Serita Acker: Keynote Speaker at the National Convening on the State of Mental Health in STEM

May 29, 2024

By:  Beth Anne Johnson

Serita Acker, the esteemed Executive Director of PEER WISE, recently took the stage as the keynote speaker at the National Convening on the State of Mental Health in STEM. This significant event brought together professionals and thought leaders from across disciplines to discuss the intersection of STEM and mental health. Acker’s keynote address highlighted the critical need for rest in our work and the importance of listening and empowering our leaders.

In her speech, Serita emphasized, “It is essential we rest in our work and that we listen and empower our leaders.” She underscored that true leadership involves not just guiding but also actively supporting and believing in one’s team. Acker elaborated on several key practices that embody this approach:

  • Open Door Policies: Creating an environment where team members feel comfortable approaching their leaders with ideas, concerns, and feedback.
  • Sabbatical Support: Encouraging and providing opportunities for leaders to take sabbaticals, ensuring they have the time to rest, rejuvenate, and return with renewed vigor.
  • Solution-Driven Conversations: Focusing on constructive and proactive dialogues that lead to effective problem-solving and innovation. 
  • Believing Your Team Members: Trusting and valuing the insights and contributions of team members, which fosters a culture of mutual respect and collaboration.

Serita’s involvement in the conference was a testament to the strong relationships she builds and the mentorship she provides within the PEER WISE community. Among those she mentors is Beth Anne Johnson, the PEER WISE Communication Coordinator. Beth Anne shared her gratitude and admiration for Serita, stating, “It is a privilege to be mentored and sponsored by Serita Acker. Her leadership is characterized by genuine care and the ability to inspire action in others. Presenting alongside her was an honor and a testament to her impactful guidance.”

The opportunity for Serita to speak at the conference arose from the impactful connections she has nurtured over the years. Her dedication to mentoring and her genuine investment in the growth of others have not only strengthened the PEER WISE community but also extended her influence to broader audiences.

Serita Acker’s keynote at the STEM in Mental Health Conference served as a powerful reminder of the importance of rest, active listening, and empowerment in leadership. Her commitment to these principles continues to inspire and shape the leaders of tomorrow, fostering a culture of care, support, and innovation.

As we reflect on her words and actions, it becomes clear that the success and well-being of any organization are deeply rooted in how we treat and support one another. Serita Acker’s leadership exemplifies this truth, and her impact resonates far beyond the walls of PEER