life and the lives of others to examine the complexities that define the human experience, and how judgments based on any perceived difference diminishes a person’s dignity and builds walls that divide us. We are ALL made of many stories that have shaped who we are. The more we connect with each other, the more we discover that we have much more in common than we ever thought possible.

This program is a perfect keynote for new students or any group placing value on building meaningful relationships on their campus community.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn to:

  • Understand how buying into a “single story” about any individual or group of people creates stereotypes and fear.
  • Develop an appreciation and sensitivity to diversity of all kinds.
  • Understand the importance of connecting with each other, sharing our many stories and finding our common humanity.


Finding Common Ground and Embracing Differences: Why Diversity Training Is Still Necessary

When it comes to diversity, do you feel comfortable challenging others about their assumptions and actions? Why is it so difficult to speak up and address these issues directly? We need an open and honest place to start. By speaking openly about similarities and differences between people, we can help students find connections between larger social issues and their own life experiences.

In this interactive keynote, Elaine challenges students to build intentionally inclusive campus communities by being aware of the diversity issues that exist on campus and in the world, treating others with respect, and moving beyond differences like race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and socioeconomic status to achieve real inclusion. Sharing timeless lessons, music, and stories about courageous students who have faced acts of intolerance as well as those working to end the heartbreaking cycle of prejudice, Elaine challenges students to go beyond awareness to begin taking action.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn to:

  • Understand and identify the diversity issues that exist on campus and in society.
  • Know how to challenge prejudice and make positive change in their community.
  • Feel empowered to have meaningful conversations around diversity to build an inclusive campus culture.


Happiness: The New Definition of Success

College students spend a significant amount of their time talking about success. Their perception of success hinges on grades, campus involvement, and graduation. But there is a parallel definition of success, happiness, and wellness which should be learned sooner than later. How do we help students find happiness in a world that contains a 24-hour news cycle broadcasting how bad things are, job statistics that are frightening, and personal relationships are highly digitized? 

Stress has become a top health issue on campus. Elaine has spent her adult life dedicated to wellness and has become an avid proponent of positive psychology.  Cutting-edge research shows that when the brain is in a positive state, creativity, energy, performance, and intelligence increase by 31 percent, while stress decreases. In this experiential program, Elaine provides strategies to retrain your brain and heart to be more positive, and as a result healthier, happier and more successful. Students will discover how a few simple habits such as gratitude, focusing on what is going well, random acts of kindness, meditation, and exercise can make a profound and dramatic difference in their lives.

This program can be customized for student athletes to help increase performance and success.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • The importance of positivity on performance, energy, creativity, teamwork, and success.
  • How positivity techniques and sound therapy reduce stress and enhance well-being.
  • That when the brain is in a positive state, creativity, energy, performance and intelligence increases while stress decreases.
  • Techniques that shift the brain in a short amount of time to be a positive state.

The above program is 60 minutes in length. For an additional 30 minutes, an optional sound therapy component can be added.

For the sound therapy session, Elaine is joined by nationally acclaimed sound healer, Nancy Pitkin. Sound has been used for thousands of years in powerful healing techniques. Nancy teaches how simple sound exercises you can do today can make a profound difference in your life, helping to increase relaxation and balance, and reduce stress and anxiety. Using ancient sound healing instruments like the Tibetan bowl, Native American Flute, drum, Pan flute, bells, and chimes, combined with original piano compositions, Nancy takes you through a sound meditation that balances and relaxes your body, mind, and spirit.

Customized Student Leadership Retreats

Campus professionals are extremely busy! They wear many hats and juggle many balls. It often helps for an outside facilitator to organize student leadership retreats.

Elaine is a great choice to help you host a powerful and impactful retreat to create real change in your organization! Prior to a retreat, Elaine facilitates an intake with you, which involves asking questions and discovering the outcomes you want and need. In other words, what would you want the participants to experience, learn, feel, do, and take away from the retreat?

Using that information, she creates a customized retreat for your group. Typically, the focus is on one of the following topics: Leadership, Communication, Team-building, Diversity, Visioning and Action. Elaine’s retreats are perfect for rejuvenating and reconnecting your students and staff. The retreats are from a half day to three days in length.

Staff Programs

Elaine has extensive experience in creating workshops and retreats for professional staff on: strategic visioning, communication, leadership/engagement, positivity in the workplace, work/life balance and internal relations. She leads group coaching sessions to help clarify goals, overcome obstacles, and take clear action.

Elaine's Bio

Elaine Penn, M.Ed. is a motivational speaker, executive coach, workplace consultant and singer-songwriter who inspires people to reach their highest potential. She works with universities, businesses, government agencies, and individuals around the world. Prior to coaching, Elaine worked in higher education as a Division I Volleyball Coach, Director of Campus Recreation, and Executive Producer of five award winning educational documentaries. In her keynotes, Elaine uses stories, discussion, music and audience interaction to help students dream of what is possible and unleash their best selves.

Elaine received her bachelor’s degree from Greensboro College and her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. While at Greensboro, she received numerous athletic honors, including All American in Basketball and All-Conference in Volleyball. In recognition of her achievements in basketball, her jersey was retired. She was inducted into the Greensboro College Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

Growing up in a musical family, Elaine has been singing professionally for most of her life. Her CD of original music is called: Love Is The Way.

Elaine has created and led interactive retreats for students and staff for more than 20 years.


Get More!

Our speakers provide value items to our customers every time they book a program at full price. These can be used as giveaways to students who attend the program, or as gifts to your hardworking student leaders.

With Elaine Penn choose from one of the following:

Restrictions apply for additional programming and speaker value items. Please call CAMPUSPEAK for more information.