Yale Women Faculty Forum Unveils Portrait of Otelia Cromwell ’26 PhD, First African-American woman to earn a Yale PhD
As part of its mission, the Yale Women Faculty Forum is working alongside the Yale Public Arts Committee to increase the diversity of portraiture on campus. On September 21st, WFF unveiled a painted a portrait it had commissioned to honor Otelia Cromwell, the first African-American woman to receive a PhD from Yale University (1926). The portrait was painted by Jennifer Packer ’12 MFA, an assistant professor at Rhode Island School of Design. “Packer paints portraits with attention to the complexities of representation and the responsibilities of viewership. She is quoted, ‘It’s not figures, not bodies, but humans I am painting.’” Drawing upon the gospel lyrics, “You know my soul look back and wonder how did I make it over,” Vera Wells ’71 told Cromwell’s story, which includes being the first African American graduate of Smith College. To learn more, watch this compelling and powerful video produced by Smith College published on the WFF website.
Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson ’94 MPH, ’00 MD was the featured speaker for the Fall 2018 President’s Women of Yale Lecture Series.
Marta Moret ’84 MPH and Miko McGinty ’93, ’98 MFA reached out to a network of Native American Yale women alums and mentors, including Ashley Hemmers ’07, Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, Assistant Professor of American Studies and History, Anya Montiel ’18 PhD, and Kathleen Sleboda ’99 for speaker suggestions. Together, they recommended Dr. Nez Henderson.
In his opening remarks, President Salovey noted that the women alums who have spoken in this lecture series "represent the very best of the coeducation of Yale." This lecture was especially powerful. You can watch the video here. What you can't see in the video is the audience. Many of the attendees were students from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Dr. Nez Henderson connected with them in a transformational way: many leaned forward in their seats to catch every word, and their heads often nodded in agreement. The unexpected evidence of this connection was the several times students snapped their fingers in appreciation of her words – snapping is the new clapping!
- Mindy A. Marks '00, AYA Director for Shared Interest Groups, produces the President's Women of Yale Lecture Series.
Many women alums don’t realize that YaleWomen has chapters outside the United States, but we do! We currently have chapters in China, France, Hong Kong, London, and Ontario!
Karen Go ’99 is one of the founders of YaleWomen London. She recently shared its “origin story” as well as details about past and upcoming activities.
Q: What inspired you to found YaleWomen London?
A: Several years ago, I attended a European leadership event that AYA hosted in Rome. Mark Dollhopf, then the executive director of AYA, talked about how alums could make a real difference in connecting alums by volunteering their time with Yale. I talked with other alums who had carved out a little space for Yale alums to come together in their respective countries. Some were small groups – three or four alums – who sometimes got together. Others – like London – would engage larger groups of 50 to 60 alums. This inspired me! I returned home to London to see how I could become more involved. I’d been working with the Yale Club of London in a variety of capacities, including interviewing. Clearly there was a need for a YaleWomen chapter! It just needed someone to take the lead. The Yale Club of London gave its full support, and I talked with other volunteer leaders both in London and when I was back in New Haven for Assembly and my 15th Reunion. We hosted our event about 4 years ago – a social event at the home of Renata Cesar ’79 (Renata developed and chairs the Yale International Alliance, which – like YaleWomen – is an AYA Shared Interest Group). More than 90 Yale women alums attended! This confirmed that there was certainly a desire and an unfulfilled need to create a women’s network.
Q: What type or range of events does YaleWomen London typically host?
A: Like many YaleWomen chapters, we host a variety of events, some small and some large, including an annual social at Renata’s home. One of our signature events is a book group that has met monthly for almost two years – we try to introduce Yale writers into the mix of books. We’ve hosted alum leaders, including Weili Cheng ’77, executive director of AYA, when she visited London. When Joan O’Meara Winant ’73 (one of the YaleWomen NYC chapter heads) and Patti Russo, executive director of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale were en route to Oxford, we were able to host them in a robust discussion about women in politics – it’s a universal issue!
Q: Are there other ways, beyond what's posted on the calendar of the YaleWomen website, for alums to reach you and learn more about your events, e.g., a Facebook page?
A: We do have a YaleWomen London Facebook page [hyperlink https://www.facebook.com/groups/786605804718884/] -- check it out! Alums can email Alice Shyy ’08 and me – we’re co-chapter heads -- at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
A: Watch the calendar on the YaleWomen website for information a social event we will host in October – at Renata’s home – that will highlight Women’s Wellness and will feature Victoria Stainsby ’87 and Justine Lutterodt ’01.
