The Voice- Taking Charge: GUWIL Builds A Professional Community On Campus

 

By Michael Bergin on March 1, 2016

Alana Snyder (COL ‘16) walked into a high school classroom to find the word “BITCH” written in large letters on the whiteboard. Her initial shock was echoed by every student who walked in after her. “People kind of trickled in and asked themselves, ‘Why is this on the board?’ We thought this group was going to be kind of about starting a dialogue, not about using bad words,” said Snyder.

“That whole conversation was about what does the word bitch mean when you’re using it in a casual setting or if someone’s using it aggressively; does tone really make a difference?” said Snyder. The issue then turned into a dialogue that stuck with Snyder, one that analyzed the use of the word in society.

The talk was part of a program called “The Girl Effect,” which was based out of Snyder’s high school in her hometown of Los Angeles. The initiative was inspired by a larger campaign that shared the same name. Its principal goals were dialogue on gender in society, female leadership, and empowerment.

Two years later, in the fall of 2012, Snyder entered Georgetown seeking a similar experience to the program she had found so beneficial. However, she was frustrated by a lack of accessible alternatives. “I got to Georgetown looking for something similar, and when I didn’t find that,” she continued, “I decided that it was up to me to make that happen.” This led to the creation of Georgetown University Women in Leadership (GUWIL).

GUWIL began when Snyder met Ava Arroyo (SFS, ‘16). The two discovered their mutual interest in a similar cause, and they began reaching out to friends.  Within a few weeks, the organization had a dozen members, and continued to grow. As of the spring of 2016, GUWIL has a listserv of over 1,400 people.

GUWIL’s website sums up their mission statement in three points: “Careers, Connections, and Community.” The first two points are typical of a business-oriented student organization at Georgetown, but the third point, community, is a much more important and complicated goal.

Building a new home for students to confidently invest their commitment and energy has been challenging. “I think the broad scope of our club maybe makes it harder to have a membership that’s always a consistent membership,” said GUWIL President Lauren Casale (COL ‘17).

With the club’s increasing membership have come questions within the organization concerning its diversity. GUWIL Vice President Lauren Stricker (COL ’18), who began her first term this semester along with Casale, said that even though their organization is highly inclusive and does not require an application, there still have been struggles in forming a diverse community.

“Obviously that was never an intentional thing,” said Stricker. “GUWIL, like any club, will wind up finding its certain niche of people, and we’re always trying to be as reflective of the Georgetown campus itself as possible.”

GUWIL is not alone in this tendency toward forming niche communities. Leslie Hinkson, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Georgetown, explained that this is something inherent to student organizations on college campuses. “So some people think about this as the ‘Balkanization’ of college campuses,” said Hinkson. “We all have our little fiefdoms and we never come together and we never speak to each other.”

There is, however, another view. Hinkson explained that others think of organizations as spaces for anyone to get together and speak about shared experiences, something that they might feel like they can’t do in spaces with others who don’t have this shared experience. Organizations naturally tend toward only fragments of the student body, and this makes inclusion of the entire campus community difficult.

Stricker explained that inclusion has always been a priority for GUWIL. The group has taken steps to open their conversation to all Georgetown students by inviting others to co-sponsor events with the organization. Partnership with other organizations has been GUWIL’s primary means of reaching out to non-members who share similar interests.

In her last weeks as president, Snyder participated in an inter-organizational diversity summit hosted by Georgetown University Aspiring Minority Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs(GAMBLE). Olivia Hewitt (MSB ‘16), Co-President of GAMBLE, said that Snyder reached out to her organization to begin participating in event planning together.

Like GUWIL, GAMBLE is a fairly young organization on Georgetown’s campus, as it was founded in 2008. As a result of these discussions, GUWIL and GAMBLE now have a continuing partnership. In addition to plans to co-sponsor events in the future, the boards of both organizations continue to meet regularly.

“No, we don’t have a point person for diversity,” said Casale. “We have different people who are working on different events with co-sponsors.” She explained that the organization integrates diversifying efforts into the group’s outreach program, and she would like all board members to see this as an important matter.

In the past, GUWIL has partnered with multiple organizations on campus, including the Irish American Society, Georgetown Retail Luxury Association, Asian American Student Association, and College Democrats. In one event, the Irish American Club and GUWIL joined forces to welcome Anne Anderson, the 17th Irish Ambassador to the United States, to Georgetown for a discussion about her experience as a female leader in politics.

Going forward, Casale believes co-sponsorship is vital. She said that she values diffusion of the group’s shared messages over recruitment of new members. She sees this common ground initiative growing even larger with participation in GAMBLE’s Georgetown University Diversity Dialogue Conference 2016, which is occurring on Feb. 26, among other upcoming events that are being planned.

Internally, GUWIL has put an emphasis on gender equality. Marketing committee member Kotryna Jukneviciute (COL ‘18) is tasked with handling social media for the organization. A large emphasis in her work is outreach to the men of Georgetown’s campus, seeking more “manbassadors” as GUWIL refers to it. These “manbassadors” can be seen around campus with GUWIL laptop stickers as part of the club’s larger marketing campaign. “We’re definitely trying to engage both genders in our conversations,” said Jukneviciute. “I think that’s very important, and to make it clear that although it is Georgetown University Women in Leadership, we are not necessarily exclusive to just women.”

“The Girl Effect,” Alana Snyder’s original inspiration for GUWIL, featured an event called BYOB, Bring Your Own Boy. Snyder incorporated into her vision of the event into GUWIL. This event has been one of GUWIL’s most popular, with the most recent BYOB occurring on Feb. 2.

