Brand State U Presents:

2024 Women's Summit at Sea


A personal branding and professional development getaway  hosted by women, for women.  

It’s no secret that hard work alone isn't enough for women to advance in their careers. You must have a personal brand and market it, even if it's uncomfortable.

Throw perfection overboard - it’s all about being authentic. The sooner you begin embracing your worth, the sooner you will level up your personal and professional self. Learn the practical skills you need to be authentic, courageous, strategic and successful - all while getting a great tan.

Ready to sail to success?


Join us September 2nd - 7th 2024 for the Brand U Women’s Summit @ Sea to build community, connection, and confidence with a group of like-minded women.

Develop a mindset for success while learning how to build your brand. 

Join Melissa Bowen and Jaci Russo on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas for the ultimate women’s conference cruise. Surrounded by sun, sea, and successful women, you’ll have the time, space, and support to clear your mind and focus on YOU.

Jaci Russo

Melissa Bowen

Dr. Mechelle Roberthon

Keesha Buteau

Summit Sessions


Pre-Sailing Sessions

These sessions will be presented online before the Summit begins. These live presentations will be recorded and provided to registrants who aren’t able to attend live. 

Jaci Russo 

Melissa Bowen

Introductions, Cruising, & Expectations, Oh My!

Opportunity to get to know each other and get answers to all of your questions about the Summit, the cruise ship, and the details of our week together.

You'll learn:
  • What to pack for the trip 
  • How to schedule your excursions 
  • Discuss the cruise app, onboard wifi, and other details about the ship 
  • How to get the most out of the Summit 

Jaci Russo 

Brand You: Unleashing the Power of Personal Branding

Understand and harness the power of your unique identity. By delving into the art and strategy of personal branding, you will gain insights and actionable tips to enhance your professional presence and leave a lasting impression in today's competitive landscape.

You'll Learn: 
  • How to translate personal attributes into a compelling brand narrative that resonates with your target audience 
  • Strategies to optimize your online presence 
  • Succinctly communicate your value proposition 
  • How to showcase your true self while aligning with your professional goals 

Melissa Bowen

Setting Goals and the Systems to Get You There

“Dream big. Execute small.” Learn how to set your intentions so your goals are authentic and satisfying to you. Then learn how to identify your systems and actions that allow you to achieve those goals.

You'll Learn: 
  • The practice of reflection to identify your targets 
  • How important your “why” is to the goal 
  • How to set your system to repeat to success 
  • A few mindset hacks to keep you on track 

SHip Sessions

Dr. Mechelle Roberthon

Messages at Sea: Conquering The Communication Breakdown Model

Participants will take an immersive voyage to learn the 3 factors impacting how communication is perceived by those we engage with.

You'll Learn: 
  • Two universal truths to consider for interpersonal communication  
  • Professor Albert Mehrabian’s communication model 
  • How words, tone, and body language impact the way your message is perceived by others 

Jaci Russo 

Crafting Clicks: The A-Z Guide to Social Media Content

From eye-catching visuals to compelling captions, we'll explore the essentials of crafting content that not only stops the scroll but also leaves a lasting impact. Get ready to elevate your social media game and build a strong online presence that resonates with your audience. 

You'll Learn: 
  • Discover how to create images and videos that tell a compelling narrative 
  • Key elements of a successful strategy, including goal-setting, audience targeting, and platform optimization 
  • The algorithms, timing strategies, and interactive elements that can turn passive scrollers into active participants 
  • Essential tools for content creation and emerging technologies shaping the future of digital storytelling 

Keesha Buteau

Difficult Conversations

Communication skills are the most widely cited skill sets in job descriptions today regardless of the industry. Having to face difficult conversations in the workplace can leave many people feeling anxious and fearful. This session aims to make difficult conversations not so difficult! Participants will be provided realistic action steps and tools to utilize prior to, during, and after these conversations occur.

