The Hobart and William Smith Colleges President’s Forum Series, established in the winter of 2000 by President Mark D. Gearan, brings a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty, staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members. This year’s series will begin on Thursday, Oct. 2, with a visit from Barbara Ferris, the founder and president of the International Women’s Democracy Center (IWDC), who will discuss “Altering the Leadership Landscape.” Her address will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room in the Warren Hunting Smith Library on the HWS campus. The public is invited to attend. Sign language interpreters will be provided. The event will be broadcast on WEOS 89.7/90.3 FM and on the Web at www.weos.org.
Ferris established the IDWC to ensure that women worldwide have the necessary tools and skills to participate in politics, policy and decision making within their democracies.
Prior to establishing IWDC, she served as the Women in Development Director for Peace Corps for five years–where she designed and managed economic development programs in more than 90 countries. Her major accomplishment was to institutionalize program designs in all sectors of the economy with a gender perspective to ensure that women had access to the resources that Peace Corps volunteers bring to a country.
Formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, Ferris has served as the adviser to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and consulted in management, training, program design and evaluation in more than 100 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, where she designed financial management models for the public sector. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the American University.
“I’m sure that Barbara Ferris’s vast experience and knowledge about gender perspective around the world will offer campus and community members a fascinating picture of how governments, organizations and communities can ensure that women are equal partners in the economic, social and political development of their own countries,” said President Gearan. “It was my pleasure to work with Ms. Ferris during my tenure as director of the Peace Corps. I know first-hand how valuable the work she is doing is to the women of the world.”
President’s Forum guests generally take the opportunity to visit classes or gather with students and faculty members to discuss issues, and Ferris is scheduled to visit classes on Friday, October 3. She will also attend the Women’s Hall of Fame inductions in nearby Seneca Falls, on Oct. 4.
Many people have one-on-one interaction with the speakers for the exchange of ideas or thoughts, and such exchanges offer the speakers a chance to experience the vibrancy of life on this campus. Since many Forum speakers are national and international policy makers, gathering thoughts and suggestions from the Colleges community aids in their future work.