Top Takeaways from Villanova’s 2017 Women’s Leadership Summit
Last month, AIC attended Villanova University’s much-anticipated, biennial Leadership Summit. The event’s theme, ‘Women Igniting Change,’ was certainly felt and experienced throughout the day. From hearing Val Ackerman, Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference, ‘tip-off’ the lunchtime keynote, to attending various thought leadership panels in the afternoon, to concluding with speeches by esteemed and accomplished women such as Anne Welch McNulty and Anne Marie Slaughter, the Leadership Summit was truly remarkable and we were grateful to be a part of it. Upon reflection of the event, we’ve compiled a list of our top takeaways:
Those of us who grew with readily-accessible girls’ team sports have Val Ackerman’s generation to thank: Val Ackerman shared her experiences on the lack of girls’ team sports in the New Jersey town where she grew up. Although her father and grandfather helped to change this due to their athletic director roles at both the state and local levels, their accomplishments didn’t quite carry over across multiple state borders to Virginia, where Val played NCAA basketball as a Cavalier at UVA. Fast forward to those of us who were born during or after Val’s 1981 college graduation year, and girls’ team sports were the standard by the time we started playing them in the late-80s and early 90s. Thank you, Val, for laying the groundwork for those of us who enrolled in girls’ team sports like it was our second nature.
We need more women in politics: Marc C. Alexander, Dean of Villanova University’s School of Law, moderated a panel with two women, each representing two major political parties in the US. Political differences aside, what panelists Sarah Chamberlain and Maureen Tracey-Mooney could agree on is the fact that women from both sides of the aisle are key to working through highly divisive topics that would otherwise result in political standstill. Given the polarity of today’s political climate, it’s probably fair to conclude that having more women in politics would equate to getting more accomplished.
Villanova women are actively “igniting” and inspiring multiple sects of society: We attended a “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” panel and heard from an amazing group of Villanova women who represented various fields of study and professional roles. Panelist Lauren Bright, an alumnus of Villanova’s School of Law, currently serves as Deputy General Counsel & Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s DC Office. Perhaps it’s not surprising Lauren ended up in an organization whose vision for humanity correlates with Villanova’s core Augustinian values and academic environment “where students learn to think critically, act compassionately, and succeed while serving others.” Other panelists included Madeline Bell, President & CEO of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Carissa Adams, Head Coach for Villanova Women’s Running, and Kerry Bruggemann, Principal at Michaud Cooley Erickson. The panel was moderated by Narda Quigley, an associate professor of Management and Chair of the Department of Management and Operations at the Villanova School of Business – all around, we heard from a great mix of women that remind us of the Forbes article on top colleges that dominate academically and athletically.
That there’s still some truth to Anne Welsh McNulty’s reflections on entering the 1970s workplace: “We were ready for the world, but the world wasn’t ready for us”. These were the words of Anne Welsh McNulty, Villanova University Class of 1975, in reference to entering the workplace upon college graduation. It seemed many in the audience who graduated from college in the decades following Anne found themselves relating to this statement, which reflects highly on the university’s consistent, long-term leadership stance as it pertains to the advancement of their women students.
That more needs to be done so that the obstacles presented in the prominent “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” article are no longer a reality: Anne Marie Slaughter, PhD, JD, and President and CEO of New America, reflected on her 2012 article that was published in “The Atlantic.” During her evening keynote, she openly admitted that 3 years after she had written the article, she found she was still unsettled on the topic of women and work. Perhaps through further collaboration by way of Villanova’s newly-minted Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership, we can develop long-lasting solutions which will fully enable women to contribute to society while simultaneously allow them to economically provide for themselves and their families.
In conclusion, we were honored to be part of such an energizing and inspiring event. As a woman-owned small business, AIC looks forward to contributing to the newly-minted Institute for Women’s Leadership, specifically as it pertains to the advancement of women in the technology sector. A tremendous thank you to Villanova University and benefactor Anne Welsh McNulty for their efforts in making the institute a reality.