November 20, 2013
In an effort to boost gender diversity on corporate boards across the country, Simmons partnered with the national campaign 2020 Women on Boards to host a panel discussion on the issue November 12.
The event was one of 20 being held across the country to discuss how we can raise the percentage of women on U.S. corporate boards to 20 percent or greater by the year 2020. 2020 Women on Boards Founder Stephanie Sonnabend was in attendance and praised Simmons for being an early supporter of the campaign, which launched in 2010. She announced that, going forward, Simmons will house the 2020 Women on Boards Boston Chapter, coordinating all activities taking place in Massachusetts.
“Together we can make it happen,” she said. “We’re about education and advocacy.”
President Helen Drinan delivered welcoming remarks to the audience gathered in the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center, drawing from her recent Huffington Post blog on the absence of women from Twitter’s board of directors.
“How can a company possibly think that not having any women on its board could make sense?” she said. “There is absolutely no excuse for this.”
Drinan stressed the need for male allies when discussing gender inequality, and urged the audience to think politically about the companies they choose to support. On its website, 2020 Women on Boards lists the number of women on the boards of hundreds of well-known companies. Consumers can search this list and choose not to support businesses that have all-male boards.
Panelist Joe Keefe, President and CEP of Pax World Funds, also urged audience members with investments to cast their proxy votes and make their voices heard as shareholders.
“As investors we are asleep at the switch,” he said. “I believe that if we put our investment money to work we can make a difference.”
Keefe was joined for the panel discussion by moderator Cathy Minehan, Dean of the School of Management, and by Sue Vinnicombe, an expert on gender diversity on corporate boards and the Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Endowed Chair for Women and Leadership at the Simmons School of Management. Vinnicombe founded the International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield University in England, which publishes an annual report on the number of women directors on corporate boards in the United Kingdom.
“We need to change the culture,” Vinnicombe said. “It’s a business issue. It’s not a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a ‘need to have.’”
Tuesday’s event was part of SimmonsLEADS, a dynamic series of exciting speakers, programs, and events that focus on the empowerment and development of women leaders. The initiative aims to further the mission of the College's founder, John Simmons — to enable women to acquire independent livelihoods. All SimmonsLEADS events are non-profit fundraisers for graduate scholarships at Simmons College to help ensure the viability of women's education for generations to come.
Pictured above: Panelists Joe Keefe and Sue Vinnicombe with Moderator Cathy Minehan. Photo Credit: John Waite.
November 18, 2013
On Saturday November 9, the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change (SILC) hosted the 9th annual Asian American Women in Leadership Conference sponsored by ASPIRE (Asian Sisters Participating In Reaching Excellence). Approximately 150 women attended the day-long conference, which featured workshops, a performance by the performance troupe Genki Spark, facilitated networking discussion groups, and a keynote by Ishita Gupta, entrepreneur and founder of Fear.Less Magazine.
Every year, the conference aims to promote strategic dialogue on the importance of leadership for Asian American girls and women. This year’s conference theme was “Embracing the Leader You Are.”
As they have in past years, the Simmons Asian Student Association (ASA) played a prominent role in providing volunteer leadership at the conference, with more than 11 members attending. Grace Tang, the president of ASA, delivered the welcoming remarks.
Pictured above: members of the Simmons Asian Student Association at the conference.
November 14, 2013
The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts honored five role models at the 22nd annual Leading Women Awards Breakfast Nov. 7. Among the honorees were: Simmons College President Helen Drinan; Denise Kaigler, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs & Communications at Boston Scientific Corporation; Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder & CEO, Care.com; Joyce Maroney, Senior Director, Customer Experience & Services Marketing Kronos, Inc.; and Leading Man, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
“Each year Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts honors remarkable leaders who have made a positive impact in their career and community,” said Ruth Bramson, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts CEO. “The Leading Women Awards is a way for our girls to meet great role models and for our supporters to learn how Girl Scouts is creating future women leaders.”
Each honoree was paired with a Girl Scout who has similar interests or career aspirations. Girl Scout Senior Kate Schweikert introduced President Drinan and presented her with her award.