You'll Learn: 
  • The value relationship building and management brings to communication
  • How to apply the principles of Cy Wakeman’s Reality-Based Leadership Model
  • To transform difficult conversations into growth opportunities
  • Strategies for progressing conversations forward and strengthening relationships 

Melissa Bowen

The Magic in Making Authentic Connections

Anytime something is connected to another, the energy of those things magnify. The frequency and potency of the individual things or people levels up. Think of a plug in a socket, or shaking someone’s hand. Connections make the magic happen, when you’re connected to yourself, others, and life.  

You'll Learn: 
  • The impact and importance of connections 
  • How vulnerability allows for more satisfying authentic connections 
  • How shame keeps us vulnerability 
  • Ways to build shame resilience so you can show up  

Dr. Mechelle Roberthon

Setting Sail: Navigating Networking

Participants will learn hidden secrets about what it really means to network with others and how to harness networking opportunities effectively.

You'll Learn: 
  • Techniques to initiate, nurture, and maintain valuable professional connections 
  • Strategies to overcome shyness, discomfort, or common networking obstacles 
  • Effective follow-up methods to solidify connections and cultivate relationships 

Jaci Russo 

Harnessing the Power of AI: Your Secret Weapon at Work

Artificial Intelligence (AI) won’t replace people, but people who know how to use AI will replace those who don’t. This AI revolution will be like going from a typewriter to the internet. Learn how you can use AI as your secret weapon at work to streamline workflows, unlock insights, and improve efficiencies.

You'll Learn: 
  • Understanding AI's Impact     
  • Unlocking Efficiency
  • Discover techniques for harnessing AI-driven insights to drive strategic initiatives
  • Learn strategies for staying agile in a rapidly evolving digital landscape

Keesha Buteau

Titles Don't Determine Worth

Within our personal and professional lives, we are bombarded with labels and titles that are often used as a means to assign value and worth to products and people. Given this societal norm, individuals may begin to equate their personal worth with the title(s) that society or the workplace has assigned to them. This presentation empowers participants to see past their titles and recognize their true worth! 

You'll Learn: 
  • The Unconscious Effects of Labels and Titles 
  • The Role of Titles in the Workplace 
  • Identifying Personal Purpose & Value 

Melissa Bowen

The F-It Model: A Model and Mindset to Productivity

Get your mind out of the gutter! “F” stands for freedom, function, flow and a bunch of other words that represent a huge increase in your progress and productivity. 

You'll Learn: 
  • How shame leads to perfectionism 
  • How perfectionism leads to stunted growth and decreased productivity  
  • A repeatable mindset (based in psychological research) that will keep your momentum Forward!  

Jaci Russo 

Differentiate to Dominate

Humans are a herd species and we blend in for security and safety.  It is really hard to leave that comfort zone and be willing to stand out and get noticed.  By leaning into your unique areas of expertise, you can build a brand that attracts consumers instead of one that chases them. 

You'll Learn: 
  • Apply the laws of attraction
  • Develop thought leadership
  • Set goals for success 

Melissa Bowen

Your Inner Fraud:
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Feeling like you will be found out as a “fraud” or “hack” or “they’ll realize I don’t know what I’m doing” are some of the thoughts that keep us from showing up and growing up in our lives, especially professionally. Don’t let that imposter keep you from growing into the true you!

You'll Learn: 
  • The history and symptoms of Imposter Syndrome 
  • How to identify the contributing factors to IS 
  • How to break the cycle 
  • 8 things you can try right now to lean into the true you 

Jaci Russo 

Melissa Bowen

Wrap Up

Recap the week we’ve spent together and discuss the pros and cons of the Summit with specific feedback on how to improve for next year.


How Does It Work?


Your $100 non-refundable, per person, deposit will secure your spot on the sailing.  Depending on which stateroom you wish to purchase, we’ll invoice you for the summit & stateroom balance with full payment due by May 31, 2024. It’s that easy!  Brand U Women's Summit @ Sea is unique with the rooms, meals, and summit costs all included.

Pick your cabin, invite a pal, and let’s set sail together.

These prices are per person for double occupancy 

Grab your work wife, your BFF, or that nice neighbor lady down the street and head out to find yourself and your strength. 
No better time to relax, rejuvenate, and restore than in the middle of the ocean. After a week of Vitamin Sea, you will return refreshed and ready to make your world a better place.

