Distinguished Women and How They LeadJune 17, 2010
Last Friday, I attended the Institute for Community College Development (ICCD) Leadership Tools for Women conference at Hudson Valley Community College. The event brought together more than 100 women who work in higher education and wish to heighten their understanding of the issues facing women as they move to assume leadership roles in their institutions. ICCD provides leadership programming for CEOs, administrators, faculty, and trustees in the State University of New York system’s 30 community colleges and to employees at schools in surrounding states and beyond.
I served on the event planning committee and was excited to see the conference take shape. The first speaker of the event really captured the essence of so many women in the room. Marcia Reynolds is author of the new book Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. Reynolds had us each consider the question, Who would I be if I were to stop everything and give voice to my heart? Talk about a hard question! “Wander women” easily associate what we do with who we are, making the answer to this question quite difficult.
Over lunch we heard from and Jalaja Bonheim, founder and director of the Institute for Circlework, about her commitment to building long-term peaceful and safe spaces for women around the world.
Other highlights from the other sessions I attended included
- Changing Your Campus through Multicultural Alliances — Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities spoke to the need for campuses to involve staff and faculty in building what AACU calls “inclusive excellence,” which is key to ensuring that women are viewed as leaders. The Campus Women Lead program of AACU tries to do just that through their interactive workshops that facilitate the building and maintenance of multicultural alliances.
- Exploring the Emerging Leadership Contexts and Labyrinth of Obstacles Challenging Female Leaders in Community Colleges — Kelli Ligeikis, acting dean, science, technology, engineering, and math at Broome Community College, Binghamton, revealed the disturbing statistic that, among 16 female community college vice presidents in New York State, 69 percent had no interest in becoming president. With 84 percent of community college presidents set to retire by 2016, we need to ensure that women throughout the ranks are prepared and willing to step up to these positions.
Next year’s ICCD Leadership Tools for Women conference will be held June 17, 2011, so make sure to save the date and share this information with those you know in the community college sphere. Also make sure to share ICCD’s flagship program, Gravitational Leadership, which is a comprehensive set of tools and programs aimed at bridging the gap between the need for community college leadership and the ability of those with potential to take on the challenges. Only 29 percent of community college presidents are women, and we need to close that leadership gap!