The Leading Women Awards Ceremony was held at the Sheraton Hotel and drew an audience of more than 600 professionals and friends of the Girl Scouts, including former leading woman Callie Crossley, WGBH radio host; Marie Turley, Executive Director of the City of Boston Women’s Commission; Suffolk County Sherriff Steven W. Tompkins; and Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
Pictured above: Girl Scout Senior Kate Schweikert presented President Drinan with the Leading Woman award.
November 4, 2013
More than 100 people gathered on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston Oct. 27 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Boston Women's Memorial.
The event included speeches by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, and Simmons alumna Barbara Lee '67. Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change Director Diane Hammer also attended. Marie Turley, executive director of the Boston Women's Commission, delivered closing remarks.
The Boston Women's Memorial includes sculptures of three influential Boston writers who had progressive ideas and a commitment to social change: poet Phillis Wheatley, feminist editor Lucy Stone, and revolutionary-era scribe Abigail Adams.
The memorial, installed in 2003, was a collaborative effort by representatives from the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, City Hall, the Boston Women’s Commission, the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, and other groups. Click here to learn more.
October 31, 2013
Simmons faculty, staff, and students gathered in the Common Grounds Café October 30 to celebrate the birthday of John Simmons, the College’s founder. Members of the College community enjoyed cake, sparking cider, and the chance to pose with a six-foot-tall birthday card signed by hundreds in John Simmons’s honor.
After a welcome address by President Helen Drinan, School of Social Work Associate Professor of Practice Denise Hildreth delivered a Founder’s Day speech thanking John Simmons for his visionary commitment to women-centered education.
“Thank you for your recognition of the link between education, independence and freedom – freedom to determine the paths of our lives, not from a narrowly predetermined set of gendered expectations, but from a vast array of opportunities where we can find our life’s passion and purpose and make our own choices in navigating our careers,” she said.
Student Emily Singer ’15 also took to the podium to read her essay comparing the modern Simmons student to the College’s first attendees. Singer’s essay was one of 21 entries in this year’s Founder’s Day Essay Contest (up from seven last year) and was selected as the winner by a panel of judges, earning her a $1,000 prize.
“I love this school because it memorializes its past without romanticizing it,” she said.
Earlier in the day, a small group made the trek to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge for an intimate ceremony at John Simmons’s grave. Archivist Jason Wood told the story of the College’s founder, a clothing manufacturer credited with inventing the ready-to-wear suit. President Drinan said she hoped to expand the trip to include more attendees next year. “It was really a quite touching and historical event,” she said.
See what the Simmons community has to say about John Simmons’s legacy in a special Founder’s Day edition of “Simmons Speaks.”
Pictured Above: President Drinan, Emily Singer ’15, and Dean for Student Life Sarah Neill.
October 10, 2013
Hundreds of attendees packed the John Hancock Hall in Boston October 7 for a forum discussing women in politics featuring many of Massachusetts’ female politicians along with feminist Gloria Steinem.
The event, "How Women Become Political,” was co-hosted by Simmons and the Grimké Event Committee, and celebrated the 175th anniversary of Angelina Grimké’s address to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1838. Grimké, an abolitionist and feminist, was the first woman to ever address a legislative body. Read more about the event here.
October 9, 2013
Hundreds of attendees packed the John Hancock Hall in Boston October 7 for a forum discussing women in politics featuring many of Massachusetts’ female politicians along with feminist Gloria Steinem. The event, “How Women Become Political,” was co-hosted by Simmons and the Grimké Event Committee, and celebrated the 175th anniversary of Angelina Grimké’s address to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1838. Grimké, an abolitionist and feminist, was the first woman to ever address a legislative body.
Grimké’s great-great-grandson attended the event, and listened as actress Anne Gottlieb performed Grimké’s speech, which made history 175 years ago. Later, Steinem cited Grimké as a source of personal inspiration.
“In a way, I’ve always been following Angelina Grimké, and all of our leaders who’ve always understood that the caste system of sex and race are always intertwined,” she said.
