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Women's Leadership Council newsletter

Future Events

125 Years of Women at Brown Conference
May 5–6
Providence, RI
Brown and the WLC invite you to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments, contributions, and history of women at Brown. Join the event Facebook page and visit the website for up–to–date information on keynote speakers, panelists, and other exciting developments!

By taking the pledge, you are committing to be a part of the 125 Years of Women at Brown Conference on May 5–6, 2017. Your participation in promoting and/or attending the Conference is vital to the success of this celebration. Take the pledge today to be part of a historical milestone for the University and for all women in the Brown Community!


Big Food, Small Food: How Entrepreneurs Are Changing the World’s Oldest Industry
Tuesday, January 10
Wellesley, MA
WLC members Marcia Walley Blenko ’83 and Pamela Farrell Lenehan ’74 AM’74, P’03, P’06 will host local Boston alumnae for a special presentation led by angel investor to food start–ups Marcia J. Hooper ’77, P’09, P’11.

Brown Women in Government
Tuesday, January 31
Washington, DC
Hosted by WLC members Swathi Bojedla ’07, Shelley Fidler ’68, P’09 and Aleta Margolis ’89, P’20 with friends of the WLC Parinaz Ziai Bahadori ’86 and Gabriela Dunn ’06. The Women’s Leadership Council’s Washington, DC network will host DC–area alumnae for a panel of women in government. Panelists include Council member of the District of Columbia Elissa Silverman ’95 with Partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP and former Associate White House Counsel Karen Dunn ’97.

Past Events

125 Years of Women at Brown Pre-Conference Event
November 4, 2016
New York, NY
Michele Berdinis ’81 hosted a small group of alumnae friends at her home to discuss their Brown experience, how Brown impacted their lives, and their plans to return to campus for the 125 Years of Women at Brown Conference in May. Thank you, Michele, for volunteering to host a pre-conference event!

If you are interested in hosting a pre–conference event and would like to learn more, please email

Brown Architecture: Brown on the Boards
October 13, 2016
New York, NY
WLC member Adina Young ’82, P’20 hosted 30 alumnae for a presentation by University Architect Collette Creppell. Creppell described changes on campus and what is to come. 125 Years of Women at Brown Conference Co–Chair Marcia Dunn, M.D. ’82 also spoke briefly about the upcoming Conference.

Women in Politics and the 2016 Presidential Election
October 13, 2016
San Francisco, CA
WLC members Holly Hagens ’93, Adrienne Morphy Ladd ’79, and Mandy Tachiki ’95, in addition to WLC friend Maryam Mohit ’89, hosted 25 Bay–area alumnae for a conversation about women in politics with author, historian, and leading national expert on women and American politics Dr. Nancy L. Cohen ’85.

Council News

This fall, President Christina H. Paxson invited 12 new members to serve on the Women’s Leadership Council. The Council is pleased to welcome:

  • Susan E. Aledort ’85, P’19 (San Marino, CA)
  • Jackie B. Bechek ’80, P’10, P’14 (Greer, SC)
  • Swathi Bojedla ’07 (Washington, DC)
  • Anne C. Buehl ’88 (Darien, CT)
  • Karen F. Conway ’84, P’16 (London, England)
  • Andra Bowman Ehrenkranz ’87 (New York, NY)
  • Debbie L. Goodstein ’84 (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Christine K. Lyng–Olsen ’90 (Westport, CT)
  • Stephanie A. Morimoto ’99 (Chicago, IL)
  • Bharti Subramanian, Ph.D. SCM’93, PHD’96 (Dallas, TX)
  • Robin W. Wachtler ’87, P’13 (Upper Brookville, NY)
  • Caitie Whelan ’07 (Brooklyn, NY)

Brown Women in the News

Broadway regular and character actress, Alice Drummond ’50, passed away at 88.

The first woman to run a NASA spacecraft mission, Maria T. Zuber Ph.D. SCM’83 PHD’86 SCH’08 hon., P’11, has spent her career enabling discoveries beyond Earth and says the best is yet to come.

Pulitzer prize–winning playwright Lynn Nottage ’86 DFA’11 hon., P’20 and the cast of her latest play, Sweat, are headed for Broadway.

Tatiana von Furstenberg ’91 curated an art show containing works by L.G.B.T. prisoners.

Tracee Ellis Ross ’94 DFA’15 hon. is redefining what a working woman really looks like on Black–ish. She has been honored on Ebony’s “Power 100” list.

Alison Gaines Pell ’96 has been named the head of The Wheeler School in Providence.

Founder of Liberation Cuisine Gabriela Álvarez ’11 has developed a company that “nourishes movements of change and collective transformation.”

Teacher, mentor, poet, and acclaimed singer Jamila Woods ’11 serves as the artistic director at Young Chicago Authors.

Tessa Gobbo ’13 brought home an Olympic gold medal for women’s crew at the Rio games.

Founder of ((305)) Fitness Sadie Kurzban ’12 has expanded her business from her dorm room at Brown to three cities.

