Women Break Record in the 2018 Midterm Elections

Image: The Class of 2018, Women’s Campaign School at Yale

On November 7, 2018, one hundred twenty-five women were elected to the US Congress, shattering the previous record. And this is just the beginning! Women, notably women of color, increased their representation at all levels of government – local, state, and federal. The Women’s Campaign School at Yale is proud that our graduates were a big part of this exciting new groundswell. We are grateful for your support, which helped make this possible.

As a non-partisan and issue-neutral non-profit, WCSYale is dedicated to creating a political pipeline for women on both sides of the aisle. At our one and five day trainings, we teach women the skills they need to successfully run for office, such as fundraising, targeting, scheduling, use of social media, outreach, and much more. For 25 years, we have been committed to this critical mission, and this year’s midterms show the astonishing results of our efforts.

For example, at the federal level, WCSYale alumna Kirsten Gillibrand of New York won re-election to the US Senate. Marsha Blackburn, a long-time faculty member of the School, won her Senate bid representing Tennessee, becoming the first woman elected to the US Senate in Tennessee’s history. In the House, alumna Lauren Underwood of Illinois became one of the youngest African-American women ever elected to Congress, as well as the first female representative for her district.

At the state and local levels, hundreds of women ran for office, many of whom were WCSYale alumnae. Winners include Democrat Jamie Scott, the youngest African-American woman to serve in the Arkansas House of Representatives, Holli Sullivan, returning Republican from the Indiana State House, and Sarah Godlewski, first-time candidate and now Wisconsin’s state Treasurer. Behind them were scores of alumnae supporting candidates in other roles, such as campaign management and field direction, which exemplifies how WCS alumnae are making a difference across the country, both at center stage and behind the scenes.

While the high-profile races were extremely important, women who ran for their local offices to effect real change for their communities were the unsung heroes of the midterm elections. WCSYale alumnae Sabrina Javellana and Jane Bolin, both newly-elected commissioners for their respective cities in Florida, saw an opportunity to make their districts better places and took it. Both are stellar examples of this trend. The local level is also where many women get their start in politics, honing their skills before they move to higher positions. WCSYale trains not only high-profile candidates, but also these exceptional women, who want to serve their communities as elected officials and need the tools to make it happen.

WCSYale’s reach extends far beyond the borders of the US. I recently traveled to Edinburgh and Durham in the United Kingdom to run one-day intensives, working with over 1,000 women. Each year, roughly 10% of our five-day training cohort joins us from abroad.

WCSYale prepares women of every age, race, political affiliation, socio-economic status, and background to run for office. The 2018 mid-term elections were a great start to a new trend. Let’s work together toward our shared goal of gender parity in elected leadership in our nation and our world and continue this surge in representation into 2019 and 2020. To learn more about the work we do year-round to accomplish this goal, visit our website.  

For more on women in politics, watch the YaleWomen webinar on “Women in Politics”.

- Patricia Russo, Executive Director, Women’s Campaign School at Yale

Kavanaugh Hearing Prompts an Apology Decades Later

Image: Sara Romeyn ’91

Recently, a message from a former Yale classmate popped up on Facebook. All of a sudden, it was 1990 again. I was a senior at Yale, fighting to be heard on a campus that had decided to allow women to enroll merely 20 years ago, a campus that was still dominated by “Old Blue” culture. During my time on campus, portraits and statues of white men loomed large while tenured female professors were few and far between. Many young women, myself included, felt like interlopers.

Nowhere was white male privilege more evident than on Lake Place, the home of Yale’s fraternity row. I never attended a fraternity party and was warned by fellow female friends to stay away from Delta Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, or SAE.

The message from my male classmate read, “With the ongoing SCOTUS mess, I was reminded of an article you wrote in 1990 or so about rape culture in fraternities. It’s what started our feud in the YDN. I’d like to read again what you wrote — as it seems you were right. While I was not personally aware of any specific incidents of sexual assault, what’s being discussed at the confirmation hearing was highly possible, as I was privy to the drunkenness and misogynistic culture on frat row.”

The “SCOTUS mess,” or Kavanaugh hearings, brought back a flood of memories for me as well, as I had recently searched for that same editorial in Yale’s digital archives. My column was a response to rush posters for SAE, juvenile flyers with slogans such as “don’t be a girly man” and magazine photos of half-naked women pulled from liquor or car advertisements. One poster included a timeline of the history of the bikini. I wrote in response, “I believe that they [the posters] perpetuate and promote negative and harmful stereotypes of women and men, and are offensive to women and men, and degrade rather than enhance the image of your organization.” I cited studies about the prevalence of sexual assaults at fraternities and suggested that “while I do not have statistics on assault or rapes at your fraternity…the tone of your posters makes it clear that the mood is right for such an event.”

My editorial, signed by 22 other women, ignited a battle in the News’ pages with a fraternity member who happened to be a cartoonist for the Yale Daily News. For months after, he drew me in an unflattering light and made inappropriate jokes at my expense. At the time, I was a staff columnist who frequently wrote about feminist issues — the shortage of tampon machines in women’s bathrooms (it was more common to find urinals), the role of women in the military, eating disorders and other topics, each time triggering a backlash in his various cartoons.