Steinem was joined on stage for a panel discussion by Boston City Councilor at-large Ayanna Pressley, Babson College President and former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, and Chair of Political Parity Ambassador Swanee Hunt. Speaker U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was unable to attend the event but sent a video describing her personal decision to go into politics. Broadcast journalist Callie Crossley moderated the discussion, and Simmons President Helen Drinan provided the welcome.
“I would suggest that the founder of Simmons College, John Simmons, was also a feminist,” she said. “Those of us who have benefitted so enormously from John Simmons’s philanthropy are delighted to be here with all of you to bear witness to the great work of our founder’s contemporary, Angelina Grimké.”
The panelists agreed that it often takes several requests before women decide to run for office and many prefer to remain behind the scenes instead. Pressley, who worked for years as an aide to some of the state’s top politicians, acknowledged feelings of inadequacy that kept her from entering politics at a younger age.
“For many years and for many reasons, I struggled to stand fully in my power. I didn’t feel good enough, smart enough, or ready,” she said. “Our challenge and our charge is to ensure that every girl feels empowered to dare to be themselves, because only then will they truly dare to be political.”
Steinem concurred. “We need to stop embracing a less-than view of ourselves,” she said. “It’s not that women lack confidence, it’s that a lot of effort has been put into making us lack confidence.”
To view a video of the full event, click here.
Pictured above: Panelists Ayanna Pressley, Gloria Steinem, Kerry Healey, and Swannee Hunt.
September 26, 2013
On Oct. 7, more than 1,000 people will gather at the John Hancock Hall in Boston for the sold out political forum “How Women Become Political” to discuss the path to politics for women and commemorate the historic address of Angelina Grimké – the first woman to address a legislative body 175 years ago. Sponsored by The Grimké Committee and Simmons College, the public event aims to celebrate and increase women’s participation in politics.
While women have made significant progress in achieving political leadership in the United States since Grimké spoke, there is still a long struggle ahead to achieve equality. Women represent 52 percent of the state population yet make up only 25 percent of the state legislature.
We asked some of our speakers who will be appearing at the Oct. 7 event about their personal journey to political leadership. Below, they share everything from what appealed to them about entering the political world, to the best advice they received along the way.
What about the political world appeals(ed) to you?
Boston City Councilor at-Large Ayanna Pressley: Service, impact, improved outcomes, working together with people to actualize shared values and vision.
Former Lt. Massachusetts Governor Kerry Healey: I was working at a think tank for a decade before making the leap to politics. During that time, I was doing research on best practices to combat drug crime, gang violence, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and recidivism. I felt that I—and my colleagues—had important answers to many social problems, but that our findings and recommendations never seemed to reach those with the power to “do something.” I entered politics so I would have the power to make the changes I knew would make society safer, less violent, and more economically efficient.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria Swanee Hunt: I see politics as a critical link to translate community impact on a local scale to policy change on a large scale. In my 30s, my husband and I were running a halfway house in Denver—we saw up close how broken the mental health system was. We put together a mayoral candidate’s briefing and packed the church basement with mentally ill people, their families, and their treatment providers. I was asking these candidates: what would you do if elected? It was a wonderful experience for me, seminal. I was proud to somehow be having an impact on the system. The new mayor subsequently asked me to head up the city’s work on mental health as a civic leader and then the governor appointed me to create and chair a Governor’s Coordinating Council on Housing and Homelessness
What is the best piece of political advice that you were ever given? Who gave it to you?
Swanee Hunt: You know, everyone has a role model, and Hillary Clinton has been mine since 1992. As she was running for Senate I talked to a number of liberal, wealthy, educated women who said they would not support her because she was “ambitious.” I said to myself, “you want to have a senator representing you who’s not ambitious?” Wow, that seems so transparently gender-biased.
I think we are in such a mess in terms of Congress with the gridlock. How do we get out of it? My theory, which has been demonstrated to be true by several research studies, is that women are particularly good at working across divides (in Washington, the partisan aisle). Anyway, Hillary gets into the senate, and what does she do? One of the first pieces of legislation that she sponsors, she gets a co-sponsor named Lindsay Graham, the senator that lead the impeachment of her husband.
Ayanna Pressley: “Be yourself, stand proudly in, and speak your truth, you'll never lose.” - My mother.
Kerry Healey: Legendary Massachusetts Senator William Saltonstall came to one of my first fundraisers when I ran for State Representative in Beverly. He handed me a $250 contribution and as he walked out the door said, “Don’t ever go into debt for politics!”
What is your message for the next generation of women in politics?
Kerry Healey: Build a multi-tiered support network—family, friends, neighbors, campaign volunteers—who can step in to help you meet your obligations to those who depend on you. Women are often caretakers; now you will need people to take care of you. I would also advise not to listen to paid advisers if you are uncomfortable with their direction: listen to your conscience and your gut. Ultimately, it’s your reputation on the line, not theirs. Finally, it’s worth it! Good luck!
Ayanna Pressley: Remain informed and engaged. The war on women is real. Legislative gains made in the past are under threat daily. Our perspective as women is sorely needed and necessary in the rooms and at the tables where these decisions are being made. Also, recognize that there are many career options in politics that are just as important, influential, and impactful as running for us. We need women chiefs of staff, policy directors, campaign managers, and strategists, just to name a few.
Swanee Hunt: Looking at the research, women tend to think that if they run for office and aren’t elected, they let their supporters down. I would say it’s extremely important that before you run, you frame it in your mind: either you’re going to win or lose. If you lose, not to run again is to let your supporters down. You are in there for the long haul. You should look at the record of Abraham Lincoln! Good lord! He lost a senate race right before he ran for president. He would lose and win and lose and win. And that’s really how we have to look at this.
The second piece is to take your experience in the business or nonprofit community and let that energize you. You have a network there. You have skills. A guy who’s been in a corporate law firm for 10 years, he doesn’t know how to do what you know how to do from your professional community. You have a cause, you know why you want to be there. Be energized and confident because of that.
September 24, 2013
The founding committee of Children's Books Boston gathered at an introductory event at Simmons, September 12. Children’s Books Boston is a new organization dedicated to providing a shared space for interaction and discussion among greater Boston companies, institutions, groups, and individuals who work with children’s books. Membership is free and open to librarians, teachers, publishers, booksellers, authors, illustrators, agents, and scholars and students of literature for young people.
From left to right: Yolanda Roy, Charlesbridge Press; Betsy Groban, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Cathie Mercier, Center for the Study of Children's Literature, Simmons College; Jennifer Roberts, Candlewick Press; Roger Sutton, The Horn Book, Inc. Photo by Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly.
September 18, 2013
On Sept. 9, Simmons hosted its inaugural 2013 ENCORE event featuring 2012 Simmons Leadership Conference speaker Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, the first African-American female combat pilot and author of Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter. “Flygirl” brought her upbeat message about strategy, engagement, and action during a three-hour leadership seminar at the Seaport Hotel Boston. The ENCORE series brings back top speakers from the Simmons Leadership Conference and is part of SimmonsLEADS, a dynamic series of exciting speakers, programs, and events that focus on the empowerment and development of women leaders.
- Simmons Hosts National Conversation on Board Diversity
November 20, 2013
- 9th Annual Asian American Women in Leadership Conference Held at Simmons
November 18, 2013
- President Drinan Named “Leading Woman” by Girl Scouts
November 14, 2013
- Boston Women’s Memorial 10-Year Anniversary
November 4, 2013
- Simmons Celebrates Founder’s Day
October 31, 2013
- Photos: "How Women Become Political"
October 10, 2013
- Simmons Co-Hosts Forum on Women in Politics
October 9, 2013
- Q&A: Three Women Share Their Thoughts on Politics
September 26, 2013
- Children's Books Boston Holds Inaugural Event at Simmons
September 24, 2013
- Simmons Hosts First ENCORE Event
September 18, 2013