Journey to Authenticity

August 7, 2023

“Authenticity happens when your words, actions, and behaviors align with your core values and personality – your source of energy that makes you who you are.”

Finding our authentic professional path can take many turns, and the task of embracing our authentic selves is ever unfolding. In our WomanUP workshop on being your authentic self, Leah Wong Ashburn (Highland Brewing Company), Sandar Leung (Manna FoodBank) and Molly Gaffney-Keebler (Spherion Staffing & Recruiting) shared the twists and turns of their on-going journeys to discovering their authentic selves through life, family and career.

Sources of Inspiration:

Simen Sinek
Why Authentic Leadership Is So Hard (
Ten Percent Happier
Caroline McHugh: Ted Talk 
Brene Brown
Monday Morning Leadership by David Cotrell
Never Not a Lovely Moon: The Art of Being Yourself by Caroline McHugh
Small Giants by Bo Burlingham
Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

About our speakers:

Leah Wong Ashburn is the second-generation family owner of Highland Brewing Company and serves as President and CEO. She has served on several boards including the Asheville Chamber, Buncombe County TDA, Riverlink and A-B Tech and currently serves on the UNC Board of Visitors and the NC Brewers Guild. She is also recipient of the 2019 WomanUP Woman Executive of the Year Award. 

Sandar Leung is Director of Operations at MANNA FoodBank. Prior to her role at MANNA, she served as Senior Manager of Fabrication Value Stream at Thermo Fisher Scientific where she was responsible for long-term capacity and technology strategy. She is also a Functional Board Member of the Asian Children’s Mission which advocates for the welfare and education of children in Myanmar. 

Molly Gaffney-Keebler is the Spherion Staffing & Recruiting Licensed Franchisee for WNC and Tri-Cities, TN and is president of the Spherion Franchise Advisory Board. In her tenure at Spherion, she has won multiple awards including Rookie of the Year in 2017 and Franchisee of the Year in 2020. Spherion Asheville has been the fastest growing market in Spherion history.