The inaugural William Smith @ Work conference offers a weekend of events culminating with a series of speakers, panels, interactive career sessions and leadership development workshops with William Smith alumnae from a range of industries, backgrounds and generations.
“Our alumnae are an amazing network of resources, support and mentorship and help students explore a wide array of career fields and occupations,” says Brandi Ferrara, director of the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education and organizer of the conference.
Designed to support William Smith students — and first-years in particular — as they discover and explore career possibilities and leadership potential, “the conference is a unique opportunity to celebrate our talented, accomplished alumnae while allowing current students to benefit from their depth of experiences,” says William Smith Dean Lisa Kaenzig P’22. “The century-long tradition of women opening doors for other women, across many generations of William Smith students and alumnae, continues with this new conference. The collaborative energy and teamwork of multiple offices on campus is another excellent example for our students of the many ways in which women can work together to support each other.”
The conference begins on Saturday, Oct. 20, with industry panels in the arts, fashion, finance, law, nonprofits and education, sales and the sciences. Leadership and professional development sessions later in the morning will be followed by luncheon with a keynote address from Mehrnaz Vahid-Ahdieh ’85, P’17, a longtime leader in the financial industry. In the afternoon, industry panels continue, with sessions on communications, human resources, insurance, social justice and more, as well as a panel discussion with young alumnae. A networking reception that evening, hosted by the William Smith Dean’s Office and the Public Leadership Education Network, concludes the conference.
“WS@Work has been an extraordinary example of what’s possible when offices collaborate to create transformative experiences for our students,” says Amy Forbes, director of the Centennial Center. “I’m looking forward to the powerful array of panels, speakers, and sessions that really showcase our alumnae, which will allow our William Smith students time to examine their career paths and leadership potential.”
Associate Vice President of Advancement Kathy Killius Regan ’82, P’13 notes the conference is the culmination of a year of planning. “We’re looking at it as the ‘first annual.’ In addition to the Alumnae Association leadership, we have a highly engaged WS@Work alumnae steering committee who are organizing and networking in New York, Boston and plan to expand to other cities. The William Smith network is truly remarkable.”
In a prelude to the conference, the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice celebrates its 20th anniversary with a keynote lecture from Angela Davis, the internationally renowned activist, author and professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Davis’ talk on the future of feminism begins at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18 in the Vandervort Room in Scandling Campus Center.
On Friday, Oct. 19, the Colleges have organized a tour of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls in conjunction with the conference. It will be led by Betty Bayer, professor of women’s studies and president of the Board of the Hall. Those interested in participating should contact Kira Cosentino Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org, 315-781-3771.
The events have been coordinated with support from the the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, William Smith Athletics, and the Office of Alumnae Relations.