“In a co-ed environment, you always want everyone to be participating in the discussion, so it’s important to feel like there are relevant topics that everyone can speak to,” said Snyder. The most recent discussion centered on the Sony Leaks, specifically gender and equal pay in Hollywood. Even though BYOB occurs only once a semester, men are welcome and encouraged to attend all other GUWIL meetings and events.

Despite their proactive initiatives, two problems have plagued GUWIL since its recent creation: name recognition and public image. First, the group has struggled with making a name for themselves on Georgetown’s campus. Second, the club has received public scrutiny due to misconceptions of its work.

“Especially in the club’s founding days, when it was a baby, people didn’t necessarily understand what we were aiming at with our programming,” said Snyder. “We’ve been criticized for anything and everything to be honest… things range across the spectrum from ‘Oh it’s just another sorority’ to ‘Oh this club is just catering to the one percent.’”

The group began with Snyder and Arroyo reaching out to those closest to them on campus. Their message was clear: this is a club for women who want to excel in business. Beginning with a small, close-knit group and then reaching out into the Georgetown community created some natural difficulties related to exclusivity. Even today, new members expressed concern over how others may see the club at a glance. Marisa Colon (COL ’19) is a freshman who recently became a member of GUWIL. “I do think that maybe some people perceive it as a ‘girls only’ type of club, and that they’re exclusive in that regard,” she said, despite BYOB and other events.

“Our goal is just to get more people on campus aware of what GUWIL is,” said Casale. The organization is recently planning a new event called the Georgetown Women for Others Gala, set to take place on Apr. 7. The event, with a large portion of proceeds to be sent to a yet to be chosen charity, will honor female leaders on Georgetown’s campus. GUWIL intends to reach out to other student organizations on campus, including previous partners, asking for female nominees.

“We’re hoping that that [the Gala]could be our trademark event on campus. we’re trying to get women from all different parts of Georgetown,” said Casale. “It’s a philanthropic event that we’re trying to do … Our goal is to get other groups aware on campus of what GUWIL is.” Snyder originally began developing this idea last semester along with the GUWIL events chair at the time, Meg DiMartino (COL ‘16). Currently, there is an entire committee within GUWIL devoted exclusively to the Gala.

The architects of GUWIL are now seniors, preparing to leave Georgetown. A new generation now sits at the reins of the organization’s board, bringing with it a new set of ideas and directions. The group knows it has questions to answer. As it moves into this second phase of existence, GUWIL hopes to do just that. In the process, it aims to cement itself as a leading force of female empowerment on Georgetown’s campus in years to come.

 

 

The Hoya: GUWIL CONTINUES TO EMPOWER, ADVOCATE

 

 

By Simon Carrol

February 9, 2016

Georgetown University Women in Leadership founders Alana Snyder (COL ’16) and Ava Arroyo (SFS ’16) are stepping down as GUWIL president and vice president following the end of the current semester after forming the organization in 2013. A new executive board will replace their roles, led by Lauren Casale (COL ’17) as president and Lauren Stricker (SFS ’18) as vice president.

Founded in 2013, GUWIL serves as a network devoted to female professional development. With a group email list of 1500 students and a core membership of 200, GUWIL encourages growth and learning experiences through programs designed to bridge undergraduate and post-graduate life for female students. Such initiatives include a mentorship program for its members along with resume workshops, networking events and lectures from guest speakers.

The inception of GUWIL began in Dec. 2012 when Snyder and Arroyo, freshmen at the time, met for coffee to discuss what they viewed as a problem on Georgetown’s campus: the absence of an organization devoted to female professional development.

“My freshman year, I started going to GW Women in Business events and other organizations’ events that have a women’s leadership focus,” Arroyo said. “A lot of peer institutions have [women’s leadership organizations] and I was wondering: why doesn’t Georgetown have anything like this?”

After further discussion and planning, Snyder and Arroyo created GUWIL and utilized personal funds to facilitate the organization’s first events. Despite having initial trouble attracting corporate sponsorship, GUWIL quickly grew in popularity among the student body. During the fall of 2013, Snyder and Arroyo submitted to become part of the new club development process.

Associate Director of Student Engagement Amanda Carlton said that the founding and arrival of GUWIL as a formal club provided a significant space for the female student body to engage with and be inspired by one another.

“GUWIL came in at a pertinent time where across campus there’s been a larger conversation about women within the Georgetown community,” Carlton said. “So what they’ve really been able to do is provide an overarching space for conversation and a space for exploration to empower women in a lot of different realms.”

One program that GUWIL leaders regard as the key to bridging relationships between all classes of the student body is the mentorship program. The program pairs together older students with experience and younger students seeking ways to further their professional development. Mentors help mentees with important processes such as resume-writing, internship searches and other professional tasks.

Former GUWIL Vice President Nishaat Shaik (SFS ’16) noted that the relationships established through the mentorship programs have created a sense of inclusiveness within GUWIL.

“[The mentorship program] has been incredibly important,” Shaik said. “Since it was brought into GUWIL, it has pushed a community feel.”

As the current GUWIL executive board transitions out of its founding leadership, Casale and Stricker are looking to continue improving all aspects of GUWIL. Specific efforts include diversifying corporate sponsorship along with encouraging involvement from men on campus.

Currently, GUWIL maintains sponsorships from companies including Goldman Sachs and Loft, but the group hopes to further diversify its corporate sponsorship outside of companies in the financial service industry. As part of this effort, GUWIL has made forays into the retail industry and partnered up with local Georgetown businesses such as Mai Thai.

