Sharing updates, celebrating successes

Spring 2019

Brown University Women’s Leadership Council Newsletter: Leaders, Mentors, Philanthropists

Women’s Leadership Council Spring Newsletter

New faces: Getting to know five new faculty and why they chose Brown

A collage of the five new faculty members: Lisa Biggs, Leila Lehnen, Ellie Pavlic, Patience Moyo, and Jennifer Navareno

Brown is known around the world as a center for academic excellence, cultivating future leaders who are prepared to solve complex problems, take intellectual risks, and pursue lives of purpose and fulfillment. Critical to Brown’s success is the impressive roster of professors who teach students while also pursuing groundbreaking research.

Among the 53 new faculty members hired for the 2018–2019 academic year are 22 outstanding female professors, including Lisa Biggs, Leila Lehnen, Ellie Pavlic, Patience Moyo, and Jennifer Navareno. The Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) wanted to learn more about their fascinating work — addressing far-ranging topics from the intersection of the arts and social justice to prescription drug use to teaching computers how to understand human language. Read about them in the full article on Brunonia.

Brown women in the news: Forces of good in the alumnae community and beyond

Hats off to these remarkable alumnae! The WLC salutes the following women for making recent headlines and creating positive changes in their respective industries.

A hug during the Volunteer Summit

The value of volunteerism

To say that she is committed to Brown would be an understatement. Jacqueline “Jackie” Bechek ’80, P’10, P’14 has been a Brown volunteer in many capacities, including the WLC, the Annual Fund, and the Alumni Interviewing Program. At the recent 2019 Volunteer Summit in New York City, Bechek accepted the H. Anthony Ittleson ’60 Award for outstanding volunteer service.
Learn more about this year’s alumni award winners.

A collage featuring Ayanna Howard '93, danah boyd '00, and Mary Lou Jepsen 87 PhD'97 ScD'14 hon.

Challenging norms and fueling the future of innovation

Named in Forbes Magazine’s recent “Top 50 Women in Tech” list, Ayanna Howard ’93, danah boyd ’00, and Mary Lou Jepsen ’87 PhD’97 ScD’14 hon. are challenging the status quo in the male-dominated world of tech. They’re working to address gender bias in tech products, state-of-the-art medical imaging technology, and “fight(ing) on behalf of those who are underrepresented.” Read more about their achievements.

Jackie Sibblies Drury MFA'10

Recognition X2 for esteemed playwright

Jackie Sibblies Drury MFA’10 received both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her critically acclaimed play, “Fairview.” A highly regarded international competition, the Blackburn Prize is awarded annually “to recognize women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre.”

Marcia Blenko '83

WLC member joins public radio board

Marcia Blenko ’83, a valued member of the WLC, was recently elected as a trustee of WGBH, the public broadcaster and largest producer of PBS content for television and the internet. Congrats, Marcia!

Brown Blasts: Women’s Voices Amplified with children’s author, scholar, and physician Sayantani T. DasGupta ’92

Dr. Sayantani T. DasGupta '92 with play video button

The WLC has the opportunity to interview inspiring alumnae in a range of fields for Brown Blasts: Women’s Voices Amplified. In the most recent episode of this volunteer-led podcast effort, Dr. Sayantani DasGupta ’92 discusses the critical role storytelling plays in the healthcare system, the value of a “prescription for reading,” and how her activist spirit was born on College Hill: “Brown and the Brown community enabled me to be brave enough to dream,” she says. Her book Game of Stars also just hit the New York Times bestseller list for middle-grade hardcovers. Listen to the full episode.

The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent those of the University.

Like what you hear? Want to hear more? Let us know! Take two minutes to fill out this quick survey about the Brown Blasts podcast series.

And the winner is...Ashley Bang ’19!

Ashley Bang '19

To honor the strength, tenacity, and determination of women on campus, every year ambitious female students are nominated for the annual Susan Pilch Friedman ’77, P’08 Excellence Award in Women’s Leadership. We’re pleased to announce that this year’s winner is Ashley Bang ’19.

She is a geology-biology concentrator focused on characterizing critical habitats in need of conservation. While at Brown, Ashley was vice president of the Hong Kong Students Association, captain of the Brown Polo Club, and a co-founder of the Geosciences Women+ (GeoW+) in the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences. After graduating, she will reside in Taiwan, where she will research marine biodiversity and conservation on a Fulbright scholarship.

Recent events and activities


Entrepreneurship and engagement at the WE@Brown Conference

The student-led Brown Entrepreneurship Program Women’s Entrepreneurship team hosted the third Annual Women’s Empowerment Conference (WE@Brown) on Saturday, March 9. More than 300 registrants enjoyed workshops, an industry panel, keynote remarks, and a pitch competition. Watch the recap video and learn more about the action-packed daylong event.

People smiling at a presentation at the Black Alumni Reunion

Documentary screening in NYC

On April 23, the Brown Women’s Network of New York (BWN) held a great event showcasing exclusive clips from The Fourth Estate by Liz Garbus ’92 and The Green Book: Guide to Freedom by Yoruba Richen ’94, followed by a moderated discussion on film and media with Lauren J. Zalaznick ’84, P’17, P’19. If you are interested in getting involved with or attending future BWN events in New York City, email

People smiling at a presentation at the Black Alumni Reunion

Bringing history and feminist theory into the light

The Pembroke Center has compiled an impressive digital repository of artifacts, sound clips, and literature that can be accessed in seconds. It is a diverse mix of stories and successes from women at Brown, Rhode Island, and the rest of the world. Learn more about the digital portal.

Learn more about the Women’s Leadership Council
and follow us on social media below: