Because of You, It Mattered

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 on the YaleWomen Council


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.


YaleWomen Talks With Yale College Council President Saloni Rao '20

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





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.

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.

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

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.

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

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