While continuing the tradition of honoring the outstanding achievements of William Smith students during the annual Celebrating Excellence dinner, this year William Smith College joined with the national leadership from the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) to celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary.
During the event, the William Smith Laurel Society, the honor society for sophomores and juniors, inducted its newest members who are selected for their contributions to the HWS and Geneva community and having demonstrated a strong commitment to academics. They included: Leland E. Barclay ’20, Daphna Bendull ’21, Mallory A. Burrall ’21, Allison E. Carroll ’20, Madeline E. Conroy ’20, Emma J. Consoli ’20, Katherine J. Consoli ’20, Alexandra A. Curtis ’20, Bridget Daugherty-Costa ’21, Shreeya S. Desai ’21, Emma K. Falkenstein ’21, Kathleen Herlihy Gearan ’21, Claire S. Joshi ’21, Sophie M. Kaufman ’20, Ellis Linsmith ’20, Sarah L. Marino-Babcock ’20, Chandni K. Patel ’20, Kelsey N. Pierce ’20, Sophie P. Ritter ’20, Hannah J. Rolfe ’21, Olivia A. Rowland ’21, Allie M. Seminer ’20, Carly E. Shiever ’21, Shannon K. Smith ’20, Amelia T. Smith ’21, Meredith Steinfeldt ’20, Sheila Uria Veliz ’21, Katherine Vangaever ’21 and Margaret S. Wagner ’21.
The event featured remarks from two top women from PLEN’s national leadership including Executive Director Sarah Bruno, who previously served as chief operating officer at the Truman National Security Project & Center for National Policy and has been named one of Nonprofit HR’s “7 Inspiring Nonprofit Women to Watch in 2018;” and Board Chair Ellie Shaw who currently serves as director of federal government affairs for the American Express Company. Rose Cherubin ’15, senior assistant director of admissions and multicultural recruitment for Hobart and William Smith Colleges, also spoke. Cherubin holds the William Smith record of having attended the most PLEN conferences; she went to three Washington, D.C. conferences.
The combined celebration was held on Thursday, Feb. 21 in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.
Since 2011, William Smith College has been an institutional member college of PLEN, sending almost 200 students to attend its leadership seminars in Washington, D.C. each year. Most recently Alexandra Devito ’21, Hannah Patterson ’22, Megan Rooney ’21, Olivia Rowland ’21 and Katherine Vangaever ’21 attended a PLEN “Women in Public Policy” seminar during winter break. On campus, the increased engagement of students allowed for a PLEN theme house to be established at 583 South Main St. this academic year.
PLEN touts its standing as the only national organization with the sole focus of preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena. Every year, PLEN brings hundreds of women students from colleges and universities across the country to Washington, D.C. to experience firsthand how public policy is shaped and implemented at the national level. After participating in PLEN, students are better prepared to become the next generation of public policy decision makers.
William Smith Dean Lisa Kaenzig P’22, who recently completed her term as PLEN’s board chair, is celebrating her 30th anniversary with PLEN, having attended while she was an undergraduate at Rutgers University.
“PLEN provides a space for women in Washington, D.C., to access the halls of power and help each other move into careers in public policy,” says Kaenzig. “PLEN is about more than advocating and creating policies for women. It is fundamentally about increasing women’s representation.”
Additional Background on the Speakers:
Prior to serving as PLEN’s executive director since 2016, Bruno consulted with nonprofit organizations to help them improve their operations and fundraising strategies. From 2010 through 2015, Bruno served as the chief operating officer at the Truman National Security Project & Center for National Policy, where she was responsible for the overall day-to-day operations and human resource management of the organization. She previously served as the organization’s director of development. Bruno has also served as the national development director at America Votes and as a development writer at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Before coming to Washington, Bruno worked as development coordinator at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center in Cambridge, Mass. A lifelong feminist and advocate for social justice, she holds a master’s degree in macro social work from Boston University and a B.A. in anthropology with a women’s studies concentration from Haverford College. She volunteers on the board of the Washington Internship Institute and sings with the Congressional Chorus.
As director of federal government affairs for the American Express Company, Shaw is responsible for the American Express’ political education and involvement programs including its political action committee (PAC) and grassroots efforts. During her time at American Express, she has doubled the annual receipts for AXP PAC while enhancing the company’s federal compliance policy, training and filing requirements. Previously, Shaw served as manager of public affairs at Exelon Corporation in Chicago. During her tenure at Exelon, the company received the National Energy Institute’s Robert K. Campbell Award for excellence in its congressional relations program on nuclear energy issues, and was recognized by the Edison Electric Institute with the first Excellence in Advocacy Award. She currently co-chairs PAC PALS, serves on the board for the Public Affairs Council, and is a member of Women in Government Relations. In 2008, Shaw received the inaugural Public Affairs Council Volunteer of the Year Award. Shaw holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Luther College. In 2015, PLEN established the Ellie Shaw Scholarship, which is open to all students, with preference given to Luther students. She has completed the Public Affairs Council’s Public Affairs Institute program, the Public Affairs Council’s certificate in PAC and Grassroots, and the American Express & Harvard Certificate in Leadership Excellence.
At Hobart and William Smith, Cherubin is one of the regional representatives for New York City, serves as the HEOP liaison for the Office of Admissions and sits on the search committee for the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. While a student at the Colleges, she held many leadership positions and sat on committees comprised of faculty, staff and students. She was a member of the Laurel Society and Hai Timiai. Rose studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark where she did research surrounding human trafficking and sex workers. Rose graduated from William Smith College with a B.A. in public policy (with a focus on at-risk populations) and a minor in anthropology.