Reimagining Alumni Relations Made YaleWomen Possible

“The reimagination of alumni relations made YaleWomen possible.”

A conversation with three remarkable Yale women volunteers.

Maureen Doran ’71 MSN, Nancy Stratford ’77, and Ellen McGinnis ’82 have all achieved a notable trifecta in Yale alum relations: they’re all founding members of YaleWomen, they’ve all served (or are serving) as chair of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) Board of Governors, and they’re all recipients of the Yale Medal.  Jennifer Madar ’88 recently sat down for a conversation with these inspiring women to learn more about them; their service to the alum community; and their thoughts on the past, present, and future as Yale approaches the 50th anniversary of undergraduate coeducation and the 150th anniversary of Graduate & Professional Schools coeducation.  Here are some of the key takeaways and excerpts from their conversation.


Planting the seed

YaleWomen’s founding was in many ways inspired by a conference that the AYA hosted in 2004 entitled “Yale Women in a Changing World.”  Approximately 300 women alums attended this very well-received conference. 

Nancy:  There were women who had never come back [to Yale] for an event, but they came back for this because they wanted to connect with other Yale women. And one woman who had come back for events in the past said this was one of the best she’d ever been to.

Another milestone was the launch of a new AYA strategic plan in 2008.  Developed under Ellen’s leadership, the new plan’s objective was “to build communities of Yale alumni across all lines – school affiliation, geographic area, interest and identity groups – and engage more effectively in service to Yale.”

Maureen:  Having women in leadership positions has really given AYA has given a different point of view. We’ve really added to and enriched the alumni experience.

Also significant was AYA’s hosting of the Celebrating Yale Women: 40 Years in Yale College, 140 Years at Yale conference in 2010.


Listening and learning

The 2004 conference, 2008 strategic plan, and 2010 conference were followed by listening sessions in New Haven, New York City, and Washington, DC.  Led by Ellen and Nancy, these listening sessions confirmed that women alums had a strong interest in connecting with one another.   They also identified specific areas of interest for women alums:  social, career, lifelong learning, community service, and philanthropy.

Maureen: I really want to thank Ellen and Nancy for their persistence, both in terms of thinking and execution.

Ellen:  Whenever we would ask, people said, yes, they wanted [a Shared Interest/Identity Group for women alums].  People wanted it, we wanted it, and we felt we could make a difference for the University and the world [by starting YaleWomen].

The next step was a retreat in 2011 that led to the development of YaleWomen’s strategic plan and incorporation as a 501(c)(3).


Overcoming skepticism

YaleWomen’s founding was not without its detractors.  Yale was initially quite leery about the prospect of a Shared Interest Group for women alums.

Maureen:  There was definitely a concern early on that YaleWomen would turn into … a small group of people who were focused exclusively on themselves.

Ellen: [The administration] also thought that [YaleWomen] would dilute interest in already established Yale groups.

In fact, YaleWomen had the opposite effect, bringing in alums who had not been engaged or felt welcomed by other Yale groups, including alums from the Graduate & Professional Schools.


Making it happen

YaleWomen was founded while Ellen was chair of the Board of Governors and Nancy was chair of the Alumni Fund. 

Ellen: [The founding of YaleWomen] was really all about timing.  We came in at a point where there was a really strong relationship between alumni leaders [Nancy and me].”

It was also founded at a time when Yale was starting to put more emphasis on inclusiveness and outreach, including to the Graduate & Professional Schools, and shifting its focus from how Yale wanted to connect with alums to how alums wanted to connect with Yale.

Ellen:  The reimagination of alumni relationships made YaleWomen possible.


Looking back . . .

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of undergraduate coeducation and the 150th anniversary of graduate coeducation at Yale.  The university-led 50 Women at Yale 150 celebration will start in the fall of 2019 with a reunion of the women who matriculated together as undergraduates in 1969.  It will conclude in the fall of 2020 with a convocation of all women alums, undergraduate, graduate, and professional.  There’ll be a wealth of programming in between, and Ellen is playing an active role as one of the chairs of the Events Beyond New Haven committee.

