Educator, social-emotional expert, child champion, change agent. These are just a few of the many titles used to describe Ember Conley. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ember currently works as the Host of Political Peeks, a Park City Television web show. There, she examines politics and policies that impact her viewers at both the local and state level. Previously, Ember served as a superintendent for seven years. She also has extensive experience as a former middle school math teacher, high school principal, elementary principal, assessment director, and deputy superintendent overseeing safety, federal programs, and secondary curriculum.
Ember Conley received her Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University, and went on to earn her elementary teaching certificate from Fort Lewis College. She has a Masters of Arts in K-12 Administration and Policy from University Colorado-Denver, and an Education Doctorate in curriculum and leadership from Argosy University – Phoenix.
One of her passions today is inspiring women in leadership roles. Earlier in her career, Ember took on the role of Principal, which at the time made her the youngest female Principal in the state of Colorado. With her new position came many responsibilities and challenges. While she had many opportunities to make a difference in her community and the lives of her students, the role also opened her eyes to the many obstacles female leaders have to overcome.
During that time, Ember Conley quickly realized that as a young, single woman she didn’t fit the mold of a typical leader. However, her determination, combined with her love of education and empowering children, helped her take action to create positive change. During her time in leadership, she realized that many female leaders don’t have mentors, and very few receive proper guidance. One of her goals is to change this: she wants to help women in leadership roles find their voices and stand up for each other.
Ember Conley has spent hours upon hours studying change theory and the stages of change. She believes that in order for effective change to occur, you need to go through a few steps. These stages are Norming, Storming, and Forming. Through them, people must identify the issue at hand, normalize it, determine the best approach, build a team, and then execute the strategy. Ember believes that these steps can help guide other women in leadership roles. Today she writes about female leadership both in the workplace and around the globe. You can learn more about Ember Conley and keep up with her thoughts by following her on social media or reading her writing!
Our Interview with Ember Conley
Question: What’s the most important thing we should know about you?
Ember Conley: I am a first generation college student and the only one in my extended family to reach the doctoral level. Being raised by a father who served in the Korean War and then returned home to start a family and build his business shaped the decisions I made and defined my work ethic.
Question: Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.
Ember Conley: Which one? I learned that failure is a form of grief and through it there are stages that one must go through to gain acceptance and understanding. I always think of the Old Testament Story of Daniel going through the fire. He wasn’t plucked out of the fire, but had to walk through it to get to the other side to safety. Failure has tremendous emotional impacts and being able to distinguish what mistakes you made to avoid future mistakes, you have to be in a place to have your emotions in check. Failure is extremely painful and can take months/ years to process.
Question: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Ember Conley: Raising my daughter to be a kind, loving, and compassionate young woman who contributes positively to the world.
Question: What did you waste the most time on when you were first starting your career?
Ember Conley: I don’t think I wasted any time because everything I accomplished or tried taught me how to get to the next level.
Question: Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.
Ember Conley: My purple felt pen. I make lists the old fashioned way using paper and my purple pen has a way of solving problems and creating processes to finish tasks.
Question: What is your favorite hobby and why?
Ember Conley: I recently engaged in an old hobby that I thought I would never do again – horseback riding. Our family purchased three horses this spring and they have brought so much joy to us and provide excellent form of exercise.
Question: What excites you the most about your industry right now?
Ember Conley: COVID has fully disrupted education in a way that is so exciting. It forced many educators to truly understand the global learning aspect and how to draw upon resources to tap into a child’s interest, rather than the rote memory, traditional school.
Question: What concerns you most about your industry right now?
Ember Conley: This generation will be completely different and leaders must embrace their creativity and possibly lack of structure with traditional school being closed all spring and summer
Question: What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Ember Conley: Abandoning my landscape business to go back to school to receive my teacher credential.
Question: Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.
Ember Conley: I find that if I take my 20 minute morning meditation, I am able to better cope with any challenges that my day may have. I love using my Bible App and doing devotions based on my current life needs.
Question: What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?
Ember Conley: In this gender sensitive climate, I hope that my comment doesn’t cause misunderstanding. My sister and I were raised as my dad’s sons. He raised us as equals to him and taught us how to maneuver a male dominated industry. He never excluded us from important meetings and we learned how to take care of the people that kept the business afloat. That said, you need to find role models that will be inclusive and teach you the ropes. Then, USE what you learn. Have a voice, be a teamplayer, and always admit when you make a mistake.
Question: What book has made the biggest impact on your life?
Ember Conley: The Bible. I find hidden truths daily when I read it and it helps me as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and leader.
Question: Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?
Ember Conley: Good one! Depends on the situation. I do surround myself with people that have a lot of common sense and have tried to teach my own children basics of common sense. One of the most important skills is to always be observant of your surroundings. Pay attention to people’s voices and body language. Use your gut instinct, especially if you feel in danger or uneasy in a situation.
Question: What would you consider to be the perfect day?
Ember Conley: I have them daily. I get to be with my family, love on my horses and doggies, and read. I am addicted to the Longmire Series written by Craig Johnson. They really hit my sense of humor and remind me greatly of where I was raised and the type of people that were in my life. The voice on audible brings the entire stories to life which is a bonus, too.