WE Lead!

It was an absolute honor to collaborate and present “Your Best Self” at the WE Lead Malibu conference in January! I was inspired by the ambitious women that attended as well as the creators of WE Lead! ~Dr. Denise

WE Lead

written by Lisa Jane Vargas and Christi Cessna

Yes, we do!  WE Lead is a leadership forum that offers a fresh perspective for growth and elevation for ambitious leaders in the healthcare field.


For the last 15 years, co-founders, Lisa Jane Vargas and Christi Cessna, have worked together in multiple roles in behavioral and mental health.  They experienced mergers, acquisitions, sales, marketing, and leadership roles and the many changes our field has lived through.  All the while, ruminating on the seed of curiosity to what it would be like to help develop leaders in ways that will support their ambitions and dreams in an authentic and ethical way.


In the summer of 2019, the concept and development of We Lead was created.  LJ and Christi decided to host the first workshop in Scottsdale, AZ in July!  Yes, hot July for a two-day experience.  The focus was on ambitious women.


“I had noticed that while most behavioral health conferences were comprised of women, we were still under represented in leadership positions in many organizations.  So, after much discussion, it seemed very natural to focus our workshop initially on women”, says Cessna.


Women from all over the country came for the inaugural workshop and left refreshed, renewed and questioning where they are now and ways they could stretch professionally and personally.


This brand of women’s leadership development was created to focus on giving women the opportunity for personal discovery to heighten her self-awareness through:

  1. tools to understand her behavior and communication style
  2. concepts, tools and planning to manage her brand
  3. holistic strategies to optimize her physical health
  4. discovery of her beliefs and values with money and how to honor her value


This workshop is about a collective in collaboration, helping one another, hence the “we” in WE Lead was an essential meaningful component of its creation.


In addition, each presenter is selected because of their wealth of experience.  The venue is selected to be a comfortable, relaxed environment to allow the safety and honesty to flow in each session.  All while empowering participants to connect, talk, share, feel and express what they need to in order to flourish.  Incorporating a mindfulness yoga practice and encouraging participants to dress comfortably, yoga attire is welcomed!


“The space we choose means a lot to us so that we can give ourselves permission to be who we are today and feel comfortable in this time of illumination”, says Vargas.


The second WE Lead workshop was held in Malibu at the Calamigos Ranch which offered an incredibly beautiful backdrop providing a calm, natural element for all of the senses.

Among the sponsors were J. Flowers Health Institute, Integrative Life Center, Assured Strategy, Milestones Ranch Malibu, Discovery Behavioral Health, Origins Behavioral Healthcare, Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, Avalon Malibu,Viewpoint Dual Recovery, and The Bridge to Recovery.


“It’s such an honor to collaborate with these esteemed programs to help so many leaders”, says Vargas.


The incredible women delivering the messages in their presentations elevated this event to bring value and thought leadership for each women’s contemplation.  It was an honor to have Denise McDermott, MD, Debra Kaplan, MA, LPC, LISAC, CMAT, CSAT-S, and Keyne Petkovic, MS co-present with us.


Some of the highlights we experienced include an exercise like the trauma egg but around our relationship to money and how that may relate to our personal and professional behavior today with finances and our perceived worth related to it.  We dove in to creating our personal mission statement and how that shed like on to how we brand ourselves in our various roles in life. The DISC assessment tool was completed prior to arriving for the workshop. The results were discussed in our table talk where we shared ways to communicate better with our teams and others.   We ended our time together with a bang in conversation with Dr. Denise exploring the expansive opportunities we have to serve and still take care of ourselves with a holistic approach.


There were many special and memorable moments in between and nuggets of take-aways for each participant to plant and implement into their professional and personal lives.


For more information about the WE Lead workshops, please email weleadevents@gmail.com.