Thank you to Karen and our other international chapter leaders for taking the lead in building a vibrant community of international women alums!
Photo L-R: Renata Cesar '79, Weili Cheng '77, Karen Go '99
This summer, an early 50 Women at Yale 150 initiative launched at Manuscripts and Archives. Funded anonymously and conducted under the umbrella of the 50 Women at Yale 150 Steering Committee, two doctoral students worked with Yale University Archivist Michael Lotstein on an annotated research guide about coeducation.
Sarah Pickman, a doctoral student in the Department of History, and Brent Salter, a doctoral student at Yale Law School, examined more than forty-six collections, took meticulous notes, and determined which material was best suited for the research guide. The results of their work will be published online with the University Library's research guides: https://guides.library.yale.edu/?b=s. According to Lotstein, the guide will help all students and researchers to “zero in on specific documents of interest.” He also noted that this research guide will be unique in its comprehensiveness, depth, and scale.
Immediate beneficiaries of this subject guide will be students in both–Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools–who have shown an increased research interest in coeducation in America over the past several years. This renewed study of coeducation has attracted students in many departments, including Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Lotstein noted that it was “serendipitous to have the need arise and to also have the generous support of the Steering Committee.”
The research guide will be available in the Spring of 2019, just as 50 Women at Yale 150 programming is increasing, and in time for what we anticipate will be an even greater scholarly interest in coeducation. We hope that this is just the start of our Yale women alums’ engagement with Yale’s archives.
We will be reporting on this and other projects of the celebration year; stand-by for further updates.
- Miko McGinty ’93, ’98 MFA
Transforming the world.
This is the third leg of YaleWomen's bold vision, which emerged in 2013 following our inaugural conference. Five years later, this call to action remains a tall order. Consider the rich diversity of thought and perspective that the now more than 10,000 Yale women alums who have opted in bring to bear on the work of YaleWomen. Consider the increasingly complicated world in which we live and work, and to which we all bring the responsibility of our Yale education and experience, whether Yale College or the Graduate & Professional Schools.
YaleWomen is pushing into the why of all that we do—our purpose and beliefs—to connect Yale women alums and amplify their voices, in this e-newsletter and in our webinars and chapters. You lead demanding personal and professional lives. YaleWomen has to compete to find a place in your why. If we're doing our job right, "Transforming the world" will always be a tall order. We're bolstering our response to this call to action by broadening our guiding themes of "Connect" and "Voice" to include "Parity." Watch for more news about how this will be put into practice.
Please join YaleWomen in celebrating and telling the stories of Yale women. Let us hear from you, in our Facebook group or by email to email@example.com. Our thanks for all you do!
Susan E. Lennon ’85 MPPM
In 2011, when YaleWomen was envisioned, it was a “big idea.” Now in our 8th year, the why that drives, informs, and shapes the work in which this community of Yale women alums engages – Connectivity, Voice, and Parity – is increasingly important. You made possible everything we did during the past year. We are grateful for your generous support – your time, talent, and treasure.
Every time you opened one of the four quarterly enewsletters we published and clicked on a link, it mattered.
Every time you registered for one of the three webinars we produced, it mattered. (At Assembly, AYA recognized the success of our webinar series with a Leadership Award!)
Every time you engaged in the inclusive, vibrant, respectful and meaningful exchanges on our Facebook group, it mattered.
Every time you joined with other Yale women alums at events hosted by one of 20+ chapters around the world, it mattered.
Every charitable gift you made in response to our annual appeal – no matter the size – mattered.
This year, as we continue to build on these signature initiatives, we will also celebrate the YaleWomen Award for Excellence, for both Lifetime Achievement and Impact. Watch for more news about this and Events Beyond Yale in conjunction with 50 Women at Yale 150. Because of you, it all matters!
Meet the women behind YaleWomen! Click here to learn all about them: who they are, what they do; where they live; and which Yale alums they would invite to lunch.
Saloni Rao ’20 is president of the Yale College Council this academic year, the first woman in a decade to helm the undergraduate student government. While the YCC has been around since 1972, only a few women have served as president. The last female YCC president was Rebecca Taber ’08, who is on the YCC Board of Trustees and who recently founded an educational nonprofit, Merit America.
What motivated you to run for YCC president?
I’ve been involved with the YCC since I stepped foot on campus my first year, and I saw that a lot of things about both Yale and the YCC organization could be better. Running for YCC president, to me, was the best way I could realize this potential for change.
What was the most challenging part of your campaign?