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WLC Welcomes New Co-Chair Sandee Ting Simshauser ’84, P’18, P’20, P’21

Sandee Ting Simshauser

The Women’s Leadership Council welcomed Sandee Ting Simshauser ’84, P’18, P’20, P’21 as WLC Co–Chair on July 1, 2016. Sandee has been on the WLC for five years and previously served as the WLC Membership Committee Co–Chair, as well as Co–President of the Board of the Brown Club of Boston. Sandee says Brown has impacted her life in so many ways that it remains a priority for her to be involved as much as she can as an alumna. As Co–Chair of the Council, Sandee hopes to maintain and build upon the momentum of the Council’s presence on campus and the many initiatives it has successfully completed. Looking ahead, Sandee sees the opportunity for the Council to extend its national reach through mentoring, alumnae–focused events, and promoting the importance of philanthropy. If there is one thing Sandee has learned from being a Brown student and now an alumna, it is that we are encouraged to lead and create positive change, and have the confidence to forge our own path.

Julia Wu ’17 Leads Lean In at Brown

Julia Wu

Lean In Circles, inspired by the movement originally coined by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, are small groups who meet regularly to learn and grow together. Women in particular are supporting each other through this initiative, and are learning how to ask for more in their workplace. In Winter 2013, Julia Wu ’17, a current senior from Sao Paulo, Brazil, founded Brown’s Lean In chapter. Lean In at Brown strives to cultivate a strong and diverse network of support for young women, empowering them to pursue their goals with confidence and ambition. Lean In addresses the current challenges women face through inspiration, education, and communication. Wu, who focuses in Computer Science and Economics, is the President of Brown Women in Business.


The “Perfect” Mentor–Mentee Relationship

Elizabeth WeberWomen’s Launch Pad (WLP) mentor Elizabeth Weber ’14 concentrated in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations (BEO) and Visual Arts during her time at Brown. She is a lead web designer at Stella & Dot, where she works on web and mobile design, user testing, and brand strategy for the global fashion brand.

Faviola ZunigaMentee Faviola Zuniga ’17 is currently concentrating in BEO and Hispanic Studies. A First–Gen and active student on campus, Faviola is secretary of the Latin American Student Association and a member of the Gates Millennium Scholars, among other associations. With graduation quickly approaching, Faviola joined the WLP to connect with an alumna who could guide her on her life after Brown with a BEO career path and help her explore potential career trajectories.

Elizabeth and Faviola have what has been titled the “perfect” mentor–mentee relationship. After beginning their mentoring relationship in September, Elizabeth and Faviola have fallen into an effortless cycle of communication, trust, and guidance.

Class of 2017 Mentees Gather for the Women’s Launch Pad Training and Reception

Dr. Sayantani DasGupta62 alumnae mentors and 112 student mentees gathered on October 20, 2016 for the official kick–off celebration dinner of the 2017 Women’s Launch Pad (WLP) program. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the WLP, which has grown from 33 pairs since its inception to 184 pairs in its 10th year. The program started with a mentor and mentee networking and training session titled “Creating Community: A Mindful Networking Session” with Executive/Leadership Coach Carolyn Ou ’89 and WLP Program Coach and Consultant Amy Ames. The Women’s Leadership Council then joined WLP participants for dinner with President Paxson and keynote speaker Dr. Sayantani DasGupta ’92. Dr. DasGupta is a physician and author who is changing the way doctors communicate illness to patients and families.

Join the Women’s Launch Pad on LinkedIn for mentor-focused articles and opportunities.


Women, Empowered. Receives $10,000 Grant

Women, Empowered., is a multi–disciplinary initiative group focusing on political activism. Its founders, Lucrezia Sanes ’17 and Shavon Bell ’17, with the help of Brown faculty advisors, received a $10,000 collaboration grant from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. With the grant, the group hopes to elevate the voices of women in the social sciences.

Brown Senior Named Schwarzman Scholar

Paula Martinez Gutierrez Brown senior Paula Martinez Gutierrez has earned honors as a 2017 Schwarzman Scholar. Schwarzman Scholars is a new program modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship that provides full funding for students to pursue a one–year master’s degree at one of China’s most prestigious universities, Tsinghua University. Paula grew up in Mexico and is currently a double concentrator in International Relations and History. While at Brown, she has studied Chinese and East Asian Studies both in Beijing and London. Her thesis investigates violence as it relates to militarized campaigns against drug trafficking in Mexico and China. Paula hopes to promote sensible drug policies as a result of her graduate studies.

Back on Campus

Meet Tennis Star Dayna Lord ’17

Dayna Lord

Dayna Lord ’17 is Brown’s number one varsity women’s tennis player and a gifted student. The daughter of Jamaican–born parents, Dayna was introduced to competitive tennis at an early age. Dayna’s mother passed away in 2010, and in addition to tennis and academics, Dayna had to provide significant support to her younger siblings. Dayna earned a financial aid scholarship to attend high school at Kingswood Oxford School, where she also won a national tennis championship. She inherited a strong work ethic from her hardworking father, and always kept in mind her mother who was her “foundation for everything.” With academics always a priority, Dayna made her way to Providence for the opportunity of a once–in–a–lifetime Brown education. WLC Executive Committee Member Alexandra E. Mandis ’95 had the honor of interviewing Dayna and learning more about her story.

Van Wickle Gates

WLC Mission Statement

The Women’s Leadership Council consists of a group of Brown women appointed by the President of the University who, through their leadership, philanthropy, and volunteerism, work toward enhancing Brown by inspiring and engaging the alumnae community as active participants in the life of the University. The Council accomplishes this by demonstrating and encouraging a commitment to philanthropic and volunteer leadership at Brown; providing opportunities to connect Brown alumnae with students as mentors, role models, and advisors; and organizing events, activities, and initiatives that engage Brown alumnae with each other and with the intellectual excitement of the Brown community.