Ellen: Right now, we’re focusing on the reunion in the fall of 2019, and we’re also working on   getting the word out [about 50 Women at Yale 150].  We know that people will engage once we get the word out.


. . . and looking forward

What does the future hold for YaleWomen and, more generally, women alums?  Programming that is timely, topical, and relevant to all women alums, regardless of their Yale and life experiences.

Nancy: Great work is happening at the chapter level, where we continue to develop and provide a range of programming to appeal to the many diverse interests of Yale women.

One thread that will run through all of YaleWomen’s programming going forward is “putting parity into practice.”


Getting involved

Maureen, Nancy, and Ellen have blazed the trail for the next generation of women volunteer leaders, but they’re the first to acknowledge that there’s still a lot to be done.  Please join us in thanking Maureen, Nancy, and Ellen for their efforts on behalf of the alum community!  And please join us in our ongoing efforts to support and celebrate women alums!

Learn more about YaleWomen at

Learn more about the upcoming celebration of women at Yale at


About Maureen, Nancy, Ellen, and Jennifer

Maureen Doran ‘71 MSN was chair of the AYA Board of Governors from 2000 to 2002 and a founding member of YaleWomen.  She is a 2005 recipient of the Yale Medal.

Nancy Stratford ‘77 is the current chair of the AYA Board of Governors and a founding member of YaleWomen.  She was vice chair of YaleWomen in its first year and is a founding and current chapter head of YaleWomenNYC.  She is a 2012 recipient of the Yale Medal. 

Ellen McGinnis ‘82 was chair of the AYA Board of Governors from 2008 to 2010 and chair of YaleWomen from its founding in 2011 to 2014.  She is a 2012 recipient of the Yale Medal.

Jennifer Madar ‘88 is the current vice chair of YaleWomen and a member of the AYA Board of Governors.

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YaleWomen Global Newsletter | June 2018

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YaleWomen Thanks Outgoing Council Members & Welcomes Incoming Council Members

The time, talent, and passion of many alums make the good work of YaleWomen possible – at the chapters level, in this enewsletter, through webinars, and on social media. As the 2017-2018 year draws to a close, we are especially grateful to Council members whose terms of service are coming to an end, including Elisa Spungen Bildner ’75, Erin Endean ’80, ’82 MA, and Ming Min Hui ’10, who have served on the Council from the very beginning, helping to create a solid infrastructure that we continually build upon, as well as Toni Perry ’82 and Denise Stevens ’95 PhD. They leave with our heartfelt thanks and best wishes.

As YaleWomen’s visibility and reputation have grown, so, too, has interest in serving on the Council. This year, we had an especially deep pool of talent to draw on. We are thrilled to announce the results of this year’s election for Council members and officers, for terms that will begin July 1st (* indicates current Council members who have been re-elected for successor terms):

Chieko Barry ’84 JD 
Ursula Burton ’88* 
Kee Chan ’07 PhD 
Laura Grondin ’85* 
Rose Jia ’07 
Susan E. Lennon ’85 MPPM* 
Stephanie Yu Lim ’00* 
Dana Allen Sands ’83 
Belinda Wu ’15 MPH

Susan Lennon, Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88, Sue Pepin ’87 and Laura Grondin have been elected to serve as chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer, respectively.

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Yale Alumni Association Hosts Panel Discussion on Black Women, Beauty, and Perception

Pictured above, from left to right: Tia Williams, Copy Director at Bumble and bumble, Novelist, Creator of Shake Your Beauty; Alexis McGill-Johnson ’95 MA, Executive Director, The Perception Institute; Jemina Bernard ’97, Executive Director, Young Women’s Leadership Network; Robinne Lee, Author and Actress; Dr. Scyatta Wallace ‘96, Psychologist and Writer; and Mindy A. Marks ’00, Director for Shared Interest Groups

On May 22nd, Mindy A. Marks ‘00, Director for Shared Interest Groups at the Yale Alumni Association, in collaboration with Dr. Scyatta Wallace ‘96, hosted a powerful panel discussion focused on black women, beauty, and perception. Various topics were explored, including images presented in media and how they impact black women and girls, as well as research relating to the unconscious biases we possess as women in our interactions with one another. This event is the first is a series of Perception programming. Click here to view the video of the panel discussion. For questions about this event and future perception programs, please contact Mindy A. Marks at [email protected].

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Support YaleWomen

“This is why we do what we do.”

But we can’t do it without you. YaleWomen – through our enewsletters, webinars, chapters, social media, conferences and symposia, and even at the breakfasts at Yale College reunions – connects Yale women alums of the College and the Graduate & Professional Schools and amplifies our voices. Our volunteers possess a vast array of experience and expertise, and they invest countless hours to produce these outcomes. They also ensure that the technology platforms that bring you our website, enewsletter, and webinars work, and that the federal and state filings required by our 501(c)(3) status are done. 

If you value our work, please consider making a charitable donation to YaleWomen. We are an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3), no-dues organization, and we deeply appreciate charitable gifts of any size. You can donate online at or by sending a check to YaleWomen, Inc., 206 Elm Street, Box #2196, New Haven, CT 06520-2196.  With your support, we will continue to build an organization of informed, engaged, and dedicated Yale women who have so much to share with the world and with each other! A gift to YaleWomen may also qualify for your employer’s Matching Contributions plan.

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Women and the Yale Corporation

Back in April, alums received an email from Yale reminding us to vote in the Yale Corporation’s Alumni Fellow Election. Two candidates – both male – were put forth, which prompted many of us to ask: what has been the role of women on the Yale Corporation? If you were or are curious, here are some facts:

  1. There are seventeen trustees, including the president of Yale. This past year, there were seven women trustees on the Corporation. Click here to learn more about them.
  2. The first female trustee to be elected by alums to the Corporation was Marian Wright Edelman ’63 LLB, ’85 LLDH, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund. She served on the Corporation from 1971 to 1977. Click here to learn more about Marian Wright Edelman.
  3. In the history of the Yale Corporation, a total of 27 women have served on the Corporation, out of a total of 91 trustees.
  4. One of the current trustees, Eve Rice ’73, was in the first coeducational freshman class and is a founding member of YaleWomen.
  5. In the September 2017 issue of this newsletter, YaleWomen interviewed Yale Corporation member and president and CEO of Boston Medical Center Kate Walsh ’77, ’79 MPH. Read her interview here.

For more on the Yale Corporation, click here.

For more about women on corporate boards, watch YaleWomen’s webinar “In Conversation: Access and Impact of Women on Corporate Boards.”

- Stephanie Yu Lim ’00, Chair, Communications Content Committee

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YaleWomen Webinar Inspires Action to Combat Gender Bias in the Workplace

Pictured: Lori Nishiura Mackenzie and Beth Axelrod ’89 MPPM

On May 18th, YaleWomen hosted its 6th webinar, this one entitled "Gendered Language and Blocking Bias in the Workplace."  Participants wrote in that the webinar inspired them to take action such as reviewing hiring practices; educating others to pay attention to their biases; being mindful of how women are evaluated; elevating female colleagues; re-examining job descriptions for gendered language; introducing women powerfully with results-driven language; and supporting concrete measures to address workplace bias.

The webinar was produced by Ursula Burton ’88 and Jennifer DeVore ’87, both of whom are members of the YaleWomen Council. Beth Axelrod ’89 MPPM, YaleWomen Vice Chair and Vice President of Employee Experience at Airbnb, moderated the conversation, which featured Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, Executive Director of Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research and co-founder of the new Stanford Center for Women’s Leadership. Axelrod and Mackenzie participated in the webinar live from the Airbnb offices in San Francisco. More than 500 female and male undergraduates, graduate students, alums, family, and friends from all over the world registered for the event, and many submitted questions throughout the webinar.

Part of the inspiration for the conversation, Axelrod explained, came from the questions that YaleWomen’s leadership was asking about the way gendered language was used to recognize the accomplishments of women. Gendered language alters girls’ and young women’s career aspirations, as we tend to associate leadership with typically male behavior. Sometimes, gender stereotypes unintentionally influence the words we choose. Through engaging discussion and an informative question-and-answer format, this webinar successfully examined how language and word choices shape perception and, ultimately, success.

Mackenzie integrated fascinating scientific research studies into her discussion of language shaping perception. “We make these gender associations in a millisecond,” she said, associations which vary when the same word is spoken by a man or by a woman. In the context of communication with children, Mackenzie said that girls are spoken to with a fixed mindset, whereas young boys receive messages aligned with a growth mindset. “From a very young age, we’re not schooling [girls] in the mechanism of problem-solving,” she explained.

Furthermore, Mackenzie highlighted the disparity between what we value and our perceptions. “The stereotype of men aligns with agency, but the stereotype of women aligns with communal language, the language of ‘we’,” she said. “Automatically, it’s easier for men to be perceived as leaders, even if they aren’t necessarily more agentic.” Mackenzie’s work examines the performance descriptions of men and women: women receive vague feedback and communal language in these reviews, whereas men receive clear, actionable, and specific feedback.

If you were unable to participate in this rich and thought-provoking conversation, we encourage you to tune into the webinar recording on YouTube here.

- Veena McCoole '19

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Yale College Women Alums at Yale Reunions

Yale women alums celebrating their reunions on campus this year had another great event to add to the long list of "official" reunion events: breakfasts hosted by the Yale Alumni Association for Yale College women alums on each of the reunion Saturdays (May 26th and June 2nd).  Women alums met at The Study at Yale to enjoy lively conversations with other alums, learn more about YaleWomen, and hear about the launch of 50 Women at Yale 150, celebrating the 50th anniversary of undergraduate coeducation and the 150th anniversary of the admission of women graduate and professional students to Yale. Mindy A. Marks ’00 showcased the fabulous 50 Women at Yale 150 “lux et femina” tee-shirt! The breakfasts provided an opportunity for women alums from across the world to meet, mingle, and network. Sarah Pearsall '93 summed up the experience beautifully with her words: “The breakfast was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the YaleWomen endeavors and new ways to get involved. I did not know much before the breakfast about what was happening in this area, and I was really glad to learn more. It was also a pleasure to chat informally with so many impressive Yale women from our class and others."

- Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88

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Seeking Mentors for Tsai CITY at Yale

Pictured: Wendy Maldonado D’Amico ’93 of TSAI CITY Mentoring

Pictured: Wendy Maldonado D’Amico ’93 of TSAI CITY Mentoring


Are you interested in providing your professional expertise to young innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs at Yale? If so, read on!

The new Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY) is actively recruiting women and people of color to join its mentor network. Launched in the fall of 2017, Tsai CITY has the mission to inspire and support students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to seek innovative ways to address real-world problems.

Our students are Yale undergraduates and graduate students who are starting businesses, organizations, and initiatives to make the world a better place. 

Project examples

Some examples of student initiatives for the summer include:

  • a crowdsourcing financial instrument to bring solar panels to low-income communities
  • a documentary film project showcasing alternative stories of black Americans
  • an agroforestry company importing Ethiopian honey
  • an aquaponics company
  • a nonprofit that integrates Muslim immigrants into American society
  • an app to connect local chefs to foodies to combat social isolation
  • a fashionable steel-toed boot for female engineers

Expertise needed

We are looking for mentors with expertise in specific industries and areas, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, fashion, food, finance, energy, international trade, nonprofit, social entrepreneurship, filmmaking, agriculture, sustainability, retail, cultural institutions, real estate, and more. 

We also need mentors with functional expertise in branding, marketing, finance, operations, intellectual property, leadership, venture capital, hiring, software engineering, big data, customer identification, product prototyping, organizational capacity-building, and startup experience, along with many other skills.

Mentor profile

Mentors should have specific expertise to offer, enjoy working with young people, and provide targeted, constructive feedback.


We will tailor the mentorship to your availability. You can offer a one-time “laser” coaching session; a conversation once a month by phone or video-conferencing; or meetings every two to three weeks.  

Mentors typically coach one team at a time. Mentors are carefully matched to student teams according to mentor expertise and team need. Each match is monitored for quality of interaction on both sides. 


All mentors are screened over the phone with a 30-minute interview before a match is considered. Mentors who pass the screening are invited to register in our mentor database.  If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact me at [email protected] to schedule an interview time. In the subject line of your email, please use “Tsai CITY Mentoring.” We look forward to hearing from you!

- Wendy Maldonado D'Amico '93


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Behind the Logo: 50 Women at Yale 150

50 Women at Yale 150 is thrilled to announce the launch of the logo, website, and initial plans for the 2019-2020 celebration of women at Yale. We invite the community of Yale women and friends to explore the website and use it as a resource.  Information and particularly the events calendar for 2019-2020  will be regularly updated at

In late winter 2017, President Salovey and Secretary Goff-Crews appointed Linda Koch Lorimer ’77 JD and Eve Rice ’73, to co-chair this University-wide celebration. During the last year, they have been coordinating plans across the University, meeting with deans, professors, and staff throughout Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools.  Along with Performances and Exhibitions Committee co-chairs Vera Wells ’71 and Amy Meyers ’85 PhD, they have met with representatives of Yale’s museums, libraries, collections, and musical and theatrical performance groups. Together, they have encouraged the development of programming at Yale during 2019-2020 featuring the history, accomplishments, and leadership of women. The Events Beyond New Haven Committee, co-chaired by Ellen McGinnis ’82 and Sheryl Carter Negash ’82 with Beverly Jurenko ’86 serving as deputy chair, will encourage alums to plan off-campus events that tie into the celebration.

I was honored to design the logo for 50 Women at Yale 150 with my colleague Rebecca Sylvers ’15. We used the Yale typeface and the new Mallory typeface, first designing concepts which we presented to Linda, Eve and the steering committee for feedback. We further refined the concepts based on feedback received from University Printer and Yale School of Art Senior Critic John Gambell ’81 MFA and from renowned type designer, type design teacher, and Yale School of Art Critic Tobias Frere-Jones. Rebecca and I finalized the logo, created a style guide for its use, and then worked with Campus Customs to create bags, hats, mugs, and tee-shirts. The tee-shirts and mugs both feature the less formal tagline "lux et femina" on the back and are available at Campus Customs.

During reunions we invited a wonderful group of emissaries to join us in publicizing and talking about the project. At each reunion, they gave away lanyards and buttons. Thank you to our marvelous emissaries: Eve Rice ’73, Maria Lopez Bresnahan ’78, Kyle Gibson ’78, Alix James ’83, Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88, Ursula Burton ’88, Ilona Emmerth ’98, Jennifer Stout ’03, Erin Johnson ’08, and Jessica Ruck ’13.

Also during reunions this year, 50 Women at Yale 150 launched an oral history  project, led by Executive Producer Kyle Gibson ’78 and facilitated by Mindy A. Marks ’00, to interview the first undergraduate women at Yale. The first classes of women in Yale College –  ’71, ’72, and ’73 –  all arrived on campus together in September 1969. The 45th reunion weekend for the Class of ’73 presented a wonderful opportunity to film the first of these videos:  twenty ’73 women alums were interviewed by Carol Whitehead ‘72, Kyle Gibson, and Tina Babarovic, head of Video and Production at the Office of Public Affairs and Communications at Yale. Karin Shedd '16 ran one of the cameras and assisted with interviews.   Filming of women in the first three classes will continue throughout the coming year.

We look forward to reporting further news in this year leading up to the celebration in 2019-2020.


- Miko McGinty ’93, ’98 MFA

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