New Year, New Focus: Women’s Leadership Program Kicks Off 2019 with Helen Rothberg and “How to Get Where You Are Going”
February 4, 2019—For more than a decade, Marist’s Women’s Mentoring Program has served as a community within a community, connecting experienced mentors with mentees at the beginning of their professional careers. What began in 2008 with six pairs of mentor/mentees eventually grew to more than 80 participating female administrators, building a culture of mentorship, enhancing Marist’s sense of community, and providing a diverse array of professional development opportunities. Mentees had the chance to work one-on-one with more experienced professionals, receiving guidance and encouragement. Mentors could share their hard-earned wisdom and take an active role in shaping the College’s new generation of leaders.
Run by a steering committee of administrators from across campus, the Women’s Mentoring Program arranged regular lectures and workshops on topics such as communication skills, public speaking, cultural competency, personal branding, managing stress, and more. Guest speakers included successful alumnae like Kelsey Donohue ’13, Aisha Kutter ’00 and Amanda Augustine ’04. Feedback gleaned from surveys documents the positive impact the Women’s Mentoring Program has had: “Thanks to everyone who has made this such a valuable and dynamic program!” “[My mentor] has been that positive force pushing me to do more and continue to grow and expand my horizons.” “I am in awe of [my mentee’s] many talents and professional commitment, and of her great dedication…she can surely be a future leader of Marist.” Years later, many of the group’s original mentor-mentee pairs continue to meet regularly, reinforcing the strong sense of community created.
In 2018, the steering committee determined that the culture of female mentorship was established enough that it could redirect its energies. Thus, the time committee members once spent facilitating mentoring match-ups has been reallocated to planning leadership development opportunities. Now known as the Women’s Leadership Program, the group is open to all female administrators at Marist. The steering committee is comprised of Rebecca Albitz, Director of the James A. Cannavino Library; Leslie Bates, Editor for College Advancement; Elizabeth Donohue, Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator; Eva Jackson, Director of Employee Relations; Erin McGuinness, Benefits Manager; Renee Springate-Lewis, Associate Director, Enrollment Technologies and Systems; Elisabeth Tavarez, Assistant Vice President for College Marketing and Communication; and Joey Wall, Director, Media & Instructional Technology. They are joined by local consultant Carol Heady, President of Learning and Performance Solutions.
On January 28, the Women’s Leadership Program kicked off its new phase with an interactive workshop for 60 women led by Professor of Strategy Helen Rothberg, author of The Perfect Mix: Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned as a Bartender and a frequent speaker at corporate events. Rothberg’s workshop was entitled “How To Get Where You Are Going,” and all attendees received a copy of The Perfect Mix for inspiration. Her central message? That you cannot lead yourself without a vision and that life should be more than simply putting one foot in front of another each day. But doing this takes time, honest reflection, and commitment.
Rothberg structured the workshop as a visioning exercise, challenging attendees to imagine where they see themselves in three years and what it would take to get there. She encouraged participants to begin from the premise, “You’re better than you’ll ever know.” Exercises included a personal SWOT analysis, with each attendee listing their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as they relate to realizing the vision they identified, whether in their personal or professional lives. She noted that each person will have their own schedule for achieving their vision, with some ready to pursue it immediately, and some needing to address roadblocks or challenges. Setbacks are to be expected, even embraced. Said Rothberg, “Sometimes you learn more from what didn’t work than from what did. If you do mess up, own it, learn the lesson, and move on.”
Rothberg’s philosophy for leading yourself can be summarized by the acronym ADVICE: action, determination, vision, integrity, communication, and empathy. And in the era of #MeToo, she emphasized the importance of women succeeding and having a place at the table: “Lead yourself to your vision because you can. Because we need you to. It’s our time, and there’s no better investment than an investment in yourself.”
In the spring semester, the Women’s Leadership Program is planning a number of additional programs on topics including identifying what type of leader you are and understanding microaggressions. Says steering committee member Wall, who arranged for Rothberg to speak, “We look forward to planning programming that will help female administrators at Marist develop the competencies they need to be good leaders.” More information on the program can be found at: https://www.marist.edu/human-resources/marist-womens-leadership-program.