Influencer Academy launches leadership program

Las Vegas is dialing up its girl power as Influencer Academy is set to debut this month.

Founded by Alexia Vernon, the nine-month leadership program is devoted to teaching women how to speak with confidence and competence while keeping their own style.

“It’s an opportunity for women leaders who are already doing fantastic work to expand on their skill set and dial up their impact in their companies,” Vernon said.

Twenty women are scheduled to attend the academy’s 10-session program at the InNEVation Center, 6795 Edmond St., beginning Oct. 11-12.

Although participants are accepted by application only, Vernon said women from all over the country can apply as long as they commit to attend each session.

According to Vernon, the academy generally accepts applications from women who have already achieved a level of success and want to make a bigger impact in their careers.

“Each (applicant) has to thrive in an interactive environment since the sessions will be driven by their own individual voices,” she said. “They have to be willing to put in the extra elbow grease to recognize and achieve their goals.”

The program is set to host one session a month for six hours and focus on specific skills.

Through June, participants will learn how to: identify obstacles as opportunities; use interpersonal communication skills; present information dynamically; share expertise; coach others; communicate through difficult times; facilitate groups; persuade others; and negotiate.

“The majority of each session is interactive role-play,” Vernon said. “The women are up on their feet trying out different strategies and techniques.”

The sessions are also set to feature group discussions and guest speakers, such as Ronna Timpa of Workplace ESL Solutions and Jacqueline Jensen of

“It’s not just a place where you sit down and listen to boring lectures all day,” Vernon said. “We want the women to easily transfer what they’re learning in each session to their individual workplace.”

Participants will be required to complete “success work,” including outside readings and small individual or group activities, before each session.

“Participants will also be partnered with a mentor whom will help them design an individual career development plan,” Vernon said.

Influencer Academy has a board of seven advisers, including Debbie Kent, director of human resources and organizational development for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; Kristin McMillan, president of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce; and Renee West, president and chief operating officer of the Luxor and the Excalibur.

“They’ve all been instrumental in partnering with me and creating the curriculum,” Vernon said.

Joanne Blystone, former president of Blystone Equipment Company, is also an adviser and spoke at the academy’s kickoff event Sept. 10 to more than 100 aspiring leaders.

“I’ve worked with men most of my life, so I touched on some of the obstacles women can overcome in those types of industries,” she said. “It was so nice to see great young women climbing up the ladder. They’re all doing what we were doing 20 or 30 years ago.”

According to Blystone, the key to success is presenting yourself well and learning all you can.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most people are flattered if you ask questions,” she said. “Look the part, act the part and speak well. Those things will always serve you well.”

Vernon is a women’s studies graduate of UNLV and New York University. She’s a former professor and also runs Step Into Your Moxie, a women’s empowerment platform that teaches presentation skills, negotiation strategies and interpersonal communication.

“The unique needs and desires for emerging leaders don’t get met in traditional programs,” Vernon said. “So I wanted to create an opportunity for women to get more hands-on development.”

Vernon is set to co-host TEDxFremontEastWomen, a nonprofit conference devoted to spreading ideas among women. The conference is scheduled for Dec. 5. The time and location are to be announced. For more information, visit

“It’s to shine a spotlight on local women and their stories,” Vernon said.

Applications for next year at Influencer Academy will be accepted in the spring. Tuition is about $2,500. Monthly payments are available. For more information on the academy, visit

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at 702-383-0403 or

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