One of GUWIL’s most popular events has been its Bring Your Own Boy event, the most recent of which took place Feb. 2. The goal of BYOB is for women in GUWIL to bring a male friend to a discussion on women’s issues in order to expand the impact of GUWIL’s mission and events.

“One thing that we’re really working on is trying to involve men into our program,” Stricker said. “The idea is to engage men and women in this discussion about female empowerment and gender inequality so that men know they can help support women in their search for equality.”

Aside from its BYOB event, GUWIL continues to promote male involvement in the organization through other means. In the past, the organization promoted the idea of “manbassadors,” a name for male allies of female empowerment efforts, through the distribution of laptop stickers.

Though the transition in leadership means GUWIL will be without a pair of leaders who have guided the organization since its inception, the old executive board members remain optimistic about GUWIL’s future.

“It’s sad to be leaving just because I’ve been involved in GUWIL for so long, and I’ve seen it grow,” Shaik said. “But each new board member seems really, really passionate about their new position, and they all have identified amazing goals that we’ve been trying to achieve for so long.”

Read the article on The Hoya here



GEORGETOWN GIRLS LEAD THE WAY

TEXT: DEVORAH ROBERTS
PHOTOS: SHELBY MILLER

We’ve all encountered the stereotype of the “mean girl” before. It’s iconic due to the movie of the same name, and some might even say that mean girls are simply a fact of life.

At first, this seemed to hold true for Alana Snyder, now a senior at Georgetown University.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Alana’s high school had a special reputation for catty girls. Alana describes the girls as cliquey and “materialistically driven,” more caught up with “who had the most Marc Jacobs” than school work.

“It was all these very classic high school things, just taken to the extreme,” Alana says.

In her junior year of high school, Alana, along with a group of other girls decided to make a change. The group got together once a week to talk about whatever topics interested them, such as ‘what are the implications of calling a girl a bitch?’  They would also host events, like BYOB or Bring Your Own Boy, in order to bring men into the conversation.

Around the same time this group was formed, Alana had the chance to meet Maria Shriver, the former First Lady of California.

Shriver, who was a parent to a student at Alana’s school, provided the students with an opportunity to apply for tickets to one Shriver’s Women’s Conferences. Alana, along with a few other girls, were allowed to participate.

There, Alana was able to listen to women who supported female empowerment and leadership. Yet Alana was struck by how young she was compared to the rest of the women in attendance. With an audience primarily composed of adult women, Alana wondered: why were all these women giving such incredible messages so late in life?

 

  

Again, Alana sprung into action.

With a group of girls behind her they got the Board of Associates at her high school together and decided to create their own conference. Since they lived in California, several parents at the school also had networks that put them in connection with a number of famous women. The idea took off, and in Alana’s senior year, the group found itself hosting a conference featuring speakers such as artists Lady Gaga and Mary J. Blige, as well as Alex Morgan from the United States Women’s National Soccer team and Maria Shriver.

The speakers touched on many topics. Lady Gaga, for example, spoke on self-love and having confidence - all through a lot of “f-bombs” of course. Language notwithstanding, the message remained the same: women can and should be leaders in their careers.

“It’s impossible to leave the day and not feel inspired,” Alana says.

It was such a success that, after she graduated, Alana decided to bring the conference with her to Georgetown University.

“I got here [Georgetown] as a freshman, looked around for something like this that I been involved in in high school, feeling like I really need to carry that momentum with me. And it wasn’t there,” she says.

Instead of waiting for something to come along, Alana and her fellow Georgetown peer Ava Arroya, took the initiative. Out of this, Georgetown University Women in Leadership (GUWIL) was born.

Alana says that ultimately they are trying to show girls that they can support one another, instead of simply seeing each other as competition.

“That’s something you hate to say and we’re trying to, at the college-aged level, show girls and women that it doesn’t have to be a dog-eat-dog world,” she says. “It can be a completely give-and-take relationship for those people around you, where someone might do something for you, but then it becomes your turn to do something for them and it’s not a bad thing to do that.”

When the conference took place at Georgetown it was once more a “smashing success.” Maria Shriver attended again, as did a number of other speakers.

“The conference is an inspiring day; it’s always awesome to hear from other women and what they’re up to, what kind of advice they have for young women looking to pursue the different opportunities toward graduation,” Alana says. “But it’s one day. So, how do you take all these lofty goals and ideas to a regimen that you can kind of employ in your everyday life?”

That, she says, is exactly where the rest of GUWIL’s programming comes in. The group offers a variety of activities like listening to a speaker series, participating in skill based workshops on resumes or social media, and joining mentorship programs between older and younger members of the group.

“We want to cater to an undergraduate group, providing career connections and community,” Alana says. “We’re just riding the gap between undergraduate life and post-grad life.”

Though Ava has since stepped down from her co-founder position, Alana says that she couldn’t have done it without her. Their constant dialogue and different leadership styles were paramount to GUWIL’s creation and success as the organization’s presidents.

“It matters to have someone there who’s as invested in it, because they as a co-founder too want to see it succeed as much as you do,” Alana says.  “I really owe a lot of the inspiration and motivation to Ava, just because she was one of those effervescent people that simply could not be brought down by challenges.”

The support Alana and Ava found in each other is truly embodied in the group as a whole.

“We like to boast at GUWIL that we really do have a group of girls that 100 percent support every other member,” Alana says.

While she believes the conference and skill based workshops are “incredibly important,” for Alana, it always goes back to the community of women attending those workshops.