During that time, my column was part of my identity as a visible feminist leader on campus. For four years, I found a home at the Yale Women’s Center, took Women’s Studies classes, organized pro-choice marches, sexual assault speak-outs and “Take Back the Night” rallies. I spearheaded events to recognize the 20th anniversary of undergraduate coeducation at Yale and dedicated a research paper for my American Studies Seminar to the coeducation process. I met Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86 and shared my research. Lin had just been commissioned to design a memorial to honor the presence of women at Yale, now known as the Women’s Table.

Throughout my senior year, my feud with the cartoonist continued. Other women submitted letters to the editor asking the News to pull his cartoons. It wasn’t until graduation in May of 1991 that this battle came to an end. I have had little contact with this classmate since.

A few weeks ago, I returned to Yale for Family Weekend to visit my son, a first year. On Saturday, October 6, as the final confirmation vote for Justice Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 was taking place, I sought out Lin’s Women’s Table. Students had organized a vigil for survivors of sexual assault, covering the table with fresh flowers and surrounding it with chalk slogans that read “We Believe Survivors” and “We Love You.” Passersby added notes of support, completing the scene. I spent about half an hour there, helping with the chalk messages and speaking quietly with students. The vigil provided a sense of healing and closure as I reflected upon my own experiences as a young woman at Yale, experiences that were both private and public.

On the way home, I responded to my classmate and shared my original article regarding the SAE advertisements with him via Facebook messenger. I asked simply, “are you apologizing for the ways in which you publicly lampooned me in your cartoons?”

He said, “Yes, that’s an apology.”

Would that Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez ’87 and all survivors receive the same.

Sara Romeyn, PhD, graduated from Yale College in 1991. She currently resides in Potomac, Maryland where she is a teacher and administrator at an independent school. Contact her at sararomeyn@yahoo.com.

Sara Romeyn’s editorial was previously published in the October 24, 2018 issue of the Yale Daily News.  

YaleWomen Boston Brings Women and Men Together in Conversation About Women in Science, Physics and Black Holes

What does a scientist look like? A physicist, to be precise?

Like this!

Image: Professor Meg Urry and Tamar Mentzler ’97

On November 5th, YaleWomen Boston hosted Professor Meg Urry, the Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Yale and Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, in a conversation about women in science and black holes. Professor Urry is known for her efforts to increase the number of women in the physical sciences and was recognized for this work as a recipient of the 2010 Women in Space Science Award from the Adler Planetarium.

Dr. Tamar Mentzler ’97 BS Yale College, a PhD research scientist at Harvard, organized the event through a synergistic partnership with MIT’s Astrophysics Department and Graduate Women in Physics, a group formed to foster community among women in the department.  Mentzler was able to hold the event at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research thanks to this partnership.

More than thirty people attended, including a number of Professor Urry’s former Yale students, both women and men, as well as Yale women alums from across the sciences, and Yale women alums with non-science backgrounds.  Participants spanned class years, including a member of the class of 1971, the first class of women to graduate from Yale College. For some attendees, this was their first YaleWomen event. 

This Women in STEM event, which goes hand in glove with the themes of Connectivity, Voice, and Parity that drive YaleWomen’s work, struck a chord not only with women, but with several Yale men alums who attended, one with his young daughter. Another was drawn to the event because he is responsible for overseeing science departments and wants to ensure equitable practices.  

For Tamar, whose work has included building a community of women to take actions to redress the imbalance of women in science, coming to a deeper appreciation of the relevance of this topic to men and the importance of engaging them in YaleWomen’s work around Women in STEM was an unexpected outcome. As the date of the event approached, Tamar said, "I confess that as a physicist who is often the sole woman in many professional settings, I had a knee-jerk reaction to exclude men…(thinking about men who were interested in attending) has helped me think more critically about my stance…this is a conversation worth having." She noted the role men can play in addressing both a lack of awareness and implicit bias, as well as in creating circumstances, norms, and communities that are supportive of women.  

YaleWomen Boston hopes this will become an annual event, something Professor Urry supports. Tamar noted that one of Professor Urry’s many strengths is speaking to the issue of the scientific imbalance in gender and race. For future events, Tamar said she will “advertise more explicitly to men.  I think including men is crucial to realizing real change, and I believe there are men who are curious and care and might have attended if they were aware of the event.”

(This piece posted in the YaleWomen Facebook Group on March 16, 2018, noted that children’s stereotypes change as women’s and men’s roles change in society, and, as a result, they are more likely to draw a woman when asked to draw a scientist.)

Three Yale Women Alums Receive the Yale Medal

Image: Sheryl Carter Negash ’82; Margaret Hilary Marshall ’76 JD, ’12 LLDH; Lise Pfeiffer Chapman ’81 MBA

The Yale Medal is the highest honor presented by the Yale Alumni Association (YAA). Inaugurated in 1952, it is conferred annually to recognize and honor outstanding individual service to the university.  This year – for the first time ever – three women alums were awarded the Medal during the YAA Assembly and Alumni Fund Convocation in November.