It was a massive personal challenge. On the Thursday when voting officially opened, I must have cried about fifteen times; I’d say campaigning was the worst week of my life. It’s a lot of stress, managing a campaign and the people running it, and I knew it was part of what I was signing up for, but I was not fully prepared for how personal the election would get. When you run on a campus-wide platform, you open yourself to all kinds of criticism, whether it’s about the way you look or something else. To most people on campus during the election, you’re seen as a figure running for a position, not a student or a fellow Yalie. Of course, since then, it’s been more than worth it.
What is the most gratifying part of your role in the YCC?
When we make changes or advocate for change as a Council, students recognize that their voices can be heard. Often, they feel that speaking up for change on campus falls on deaf ears and that there’s no real channel for change. We want to make the YCC more accessible this year. We want students to realize that speaking to a YCC representative about something leads to real change on campus. For example, someone reached out to me over the summer about the fact that people don’t really know how to use Excel in the workplace during their summer internships and asked if we could have a workshop to teach these skills. Now, we’re getting Excel workshops in the spring for anyone interested in strengthening that skill. It’s gratifying to show students that they can ask for something and we can do our best to get it done. Still, there are a few things within our purview and it’s up to students to speak up: progress is a two-way street.
On a more personal note, it’s been important for me to be a mentor to younger students. The responsibility that older students take to help younger students – something that attracted me to Yale in the first place – is one I’ve taken personally by being a mentor to younger women. Part of why a lot of women don’t run for YCC president is because they don’t see people like themselves in those roles. While I can’t put my finger on it, there’s an internal YCC culture that is prohibitive to women running for these positions in many ways. To address this, we’re planning internal YCC women events to gear up more women to run for these roles in the spring.
Briefly describe your main goals and campaign initiatives for your year as president.
YCC Vice President Heidi Dong and I – we both served on the executive board last year – ran on a three-pronged platform.
First, the YCC was not seen as a voice for students, it was just seen as the YCC that wasn’t really representative of the Yale student body. Our campaign featured extensive YCC internal reform, including turning one governing body into two, much like the US legal system, with a senate and a council of representatives. Our senate will work on policy change and consist of two representatives from each residential college, and our council will convene student group leaders so that all students at Yale feel represented. Currently, the YCC is missing athletes and students of color, so this aims to bring together different perspectives from across Yale.
The two other big items are sexual assault reporting and mental health resources, which are extremely complex issues and therefore haven’t been tackled in the past. In addition, we want to take action on financial aid changes, and are working on a number of one-off projects.
What are some changes to Yale student life that the YCC has enacted recently?
We’re working with the Yale Dems and some other groups to increase voter registration among Yale students for the upcoming midterm election by securing funding for Turbogo, a software that auto-registers university students for voting. We’ve also partnered with different offices, including the Office of Career Services, to bring a few different workshops to campus in the late fall and spring geared towards career and postgraduate opportunities, as well as pre-law resources and first-year specific courses.
What is something most people don't understand about the YCC? Is there a common misconception you'd like to clear up about your role?
A common misconception is that the YCC doesn’t really function for students and has a hard time making actionable changes. While this is true in certain areas, I think if students buy into the mission of the YCC and believe in what we’re capable of, there will be real synergistic change on campus. Furthermore, the YCC is seen as a more legitimate body in the administration’s eyes if the student body participates and contributes to our initiatives. Increasing the legitimacy of the YCC through student participation ultimately increases our potential to make improvements.
What do you believe is the most problematic thing about the Yale undergraduate experience that needs fixing?
On the surface it seems like all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at Yale, a mentality that Yale markets to prospective students. It’s not true: the university needs to do a better job to help everyone get on a level playing field.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind as the YCC's first female president since Rebecca Taber ’08?
I hope to leave behind a legacy of the YCC being perceived as a legitimate organization. On a more personal front, I want to champion the notion that a woman can take on this position of high leadership – in the YCC but also in any organization inside or outside of Yale – and do just as good a job as anyone who came before her, if not better.
- Veena McCoole ’19
“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).
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.”
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 yalewomen.org.
Learn more about the upcoming celebration of women at Yale at celebratewomen.yale.edu.
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.
YaleWomen Global Newsletter | June 2018
- Chair's Letter
- YaleWomen Thanks Outgoing Council Members and Welcomes Incoming Council Members
- The 50 Women at Yale 150 Logo
- Seeking Mentors for Tsai CITY at Yale
- Yale Alumni Association Hosts Breakfasts for Women Alums at Reunions
- Black Women, Beauty and Perception
- YaleWomen Webinar Inspires Action to Combat Gender Bias in the Workplace
- Women and the Yale Corporation