“It’s really great to learn leadership skills and interact with some of the world’s most influential people through our student summits, but at the end of the day, you can’t only look up,” she says. “You have to be able to look around and feel like there’s people that are supporting you.”

Now a senior at Georgetown, Alana says she’s learned the community component is not something that she’s just made up to be important, but actually is important.

“I think I’ve personally been affected just in terms of reminding myself that despite my having been personally involved with this for three years, going on four, there are still people who are new to this, who continue to have this community, and all the programs that make it happen,” she says.

Check out this article on Tote Magazine, featuring GUWIL President and Co-Founder, Alana Snyder! Follow the link and check out section 6 to find the article: http://magazine.totemag.com/#


 

Leaders of the Pack: Ava Arroyo and Alana Snyder

By Lauren Sinclair

Posted Oct 19 2013

When Ava Arroyo (SFS ’16) and Alana Snyder (COL ’16) arrived at Georgetown, they noticed something was missing. Among all of the amazing clubs here, there were not any that really focused on networking and women in leadership. With so many aspiring women making up the student body, this came as a shock. Her Campus chatted with Ava, a Milwaukee native, and Alana, hailing from Los Angeles, about their ambitious move in creating an organization revolving around bolstering the networking system among Georgetown girls. These two joined forces, shared ideas and Georgetown University Women in Leadership (GUWIL) was born.

Where did you get the idea for GUWIL and how did it all start? 

Ava: I was really involved in high school in advancing women and girls through various organizations and after my first semester at Georgetown I was so stunned there wasn’t a network for female students to be apart of. I was attending GW and Harvard Women in Business events because there was no access to these networks at Georgetown. Alana and I found each other on Facebook (epitome of Generation Y) because we both were posting articles about women’s issues and we decided to meet for coffee to talk about our mutual interests. One thing lead to another and before the end of the meeting we were designing a logo and setting up a website for GU Women in Leadership! We knew we had to fill a need in the Georgetown community and we’ve been busy building our organization since then. I also want to add, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book and movement was a huge force behind starting the organization and forming our mission and vision. Statistics like “only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women”, “women make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns”, “women only hold 20% of the seats in congress”, really ignite us to want to change those ratios! We are doing that by having women engage in dialogue, workshops and networking events before they enter the workforce. An anecdotal example of what GUWIL hopes to provide long term: About 7% of women attempt to negotiate their salary, while 57% of men do and this is because of internal and external barriers. We hope every GUWIL member who graduates has the confidence to negotiate her first salary! #LeanIn

Alana: I attended a women’s conference hosted by Maria Shriver in Los Angeles when I was in high school and I left the venue so inspired that I knew I had to start something similar at my school. With the help of the some fellow students and the administration we soon had our own conference with speakers like Maria Shriver, Lady Gaga and Alex Morgan. The conference was a huge hit and now I’m doing the same thing at Georgetown. Shout out to Maria for being such an amazing Hoya and role model!

As a relatively new organization, what plans do you have for the future and to promote the growth of the club? 

Alana: We have two marketing chairs who pump out material and updates all the time through different platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine, email and wild postings. They work really hard and Ava and I try to brainstorm even more ways to get our brand out there like networking events open to the whole campus (not just our general members) and resume workshops.

Ava: We have many exciting events planned for the upcoming school year. We will be bringing in some inspiring leaders from the D.C community to share their experience as professional women, hosting a networking brunch, and our biggest of event of the year is our Own It Women’s Leadership Summit on April 12th, 2014. We hope to continue to grow and increase membership this year. Since the sophomores are the founding class we are always trying to spread the word to upperclassmen by curating our programming to fit their needs. For example, this week we are holding a resume workshop with the Levo League which is applicable to all students but especially helpful to upperclassmen. We continue to increase membership by utilizing our social networks, word of mouth and good old fashion tabling! Connect with us: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and of course email us at gu.wo.co@gmail.com!

Source: GUWIL Instagram 

What is GUWIL's main goal as an organization?

 Ava: Our main goal is simple: to advance undergraduate women personally and professionally. We want women to answer the questions “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?,” how can you get to where you want to be, do you have a mentor to help you achieve your goals? Those are some examples of questions we ask of our members but at the end of the day we want Georgetown undergraduate women to graduate with a strong network of women they can rely on beyond Georgetown and appreciate the community and opportunities GUWIL provided them during their years here. 

Alana: We have an official vision and mission statement but I think in my own words, our goal is to foster a professional environment where leadership skills are developed and put to use for the greater Georgetown community.

What is an average GUWIL meeting like? Is there a lot of behind the scenes planning as the co-presidents of the club?

Alana: There is no “average” GUWIL meeting and we are proud of that! We try to bring in a huge array of speakers from different fields and have various workshops about outlining resumes to the designing the perfect elevator pitch.

Ava:  Because we are an organization that’s goal is to provide undergraduate women of all four schools with the resources they need, every meeting varies. Our standard programming is monthly roundtable discussions, skill building workshops, and guest speakers. We believe by providing comprehensive programming and opportunities we are addressing the diverse demographic here on campus. There is a lot of planning behind the scenes but luckily we have a wonderful team to make sure we deliver the best events possible. Our Executive Board meets every Monday to debrief on past events, update one another on our individual projects and brainstorm future goals! We leave every meeting energized and inspired because of the enthusiasm and hard work of our members. We also have a talented and dedicated advisory board helping us plan our spring summit, they help provide overall clarity to our goals and mission. Although we both do a lot behind the scenes, we also have this amazing team making things happen and who provide a fresh perspective. 

