Continuing its long tradition of empowering women and helping William Smith students realize their leadership potential, the William Smith Dean’s office recently hosted the Women of Influence Dinner. The event brought together female leaders on campus to launch William Smith College’s new affiliation with the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN).
“I don’t often think about the fact that I go to a women’s college. This event reminded me of how special and important that is,” says Deirdre Wholly ’11.
Founded in 1978, PLEN strives to prepare women for leadership roles through hands on programming and events that expose students from various women’s colleges to female leaders who are presently influencing public policy at the highest levels. The Washington D.C. based initiative hosts various seminars throughout the year, as well as a summer internship program. PLEN’s central focus is on preparing young women for future leadership roles in public policy.
The evening also featured a keynote address by Pamela O’Leary, executive director of PLEN. O’Leary graduated from the University of California, Berkley and then went on to earn a M.A. in Applied Women’s Studies from Claremont Graduate University. In addition to her involvement with PLEN, she has spent time working for various organizations in and around Washington D.C. that strive to inspire women’s involvement in public office.
“I was honored to be invited and touched by the stories people shared. I have resolved to send cards to the women who have been influential in my life and career. While I know I have told others about these women many times, listening to the stories last night made me realize that I have never actually told them how much they influenced me and shaped who I am today,” says Beth Kinne, assistant professor of environmental studies. “I can imagine that receiving my note could potentially spur them to communicate with their mentors and sources of inspiration, and therefore the impact of this one event may indeed be far-reaching.”