Be the captain of your life.   


Your personal brand isn’t just what you think of you, it’s what others think of you. Why leave that up for interpretation? Learn to take ownership of your personal brand and tell the world who you are. Your life, your story, your brand.

Join us for the next Brand U Women’s Summit @ Sea to build  community, connection, and confidence with a group of like-minded women.  

Your Self, Your Voice, Your Strength.

Summit Schedule


DAY 1
Sept 2 - Depart Galveston at 4pm.

DAY 2
Sept 3 - Day at sea - Summit Sessions 8a-2p

DAY 3
Sept 4 - Summit Sessions 8a-11a Enjoy Costa Maya 12-7pm

DAY 4
Sept 5 - Cozumel 7a-5p

DAY 5
Sept 6 - Day at sea - Summit Session 8a - 2p

DAY 6
Sept 7 - Arrive Galveston 8am

Summit Guides:

Jaci Russo


Jaci Russo, P.C.M., is the co-founder and CEO of brandRUSSO. Jaci began her career at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Los Angeles, California, and then with media mogul Barry Diller, developing the brands of the Home Shopping Network, Ticketmaster, USA Network, and Savoy Pictures. Jaci is a published author and sought-after speaker on all things branding.    

Jaci founded Brand State U – an affordable online academy for small businesses and do-it-yourself marketers. She is a Professional Certified Marketer (P.C.M.) through the American Marketing Association, and a graduate of Leadership Louisiana and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. In addition, Jaci serves as a mentor for the American Academy of Entrepreneurs and a Brand Consultant through the Edward Lowe Foundation. In 2012, Jaci was inducted into the Acadiana Business Hall of Fame. Jaci is the proud mother of four and works full-time with her husband of 25 years, Michael.

For information on workshops, speaking, and online courses, visit her website at www.jacirusso.com


Melissa Bowen


Melissa Bowen is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Coach, and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator. Her work revolves around the belief that lives, relationships, and leadership can be transformed by developing a stronger sense of self and living a more authentic, vulnerable, connected, and courageous life.  

The Daring Way™ is an approach based on the shame-resilience research of Brené Brown. She has a counseling private practice in Lafayette, LA, where she also supervises counselor interns. Melissa has worked with GSK, KADN TV15, The United Way, Family Missions Company, brandRusso, and Chamber of Commerce organizations, among others. Melissa is a New Orleans native, and lives in Lafayette, LA with her husband, Kody, a few cats, and a bunch of ducks. Yes, ducks.

For information on workshops, speaking, and online courses, visit her website at www.DaringAcadiana.com

Dr. Mechelle Roberthon


Dr. Mechelle Roberthon’s background includes facilitating various workplace culture topics, adult learner engagement, learning management system administration, improving internal performance workflows, and establishing collaborative work relationships. She is also an experienced career and professional development instructor. You can often find Mechelle presenting at a conference, workshop, guest featuring on a podcast, teaching a college course, serving on a panel, or assisting companies from within their infrastructure.

Developing the people who are responsible for developing the business.

For information on her talent development services, visit her website at drmechellerob.com


Keesha Buteau


Keesha B. Buteau has amassed over twenty years of experience as a nonprofit executive, facilitator, and trainer. She has a passion for creativity and growth and believes it is her purpose to be not only a reliable source of encouragement but a beacon for those who need support in search of their own success. Keesha’s presentation style has been described as dynamic, relatable, and engaging as she speaks from the heart and her words are rooted in love. Highly valuing personal and professional development, she believes that good business management starts with people.

I help businesses and individuals define their vision for success and lead the way through personal and professional development. Let’s Find Your Way!

For information on her workshops that are open to the public, visit her website at www.beaconoflightla.com

Questions?
Reach out via email if you have any questions or concerns or schedule a call to chat directly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our focus is on branding and personal development. Each session will build on the last to guide you through the process of making the most of your unique attributes and how you can build a following in your life and online.

Our Summit Sessions during the first part of the day and the rest of the day is YOURS to sip on a drink by the pool, enjoy activities on the ship, head to the casino, or anything else that floats your boat.  