Who are your female role models? 

Ava: I seriously could provide a list of 100 female role models but I won’t bore you with that! I absolutely have to say Sheryl Sandberg who is the COO of Facebook because she is the inspiration behind GUWIL’s mission and vision because of her book Lean In. A few other women are Hillary Clinton, Tory Burch, Marissa Mayer, and Caroline Ghosn. Caroline was my boss this past summer and she taught me so much about cultivating your energy and being a servile leader who asks “what can I do to help my team?” So much about being a leader is being able to help the team behind your idea and providing that support and inspiration for them.

Alana: Maria Shriver is the bomb. She is humble, she is nice and she is such a go-getter. She makes things happen by being strong and bold. She is efficient and smart. I think she speaks eloquently but she is always frank. I aspire to be like her one day.

How can girls who are interested in GUWIL become a part of the organization?

Ava and Alana: Anyone can join! You can become a general member by attending our 2 meetings per month. You simply fill out a form with all your information and you will be added to our list serv which grants you access to all our amazing resources and opportunities. In addition, you can join a committee or apply for one of our executive board positions if you want to be more involved in shaping the organization. Email us at gu.wo.co@gmail.com if you're interested! 

Click on the link for the full story on Her Campus: http://www.hercampus.com/school/georgetown/leaders-pack-ava-arroyo-and-alana-snyder


 

students plan ny summit

GUWIL and GRLA cohost leaders in retail and luxury

By Emma Gross

January 23, 2015

On Thursday, Jan. 29, the Georgetown Retail and Luxury Association will team up with Georgetown Women in Leadership to cosponsor the first-ever Global Luxury Summit at the Time Warner Center in New York City.

The summit brings together CEOs and chairmen from top retail and luxury companies like Tom Ford International, Estee Lauder, Michael Kors, Kara Ross New York and the Ermenegildo Zegna Group.  The theme of the conference is “Building a Global Luxury Brand.” It will allow for these CEOs to share their experiences with Georgetown students and provide insight into their successes in the retail and luxury fields.

“Students will have the unique opportunity to interact with professionals and executives, during a reception, a panel (with an accompanying Q&A period) and a networking session. The Global Luxury Summit signifies a one of a kind opportunity to gain exposure and develop connections,” Director of Public Relations at GRLA, Anthony Fadil, said to The Hoya in an email.

This is not the first time that these top CEOs have been involved in university events, but this marks a new advancement in their campus relations as these influential figures come together in the first-ever summit of its kind to converse with students in New York.  GRLA is happy to see this continued involvement.

“We have established relationships with many of the panelists and have been honored to have them on campus in the past as guest speakers,” Fadil said.

“Given the theme of the Global Luxury Summit, we have identified our panelists as leaders in their field who have mastered their craft, risen to great heights and maintained successful brands through time. We are absolutely thrilled to host them in New York City and look forward to the insight and inspiration they will offer to those in attendance at the Global Luxury Summit.”

Only Georgetown students and alumni are permitted to attend the event, “as we want to offer our fellow Hoyas an unparalleled avenue through which they can explore a different facet of their professional interests,” Fadil said.
Admission to the event is free, and registration is available online – part of which requires an uploaded resume to be distributed at the event – as well as the opportunity to purchase a roundtrip bus ticket to the event in New York City.

Though this is just the first conference of its kind, GRLA hopes to continue the tradition for years to come.
“The hope is that professional opportunities in retail and luxury will be increasingly integrated into the Georgetown community in order to capitalize on the interest expressed by our peers and the tremendous talent present among our student body,” Fadil said.

The Georgetown Retail and Luxury Association works to connect students to networking opportunities all year through events such as the summit.

“Established in 2011 as a career-based outreach program for students interested in the retail and luxury industries, the GRLA serves as an outlet for international exposure to business and promotes Georgetown as a premier source of talent and leadership,” Fadil said.

“With the intention of presenting the Georgetown community with access to informational and networking opportunities, the GRLA organizes lectures and invites guest speakers to campus. These speakers share the insights gained through their unique corporate experiences, elaborate on the world of retail and luxury, and address their views on the future of the industries,” Fadil said.

The summit holds equal importance to its co-sponsor, Georgetown Women in Leadership, an organization focused on encouraging undergraduate women to become leaders in their careers.

“GUWIL’s general goals are to equip our undergraduate members with the resources they need to excel personally and professionally,” GUWIL President Alana Snyder ( ’16)  said to The Hoya in an email.

“We accomplish this with weekly roundtable discussions, workshops or speakers,” said Snyder. GUWIL is most known for its OWN IT Summit. Similar to this particular event, the summit featured prominent women in their fields to discuss their success and offered networking opportunities. The tickets for the event sold out within a day.

Last semester, GRLA asked GUWIL to help co-sponsor this particular event.

“We chose to sponsor the event because the retail industry is currently developing in a way that makes more job opportunities. Because of these blank spaces, we want to encourage women to get involved and find room to be leaders,” Snyder said.

Both organizations foresee the same benefits in sponsoring the Global Luxury Summit – providing Georgetown students with even more networking and learning opportunities to explore their future careers.

“We hope that students leave this event feeling like they have a better understanding for what potential there is for growth of the retail industry and that Georgetown is paving the way for women and men alike to find success in this area,” Snyder said.

GRLA wants the same.

“We hope that students will learn from the experiences and advice of our panelists in order to maximize their incredible potential and become more aware of the endless possibilities open to them,” Fadil said.

