The Hobart and William Smith community will gather virtually to celebrate the founding of William Smith College with four alumnae panelists, who will share their insights as leaders in community development, civic engagement and social advocacy.
On Thursday, Nov. 12, Rachel Henderson ’06, Delvina (Smith) Morrow ’09, Joann Skinner ’18 and LaKisha Williams ’96 will join the 2020 Founder’s Day panel beginning at 7 p.m., together with President Joyce P. Jacobsen, William Smith Dean Lisa Kaenzig P’22, William Smith Congress Treasurer Irini Konstantinou ’23, Director of Alumni and Alumnae Relations Chevy DeVaney ’95, P’21, P’23 and an audience of students, alums, administrators and faculty.
“We are so excited to have these remarkable William Smith graduates join us for this year’s celebration,” says DeVaney. “Rachel, Delvina, Joann and LaKisha are leaders driven by a sense of engagement and service — values that William Smith alumnae share and that make this conversation as timely as ever.”
Kaenzig says that “hearing from alums who did amazing work while here on campus, who stayed connected and who are making change every single day is what each of us needs right now. It’s easy to focus on how hard things are right now, but here are four people who graduated and have gone on to make an extraordinary impact on the world, whether they graduated two years ago or 25. This is exactly what we need to inspire us.”
Highlighting panelists’ community engagement and activism at HWS and after graduation, the discussion will also include a question-and-answer session.
Sponsored by the William Smith Dean’s Office, William Smith Congress and the William Smith Alumnae Association, the annual Founder’s Day celebration is among the oldest HWS traditions. Each fall, the Colleges’ community recognizes the establishment of William Smith and the achievements of its students and graduates.
Inspired by the suffrage movement in nearby Seneca Falls, Geneva nurseryman and philanthropist William Smith made the gift to establish a women’s college on Dec. 13, 1906. Two years later, William Smith College enrolled its first class of 18 students. The College was founded adjacent to Hobart and entered into a coordinate arrangement that is now unique in American higher education.
Rachel Henderson is a Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Good at Fenton Communications. She is an award-winning senior communications professional with more than 15 years of media relations, social impact storytelling and cause marketing experience. Her expertise ranges widely, from global development, public health, sport philanthropy, refugees and migration, to consumer brands, public affairs, sustainability and healthcare.
Throughout her career, Henderson has served in a variety of other senior leadership roles at global agencies and nonprofit organizations, including The RHA Group as President and Managing Director, Warschawski as Vice President and Head of XR Storytelling, the United Nations Foundation heading communications for the Nothing But Nets campaign, and Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs for Ogilvy Public Relations in Washington, D.C.
Henderson serves on the Boards of RefuSHE, Prevent Human Trafficking, and the Mahendra Singh Foundation, offering pro bono communications counsel. She resides in Springfield, Va., and in her free time can be found spinning or taking care of her puppy, Rigby.
For more than 10 years, Delvina (Smith) Morrow has provided leadership in strategic thinking and community development for various organizations, ranging from the nonprofit sector, for-profit, life sciences and technology. Currently, she serves as the Director of Strategic and Community Initiatives with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is responsible for managing key external projects and initiatives relating to the redevelopment of the former Civic Arena, which will have a significant impact on the Lower Hill District and the Pittsburgh region. In her role, Morrow also oversees the organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, and serves as a liaison between the Penguins and various community, charitable and business organizations. Additionally, she is co-chair for the Pittsburgh Penguins Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.
Previously, Morrow directed programming and initiatives with the Pittsburgh Technology Council, as well as development and community engagement with the Pittsburg Life Sciences Greenhouse. She was the founding Board President for feminist marker space, Prototype. In 2017, she was named to the Pittsburgh Business Times’ inaugural class of its “30 Under 30” honorees. A graduate of the Leadership Pittsburgh LDI Class of 2018, Morrow was also recognized by The Incline as a “Who’s Next 2019: Technology” honoree.
She now serves as a board member of PUMP, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh and City Theatre Company, and is a member of the Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association’s Emerging Leadership Board. She resides in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood with her husband Chris and their cat Mufasa.
Joann Skinner is pursuing her J.D. at the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, currently applying for internships with the public defender’s office in the Albany, N.Y. region. She has served as a case manager at Schenectady Community Action Program, working with individuals facing challenges involving housing, mental health, childcare, public benefits, and employment.
Skinner has also served as a mentor for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in their Albany Field Office. She plans to pursue a career in public interest law. She studied abroad in Mendoza, Argentina, during her time at the Colleges, and graduated with a degree in Economics and Spanish & Hispanic Studies.
LaKisha N. Williams is the Assistant Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement for #DegreesNYC, a citywide Collective Impact initiative that focuses on educational equity. She represents Goddard Riverside in numerous professional organizations working to strengthen college counseling and improve access to higher education, including the Government Relations and Human Relations Committees of the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling, and as a member of the National College Attainment Network Policy Council and its Rapid Response Policy Team.
Williams serves on the recently founded Education Equity Alliance of New York. She represents #DegreesNYC on the CUNY Rising Alliance, a coalition of student groups, unions and organizations that advocate for students, faculty and staff and to stop the growing trend of state disinvestment in public institutions like the City University of New York. She also serves on the Steering Committee of the New York State Poor People’s Campaign, as well as on its Regional Coordinating and Faith Committees, where she organizes moral fusion direct action against systemic racism, poverty, militarism and ecological devastation.
Recently, Williams was honored with the United Neighborhood Houses Award for Achievement in Civic Advocacy in recognition of her social justice work. She is also the Youth and Young Adult Minister at the Antioch Baptist Church in Harlem. Williams holds a B.A. from William Smith and a master’s of divinity from the Union Theological Seminary of New York.