Bryn Mawr College Community Comes Together to Host 2013 WPSP Institute

Posted July 25th, 2013 at 2:49 pm.

In hosting the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) Institute 2013, Bryn Mawr College drew on members from every part of its community – faculty, staff, students, and alumnae – to make the gathering a memorable and invaluable experience for the 43 delegates who participated in the Institute.

Planning for the Institute began more than a year ago and was spearheaded by Secretary of the College Ruth Lindeborg '80, who hired and worked with Institute Director Jessica Berns to create and organize the two weeks of programming that made up the Institute.

“It’s been wonderful to see so many from throughout the Bryn Mawr community come together to make this Institute a success. I’m especially grateful to the many alumnae who brought such a wealth of experience and expertise and enabled us to create a truly powerful program,” said Lindeborg, whose history with the WPSP goes back to its creation in 2011, when she was named to the WPSP steering committee. “Putting something like this together isn’t easy but the potential rewards are tremendous. As the women attending this Institute go out and make their mark on the world, Bryn Mawr’s community can be proud of the contribution it made in their leadership development.”

For Berns, the Institute was her introduction to Bryn Mawr.

“I come from an NGO background, but I’ve also spent time working with university-based programs,” Berns said. “Our Institute aimed to facilitate knowledge sharing, networking, and collaboration between those sectors. Fortunately, Bryn Mawr has both amazing faculty and an incredible network of alumnae out in the field, dedicated to women’s empowerment, peace, and social justice.”

Faculty members who participated in the Institute included Political Science Professors Michael Allen and Marissa Golden, and Interim Provost Mary Osirim, all of whom served on the Institute planning committee and who each developed an entire day of programming around their academic expertise. Other faculty members who participated included Political Science Chair Carol Hager, GSSWSR Assistant Professor Cindy Sousa, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Erika Marquez.

“I feel very strongly about the need for greater empowerment of women worldwide and particularly in the Global South,” said Osirim, much of whose research has focused on women and development in sub-Saharan Africa. “We’re at a critically important moment in terms of globalization where the input and voices of women leaders can really create tremendous change. To be able to work with these women and help guide their development as leaders is something many academics don’t get to do and something I’m honored to be a part of.”

In addition to Lindeborg and Berns, Bryn Mawr staff participating in the Institute included Associate Director of Communications Alyssa Banotai and planning committee members Vanessa Christman, assistant dean and director of leadership and community development, and Senior Advisor for Internationalization Susan Buck Sutton.

“Creating curriculum for delegates from so many different nations and cultures was a new challenge," said Christman, who was a member of the program planning committee. "In addition to drawing on my leadership development work with Bryn Mawr students, it was great to partner with people like Tabi Haller Jorden '79--and to draw on the expertise of the delegates themselves. I hope that they got as much from the experience as I did.”

Maddy Bajoria ’13 was among the 10 recent graduates and current students that helped with the Institute.

“In many ways this was the perfect capstone of my studies,” said the international studies major. “We (the students) had to do a lot of the logistics and planning work during the year but it was all worth it these last two weeks as we got to meet and know the delegates and speakers. These women are so courageous and brave and also so professionally accomplished. This has been the perfect transition for me as I leave Bryn Mawr to pursue my own career.”

Interim President Kim Cassidy, who opened the Institute, introduced keynote speaker Hillary Rodham Clinton, and attended many of the sessions, expressed her gratitude for the job done by everyone involved in her inaugural blog post.

"I couldn’t have been more proud of Bryn Mawr’s participation in this institute and for the truly outstanding program we put on. It was quite an event to have happen in the first two weeks of a presidency. I am particularly grateful to Jane McAuliffe, President Emeritus of Bryn Mawr College, for her wisdom in knowing what an important partnership this would turn out to be and for her determination to make it a reality. I am also grateful to Ruth Lindeborg who provided both the vision and the management talent to make the institute an incredible success. Bryn Mawr’s support of women’s advancement and our contribution to the goal of 50 by 50 is something for which we should all be proud."

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