“Consequently, we hope that this remarkable event provides a launching pad for students to identify areas of interest and ultimately reach the goals that they set out to achieve.”

The combined effort of GRLA and GUWIL to host leading professionals in the industries of retail and luxury has culminated in a conference that is sure to become an annual tradition. While the location of the event may seem to be out of the way, the opportunities and experiences gathered during this summit will make it well worth the trip.

Click on the link to access the full story via The Hoya:  http://www.thehoya.com/students-plan-ny-summit/


 

at Guwil own it summit, women share wisdom

By Molly Simio

April 15, 2014

An astronaut, a crisis communicator and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist all sat onstage in Lohrfink Auditorium on Saturday. Along with 25 other leaders, the unusual group shared common experiences and advice as women in leadership roles from a wide variety of fields.

Georgetown University Women in Leadership brought these 28 leaders to campus for the group’s inaugural Own It Summit. The all-day event focused on helping women gain knowledge and leadership skills and empowering them to succeed.

“We created [the summit] when we realized that there is an actual need to connect with these female leaders that exist right now and learn from their experiences, learn what they’re going through and how they got there,” Summit Co-Chair Helen Brosnan (SFS ’16) said at the start of the event.

The summit, sponsored by Bloomberg LP, is the biggest event that GUWIL has held and marks one year of the organization’s presence on campus. It was the first conference of its kind at Georgetown.

“I think about the really accomplished women that I went to Georgetown with, and how we would have loved a summit like this. … I’m so glad to see that the women here at Georgetown have conceived this and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to grow,” said Norah O’Donnell (COL ’95, GRD ’03), co-anchor of “CBS This Morning,” in an interview after speaking at the summit.

Poet Azure Antoinette presented a poem dedicated to the students who planned the summit at the start of the event.

 

MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA
Maria Shriver talks to reporters after speaking at the Own It Summit.

“The fact that there’s all of this empathy and this desire and want to do something now, I think is just mind-blowing. It says so much about millennials. It says so much about how much we want to affect change and be a part of the undercurrent,” Azure said in an interview with The Hoya.

During the first keynote presentation, Kara Swisher (SFS ’84), a technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, interviewed former CEO and Chairman of America Online Steve Case and Case Foundation CEO Jean Case. Their conversation focused on technology’s growing role in igniting social change and the part that women play in helping to create this change.

“Women are not lacking for ideas and I’m really excited about the future because … I actually think it comes more naturally to women to figure out how to solve these problems than it does to men,” Jean Case said. “That may be a bias … but the most important thing is making the fearless ask.”

Washington Post journalist Mary Jordan (CAS ’83) interviewed Dee Dee Myers, who served as the first-ever female White House press secretary during the first two years of President Bill Clinton’s (SFS ’68) administration, for the second keynote presentation. The two discussed the ways in which being a woman impacted Myers’ career.

“I think there’s much less room for [public] mistakes,” Myers said. “There are certain assumptions that make the threshold for making a mistake and recovering from it higher [for women].”

After the presentation, the summit’s coordinators presented Myers with the Own It Award. She was selected to receive this recognition both because of her exemplary leadership qualities and her status as a pioneer in her field.

In addition to the keynote presentations, there were four panel discussions throughout the day featuring female leaders in the fields of business, media, politics and STEM. During these dialogues, panelists shared their personal experiences of working in their respective fields and offered advice for overcoming some of the challenges that they have faced as female leaders.

SOFIA LAYANTO/THE HOYA
Norah O’Donnell, co-anchor for “CBS This Morning”

“For me, in terms of working and focusing on the work, is deciding early on, as a woman, the kinds of things that are important to you. … Things like ethics and values and hard work, and deciding what kinds of issues you’d like to get behind,” Judy Smith, a crisis manager who served as the inspiration for Olivia Pope of “Scandal,” said during the politics panel.

During the media panel, speakers advised young women to be tenacious as they begin their careers.

“There are a ton of people who are really smart, as smart as you. … What really makes the difference is drive, almost obsessive drive. If you have that quality, employers tend to notice it, maybe exploit it a little, but you tend to get somewhere,” New York Times Washington Bureau Chief and Political Editor Carolyn Ryan said.

Hannah Sullivan (COL ’14), who attended the summit, said that this advice both impacted her and inspired her.

“After listening to the media panel, a lot of what we were hearing was this push for tenacity and this push for perseverance and for working really hard, so I think that was inspiring to see that you will have to put in this hard work, but it will get you somewhere,” Sullivan said.

Throughout the day, attendees also broke out into experiential sessions. These small workshops ranged in topic from salary negotiation strategies to exploring the role of women of color in leadership. Additionally, several speakers held office hours during which they engaged in open conversations with attendees.

Anna Lignell (COL ’17) attended a workshop that focused on networking strategies.

“The advice that has stuck the most with me is to not be afraid to put yourself out there, because what’s the worst that’s going to happen?” Lignell said.

Journalist Maria Shriver (CAS ’77), the former first lady of California, gave a brief presentation at the start of the summit urging women to be leaders in all aspects of life.

In an interview, Shriver said that she felt that she cultivated many of the qualities that are necessary for leadership during her time at Georgetown.

 

OLIVIA HEWITT/THE HOYA
Azure Antoinette, who composed and read a poem in honor of the Own It Summit on Saturday.

“I think that’s ethics, I think that’s values, being able to see the world as a bigger place than just you,” Shriver said. “Everybody who goes into work, you’re faced with decisions along the way. … You’re constantly asked in life to make decisions and I think this institution does a good job of talking to you about what’s ethical, what’s moral, what’s right, what is social justice, how to look at the world in a bigger way than just yourself.”

