In 1906, nurseryman and philanthropist William Smith had passionate ideals regarding women’s suffrage and universal education when he chartered a new women’s college in Geneva, N.Y. Founder’s Day was established in honor of Smith’s vision and dedication and has become one of William Smith College’s oldest traditions. Students, alumnae, administrators and faculty members gather to celebrate the establishment of the College and the achievements of its women.
This year, William Smith welcomes HWS Trustee Gail Herman McGinn ’73 as the keynote speaker. McGinn is president of McGinn Consulting, LLC, and former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Plans with the U.S. Department of Defense. She served as one of the highest ranking civilian women in the Department of Defense and dedicated her life to fighting for benefits for soldiers and their families. McGinn was the senior career official responsible for policy oversight of the Department of Defense community quality of life program, including the operation of a K-12 Department of Defense school system overseas and in the United States, and a commissary and military exchange system to supply groceries and goods to military personnel and their families worldwide.
She provided personal leadership to the planning and development of programs geared to military family support, child development, family advocacy and domestic violence prevention, and casualty and mortuary affairs policies. She was the Senior Language Authority for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and worked to improve foreign language capability within the Department of Defense and developed policies and approaches to address sexual assault within the Armed Forces.
With a B.A. in psychology, magna cum laude, from William Smith, McGinn was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. While attending William Smith, she was a member of the William Smith judicial board, the Echo & Pine yearbook and the Dean’s List. She also holds a master’s degree in education from Boston University.
This year William Smith Congress is hosting a Founder’s Day brunch on Sunday, Jan. 30, at 11 a.m. The event will take place up on the Hill in the Comstock Dining Room, part of the original William Smith campus. Additional speakers include William Smith Dean Cerri Banks; Caitlin O’Brien ’12; Director of Alumnae Relations Kathy Killius Regan ’82, P’13; and Susan Flanders Cushman ’98, president of the William Smith Alumnae Association.