Sheryl Carter Negash ’82

A committed ambassador for Yale, Negash has served as a member of the YAA Board of Governors and as a service, club, and shared interest group (SIG) leader. She began her volunteer service in 2009, organizing and leading a service trip with undergraduates on behalf of the Afro-American Cultural Center to promote higher education, work she has continued as part of the Higher Education Initiative. She also embraced the Yale Day of Service in 2009, going on to serve as a site coordinator and regional director, then as co-chair for the global event from 2015 to 2017. 

Negash has also been a leader in her local alumni community.   She served on the board of Yale Club of Los Angeles, and, as a member of the Alumni Schools Committee since 2010, she serves as regional director for the Southern California South Bay area, coordinating alumni interviews for prospective applicants and personally conducting 10 to 30 interviews annually.

She has been an active SIG volunteer as well. She was a member of the founding board of the Yale Black Alumni Association (YBAA), serving as a chapter leader, then as YBAA’s national president and chair. She was also a founding member of the YaleWomen Council and continues to serve as a non-Council member of the YaleWomen Award for Excellence Committee.

Negash joined the YAA Board of Governors in 2015 and from 2016 to 2018 served as co-chair of the YAA’s Alumni Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. She currently serves as co-chair for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale and has a leadership role planning the 50 Women at Yale 150 celebrations.


Margaret Hilary Marshall ’76 JD, ’12 LLDH 

Marshall has made a significant and enduring impact on Yale, establishing herself as one of the university’s most active volunteers. She started as a volunteer soon after graduation, when she helped establish a Law School club in Boston. In 1990, she became a member of the Law School Executive Committee. She also volunteered on the Reunion Gift Committee and the Reunion Committee, serving as co-chair of the latter from 1994 to1995, in addition to her more recent leadership as a member of the Law School Alumni and the Law School Fund boards.

In 2004, she began a six-year term as an alumni fellow on the Yale Board of Trustees (then named the Yale Corporation) and, after completing her tenure in 2010, returned as a successor fellow in 2012. A year later she was elected the first woman senior fellow of the Board, a position she held until 2016. In between, she chaired Yale’s Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, work that ultimately led to the establishment of the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.

Marshall has also been a regular guest lecturer, attending and speaking at alum and student events, and serving as a frequent and dedicated mentor to all who seek her counsel.  She was a panelist at YaleWomen’s 2013 inaugural conference, Vision, Values, Voice: Women Changing a Changing Worldand she has been an active participant in Yale club gatherings in her hometown of Boston was well as a frequent speaker at Yale alumni regional events, including one last year in her native South Africa. 


Lise Pfeiffer Chapman ’81 MBA

Chapman’s dedication was evident in her early days as site coordinator and regional director for the Yale Day of Service. In 2014, as Day of Service chair, she recruited presidents George H.W. Bush ’48, George W. Bush ’68, Bill Clinton ’73 JD, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ’73 JD to be the program’s inaugural honorary chairs.

Chapman joined the YAA Board of Governors in 2010 and was elected an executive officer in 2013 and chair in 2014. As chair, she focused on building stronger bonds between the on-campus and alumni communities, inviting President Peter Salovey and several deans to attend board meetings and setting the precedent of board participation in Yale College Reunion, Freshman Address, and Commencement events. She championed the creation of the Careers, Life, and Yale program to connect alumni with students, initiated the AYA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, and served as a Yale Alumni Service Corps project leader in Nicaragua, West Virginia, and India.

Following her service as YAA board chair, Chapman co-founded 1stGenYale, a shared interest group that fosters a supportive community for alumni and students from first-generation and underserved backgrounds. For the School of Management (SOM), Chapman chaired her 25th, 30th, and 35th reunions, and was a member of the 25th and 35th Reunion Gift committees. She currently serves as co-chair of 1stGenYale, member of the board of directors and class agent for the Yale Alumni Fund, and member of her local Alumni Schools Committee.  She is also one of four founding administrators of the Yale Alumni closed Facebook group.

Previous Yale Medal recipients include many women alums who helped found, shape, and continue to build YaleWomen: Anne Boucher ’80, Weili Cheng ’77, Maureen Doran ’71 MSN, Kathy Edersheim ’87, Susie Krentz ’80, Susan Lennon ’85 MPPM, Bobbi Mark ’76, Ellen McGinnis ’82, Eve Rice ’73, Nancy Stratford ’77, Barbara Wagner ’73, and Vera Wells ’71.

Learn more about this year’s Yale Medal recipients here.

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.  

President's Women of Yale Lecture Series Features Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson '94 MPH '00 MD

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.



A Truly Global Outlook: YaleWomen's Growing Network of International Chapters

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 london@yalewomen.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

New Annotated Library Subject Guide on Coeducation: A 50 Women At Yale 150 Initiative

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



Letter from the Chair - Fall 2018

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 info@yalewomen.org. Our thanks for all you do!

Susan E. Lennon ’85 MPPM
Chair, YaleWomen