Moving forward, GUWIL has plans to consolidate pre-existing efforts to promote women in leadership at Georgetown. The group hopes to continue its partnership with the university.

O’Donnell said that she believes the world is at a tipping point when it comes to female leaders, pointing out the disproportionate representation of women in Congress and the Supreme Court.

“I think that the 21st century is going to be the century for women and girls,” O’Donnell said. “Tom Brokaw first coined that phrase that the 21st century is going to be the century for women. And I completely agree with him. I think it’s the cause of our generation: the empowerment of women and girls.”

Click here for the full story at The Hoya: http://www.thehoya.com/at-guwil-own-it-summit-women-share-wisdom/


 

own it summit garners prominent supporters

By Molly Simio

April 8, 2014 

Georgetown University Women in Leadership, a club founded by two current sophomores, is only in its second year on campus. Yet, the young student group has already partnered with the Office of the President and Bloomberg L.P. to put on an all-day conference featuring 28 speakers, ranging from journalist Alex Wagner and the inspiration behind Olivia Pope of “Scandal,” Judy Smith, to journalist Maria Shriver (CAS ’77), the former first lady of California.

The Own It Summit, led by Co-Chairs Kendall Ciesemier (COL ’15) and Helen Brosnan (SFS ’16), will take place in the Rafik B. Hariri Building on Saturday.

Events co-sponsored by the Office of the President usually take place in conjunction with another academic department or administrative arm, like University Information Services or the Office of the Provost. It is relatively rare for the president’s office to so prominently join with a student group for an entirely student-run event.

The Office of the President referred all comment to the Office of Communications, which sent a statement clarifying that the conference would be broadcast online Saturday.

“Once we had gotten Bloomberg as the official sponsor of the event, that partnership opened a lot of doors for us. For some reason, Georgetown all of a sudden wanted to be involved,” Ciesemier said. “It suddenly became a big thing on everyone’s radar, and everyone was talking about it.”

Brosnan, who completed two Bloomberg internships spanning nearly half of 2013, pitched the summit to the company’s events team last semester. After receiving the sponsorship, the summit’s organizers connected with university administrators to discuss the possibility of expansion.

“Bloomberg came on and they had talked about a media plan and a press plan and all these sorts of things like expanding the conference to more than we had imagined in the beginning, which was awesome,” Brosnan said.

GUWIL has worked with the Office of the President, the Office of Advancement, the Office of Communications and the Office of Financial Affairs to develop the summit.

Provost Robert Groves, Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis and Senior Advisor to the President for Faculty Relations Lisa Krim are among the summit’s hosts. University President John J. DeGioia is both a speaker and a host for the event.

The $20 tickets went on sale Feb. 28 and sold out by the next day. The conference released 15 additional tickets April 1.

Over 100 leaders were invited to present their viewpoints at the conference, with Saturday’s summit featuring 28 speakers from a variety of fields, including politics, media, business and technology. Although most invitees declined, the feedback was largely positive.

“Most people were more than happy to do it, but a lot of them had conflicts,” Own It Summit Director of Speakers and Host Committee Liz Buffone (COL ’14) said.

The summit’s organizers utilized their connections with female business leaders to create a large network of potential speakers.

Ciesemier started by reaching out to eBay Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Richelle Parham, whom she met at a Google conference during her freshman year.

“I reached out to her just for advice and I thought that maybe she’d come, but I didn’t even ask her if she’d come. We set up a time to talk on the phone and she said she would love to come,” Ciesemier said. “I hadn’t assumed she would want to just because she has no relation to Georgetown, but she was super pumped about it.”

Parham connected the organizers with Smith, the crisis management expert who served as the inspiration for Olivia Pope of “Scandal.” The conference attracted Kara Swisher (SFS ’84), a technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who also connected GUWIL with her wife, Megan Smith, a vice president at Google, as well as both former CEO and Chairman of America Online Steve Case and Case Foundation CEO Jean Case.

Through this kind of networking by GUWIL members and between speakers, the Own It Summit expanded its list of participants to the final 28.

Shriver, who founded the Shriver Report, which focuses on cultural and societal changes affecting women, was one of the first people to sign up for the host committee to serve as a moderator last summer. After promoting women’s leadership initiatives in California, Shriver wanted to expand her efforts to her alma mater. She already participates heavily in the community, including speaking at an Office of Advancement event in Los Angeles last year. Her daughter, Christina Schwarzenegger (COL ’13) graduated last May.

“I had met her … and she told me that she had wanted to start something like this at Georgetown, or do a women’s conference at Georgetown,” Ciesemier said. “As a first lady of California, she had done a lot of women’s conferences. This is a very natural fit for something that she would want to be involved in.”

Dee Dee Myers, who served as the first-ever female White House press secretary during the first two years of President Bill Clinton’s administration, is one of the event’s keynote speakers and will be presented with the Own It Award at the summit.

“[The award is] given to a woman who really exemplifies a 21st-century leader and owns all of the hard responsibilities that come with her job, but most importantly … we’re giving it to a woman who is a ‘first’ in her industry or a ‘first’ in her position,” Brosnan said.

Steve Case and Jean Case will give the other keynote presentation.

The event will also include four panel discussions focusing on policy, media, business and science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Throughout the day, participants will attend experiential sessions hosted by speakers that will focus on key issues such as self-promotion, salary negotiation and women of color.

“We want to have a lot of like-minded men and women come together and gain this new sense of empowerment and confidence to go set the world on fire,” Buffone said.