Our daily schedule looks something like this:  
Sept 2 Day 1 - Depart Galveston at 4pm.  
Sept 3 Day 2 - Day at sea - Summit Sessions 8a-2p  
Sept 4 Day 3 - Summit Sessions 8a-11a  Enjoy Costa Maya 12-7pm
Sept 5 Day 4 - Cozumel 7a-5p
Sept 6 Day 5 - Day at sea - Summit Session 8a - 2p  
Sept 7 Day 6 - Arrive Galveston 8am 

5 night Western Caribbean Cruise, roundtrip from Galveston, TX on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas! We chose this particular cruise because a mix of Sea Days and port days means we will have a few hours of teaching per day, leaving you enough time to implement what you’re learning and still have plenty of time to take advantage of all the fun activities on board.

Of course! Cruising is more fun with a friend or business bestie! The listed rates are per person with double occupancy.

Some people will want adult time away from their kids, some don’t even have kids, and others will want to bring their children & family with them.  We want you to make this experience the best it can be for you.  Royal Caribbean has a great kids program, and all of our training time will be held when the kids club is open. 

Lifelong learning is an important part of professional development. You will be able to bring these best practices back to your company to improve your company’s brand. Whether you are in a hotel in Houston or a ship in the Gulf, the important part is that you are developing great tools to be more successful.

*Download this flyer and present it to your company to show the professional development value that comes with this trip.

Sure thing! There will be lots of opportunities for networking and hanging out with all of your new friends. All of the prices listed are per person with two people per room. For solo travelers, the cost to cruise will be double for the cabin, but you will only purchase one summit session.

Women's Summit at Sea has applied for  11 hours of continuing education credits by the Louisiana LPC Board. This means that licensed professional counselors can knock out 11 of their required continuing education credits by attending the summit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Our focus is on branding and personal development. Each session will build on the last to guide you through the process of making the most of your unique attributes and how you can build a following in your life and online.

Our Summit Sessions are in the mornings and the rest of the day is YOURS to sip on a drink by the pool, enjoy activities on the ship, head to the casino, or anything else that floats your boat.  

Our daily schedule looks something like this:
Day 1 - Depart Galveston at 4pm Attend Welcome Reception
Day 2 - Day at sea - Summit Sessions 9am-1pm
Day 3 - Summit Sessions 9am-11am.  Enjoy Puerto Costa Maya 12pm-7pm
Day 4 - Enjoy Cozumel 7am-5pm
Day 5 - Day at sea - Summit Sessions 9am-1pm  
Day 6 - Arrive Galveston 8am

5 night Western Caribbean Cruise, roundtrip from Galveston, TX on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas! We chose this particular cruise because a mix of Sea Days and port days means we will have a couple of hours of teaching per day, leaving you enough time to implement what you’re learning and still have plenty of time to take advantage of all the fun activities on board.

Of course! Cruising is more fun with a friend or business bestie! The listed rates reflect individual prices and attendees are required to book in groups of two. All aboard!

Some people will want adult time away from their kids, some don’t even have kids, and others will want to bring their children & family with them. We want you to make this experience the best it can be for you. Royal Caribbean has a great kids program, and all of our training time will be held when the kids club is open.

Lifelong learning is an important part of professional development.  You will be able to bring these best practices back to your company to improve your company’s brand.  Whether you are in a hotel in Houston or a ship in the Gulf, the important part is that you are developing great tools to be more successful.  

*Download this flyer and present it to your company to show the professional development value that comes with this trip.

Sure thing! There will be lots of opportunities for networking and hanging out with all of your new friends. All of the prices listed are per person with two people per room. For solo travelers, the cost to cruise will be double for the cabin, but you will only purchase one summit session.

Women's Summit at Sea has been approved for 11 hours of continuing education credits by the Louisiana LPC Board! This means that licensed professional counselors can knock out 11 of their required continuing education credits by attending the summit. We are still seeking CEC Accreditation for the following industries: Human Resources, Certified Public Accountant, & Realtor.