GUWIL plans to continue to work with the university in the future to promote female leadership at Georgetown.

“[The university] really wants this to be not just a one-year thing. They’re rallying together all these different groups of people to make a much more succinct and sustainable women’s leadership initiative on campus,” Ciesemier said.

Although Summit committee members have not yet begun plans for their post-summit endeavors, Ciesemier said that she envisions unifying pre-existing efforts to promote women in leadership at Georgetown. Apart from the summit, GUWIL has continued its meetings and programming as a student group.

“We should see some real unification happening after the summit and a more formalized effort,” Ciesemier said. “The goal is to create an umbrella organization that would house all of these different initiatives.”

Such pre-existing efforts include an initiative led by Davis to promote leadership among female faculty members.

“I’m an advocate for women leaders in any capacity and am especially proud of the GU women who put together the Own It Summit,” Davis wrote in an email. “Their leadership in putting together the summit and rallying men and women across the country to participate exemplifies the positive impact that can occur when women take ownership of a larger societal need.”

Click here for the full story: http://www.thehoya.com/own-it-summit-garners-prominent-supporters

women leaders set to own it

By Jess Kelham-Hohler

February 28, 2014

Despite only being recognized by the Student Activities Commission this semester, Georgetown Women in Leadership, a group whose motive is to advance undergraduate women personally and professionally, is powering full steam ahead and proving just what women can achieve. Its upcoming Own It Summit on April 12 features speakers ranging from the vice president of Google[x] to a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist to an astronaut, and it promises to be an impressive and inspiring event.

Describing the speakers that summit co-chairs Helen Brosnan (SFS ’16) and Kendall Ciesemier (COL ’15) have managed to bring together for this event as impressive is an understatement. Brosnan and Ciesemier admit they’re both still in shock themselves.

“We started with people we knew and went from there. We’ve been really surprised by finding out how many of these people know each other and how excited they are to bring together their friends,” Ciesemier said.

The enthusiasm with which the speakers have responded to the event reflects exactly the sort of attitude that the summit seeks to promote.  Ambassador Melanne Verveer responded to the organizer’s email within one minute, and other women not only promised to be there, but to bring along some prominent friends as well. As a result, the summit will feature the likes of Richelle Parham, chief marking officer for eBay; Norah O’Donnell, co-host of “CBS This Morning”; and Judy Smith, who inspired the “Scandal” character Olivia Pope.

Even more surprising is the fact that more than half of these prestigious women are Georgetown alumnae, or at least connected to Georgetown in some way. Brosnan pointed out the disparate contrast between the recognition of male alumni who work in politics and the many female alumnae who have gone on to do amazing things.

“People don’t even realize that they are part of our alumni and didn’t realize that they had access to them,” Brosnan said.

Brosnan and Ciesemier both noted the importance of getting women from a wide range of industries to be involved in the summit.

“The top engineer from Google is coming, and there’s no reason for her to come at all,” Brosnan said. “No one here is an engineer — we don’t have an engineering school — but she has such an interesting career life story that someone can sit in the audience and listen and get inspired.”

While the summit is focused on empowering women, instead of acting as a forum for discussing women’s issues such as concerns over body image or facing sexism in the workplace, it will emphasize showing female students how they can better improve their leadership skills.

“People have a serious misconception that GUWIL is this uber-feminist group where we only talk about women’s issues, or on the other side, just see us as being super professional and [businesslike] when that’s not the case at all. It’s really about leadership,” Brosnan said.

She highlighted that the mission behind the summit is to acknowledge that while women may face these barriers and hardships in their careers, they can look past them and see how they can work to the best of their ability despite these challenges.

“With the summit, we’re saying: Let’s assume that all the women in this room are going to be CEOs — how can they be the best CEOs they can possibly be?” Ciesemier added, “This is definitely not a whining conference.”

As part of the summit’s mission to foster leadership skills among female Hoyas, the day will feature opportunities to connect with the speakers in a variety of formats during breakout sessions. Part of GUWIL’s  goal is to make the summit interactive, as well as to combat the issue of “the boy’s club” with a stronger, more welcoming women’s alternative. With a choice of office hours, workshops and more general breakout sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to get valuable advice and learn how to connect with professional women who can inspire and support.

The structure of the summit therefore directly addresses issues that the GUWIL leaders and the professionals they contacted have recognized as key problems for women climbing the career ladder. Surprisingly, a lot of them are about problems between women in the workplace. One of them is the issue of mentorship.

“It’s so hard, but so important, to have a woman in power who you can relate to and have access to, and with whom you can build a relationship that’s not looked at as inappropriate, as with older men and younger women hanging out. That mentorship component is a real challenge,” Ciesemier said.

The creation of this event is hugely important for both GUWIL and the university in general. Many students and faculty members were surprised to discover that such an event didn’t already exist. On a campus that encourages its students to be leaders, the summit will place significant emphasis on strengthening women’s ambitions to assuming powerful roles.

“GUWIL has large ambitions to ensure women make it to senior positions, and so much of that starts with providing the supportive ecosystem in the undergraduate years — and even earlier, if possible,” said co-President Ava Arrayo (SFS ’16).

Rather than dwell on the problems that can hold women back from their career aspirations, the summet will inspire the brilliant women who make up Georgetown’s community to take the initiative to become the next generation of female leaders.

Tickets for the summit are available for purchase starting Feb. 28.

Click here for the full story at The Hoya: http://www.thehoya.com/women-leaders-set-to-own-it/