Apply Now and Never Look Back!

By Jennifer Long

croI joined DePaul in the fall of 2013 in the Office of Advancement, on a team that works to develop special gifts from individual donors by encouraging philanthropy to a variety of initiatives. As you might guess, this externally facing job is rather autonomous and does not require much engagement across the university.

Though you never forget you’re working to support students and programming through fundraising, you can sometimes feel disconnected from the DePaul community while traveling to meet donors. Being housed in an administrative building in the Loop doesn’t help either, as it’s not strictly a DePaul building.

The DePaul Women’s Network was just what I needed to feel more connected.

It took me too long to discover it. I believe the first email that caught my attention was one regarding an improv session on public speaking. I wasn’t bold enough at the time to attend, but I did quickly start my application for the Service and Outreach team and added the Women’s Convocation—honoring 10 years of DePaul Women’s Network—to my calendar.

DWN quickly allowed me to grow in my understanding of the amazing university I had been fundraising for, to understand the breadth of experiences of DePaul women, to learn about how other women were managing their careers, and to learn new skills myself.

The Service and Outreach team—one of five you can serve on as a team member or director—plans events such as the High Tea with St. Louise de Marillac. Joining this team made me feel like I was making a direct impact on the DePaul and surrounding community, and gave me the opportunity to develop additional skills in event planning and coordination. It only required a few more hours monthly than the members-at-large membership group (no team designation). I was pleased my application was accepted and that I was able to participate for the next year. My connections quickly grew through my collaborations with other team members and members at large.

Unfortunately, due to enrolling in a graduate program, I decided to step back from the team role to serve as a member at large in late 2015. However, I’ve still remained connected by participating in a variety of DWN events, including the annual High Tea and the Interactive Art events, and I look forward to attending the more casual ones, such as the regular coffee and happy hours.

In November of 2015, one of the tragic bereavement notices we all receive in our inboxes, referenced a loss I was experiencing. When I returned to the office, I had interoffice mail in the form of letters and gifts from women I had met through DePaul Women’s Network, and even the Service and Outreach team, from which I had recently stepped down. That outpouring of support is yet another example of the benefit of connecting with the beautiful, wonderful women at DePaul and in DWN.

I would encourage every woman to consider what the DePaul Women’s Network might offer their DePaul experience (and beyond!), and how they might like to participate. DePaul University is a place where people grow, and DWN helps connect women throughout that process. Apply now and never look back!

Recruitment for 2017-18 team members and directors is open until April 7, 2017. Click here to apply.

Jennifer Long is a DWN member at large and an assistant director of development for DePaul’s Richard H. Driehaus College of Business.

Why DWN? I’ll Tell You…

 Great WallBy Deirdre Laverdiere

In the autumn of 2015, I started working at DePaul as a temporary employee while a woman was out on maternity leave. When I was offered a position to stay on full-time, I was thrilled. I loved working at DePaul but did not know anyone outside of my department.

My first DWN event was High Tea with Louise where I met some wonderful women who shared their experiences in and out of the university.  Right then I decided to see how I could become more involved.

I have a history of volunteering for women’s business groups; in my previous career I served on many different levels of an organization and enjoyed every minute. I found it very fulfilling to give a portion of my time to helping bring women together. I knew DWN would give me the same satisfaction and the women at DePaul have not let me down.

I started my DWN experience on the Programming team. In my first year, I helped put together the fitness event and Women of Substance event. For the fitness event, a fellow Programming team member and I were able to attach the event to HR’s Vin-cent$ Program. A wonderful campaign designed to help put money back in employee’s wallets for healthy activities.

In November 2016, while on the Programming team, I was approached to step up and head the Membership and Engagement team, which focuses on events designed for DWN members only.  (While anyone can attend an event, only members receive the invitation.) I was excited for the opportunity and since taking the lead as director, the team and I have held a night at the theater showcasing the students’ production of “We are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia”. In the spring of 2017, we will be hosting a wine tasting event, learning from a sommelier how to pair wine and food together. Keep your eye out for the details coming soon.

One of the things I love about DWN is there is something for everyone, no matter your interest. Your level of involvement is up to you. The first step is joining the league of spectacular women who make up DWN. There are five different teams and I know there is one that will be a great fit for all women at DePaul –

  • Programming
  • Membership and Engagement
  • Operations
  • Service and Outreach
  • Marketing and Communications

There are three levels for you to consider: Member at large, great for the woman who wants to dip her toe but not sure of her time commitment; Team member, join one of the terrific teams and help out in your area of interest; Director, lead one of the teams and meet with the other directors on a monthly basis. Registration is now open for 2017-18 team members and directors.

It is extremely easy to apply and should only take a few minutes to become part of this phenomenal group. As a reminder, current team members must reapply if they wish to stay on their team next year, try out a different team or step up to one of the two director positions that are currently open.

Please click here to sign up today – DWN Team Member or Director. Applications to be a team member or director will be accepted until April 7, 2017.

Deirdre Laverdiere is the director of membership and engagement for DWN and the program partner director for the Center for Sales Leadership at DePaul.

DWN Book Club: ‘Lab Girl’ Sheds Light on Life as a Scientist

By Kris Gallagher

labgirlLab Girl, a memoir by Hope Jahren, surprised and delighted me with its mash-up of basic plant science and the dirty, chaotic mess that is both research and life. It tells the story of a bright, reclusive and committed scientist, alternating between loneliness, the thrill of discovery and the quest to find her place in the world. It showcases the best non-romantic male-female relationship that I’ve ever read about. And, it’s left me standing under trees this spring, wondering what’s going on in there.

Attendees at the Loop discussion praised how the book alternated between bite-size bits of science and Jahren’s life. The science snippets also served as a metaphor, starting with seeds and Jahren’s childhood and following the growth of the tree and the woman until maturity. It also talks about the importance of family, both the ones we are born with and the ones we make. The accessibility and support of mothers and fathers figure prominently in the lives of the main characters.

One of the most evocative moments in the book is when Jahren discovers a previously unknown substance inside seeds (we won’t tell; you’ll have to read the book). She writes about how mind-blowing it is to be the only person on the planet to know it. None of us could imagine that happening in our lives. Her discovery made us all yearn a bit to be scientists.

Then there is the flip side. Even though we all work in academia, we were struck by how scientists live grant to grant. Highly educated, experienced scientists (like Bill, her long-time assistant) live hand to mouth, sometimes in spare broom closets, when grant money slows to a drip. They are working at nationally renowned universities, picking through abandoned equipment and celebrating the retrieval of a package of unused gloves. This is a crazy way to fund science!

The book ends with a request that readers plant at least one tree, and we all talked about our options for doing so. I think we’ll all look at spring differently this year.

Note: One participant listened to the audio book, which is narrated by Jahren, and didn’t appreciate how emotional the author becomes in some sections. This may help you decide how you want to engage with this book.

Kris Gallagher is a member of the DePaul Women’s Network marketing and communications team, and an associate editor in the Office of Advancement at DePaul University.

The Vagina Monologues Should be an Ongoing Conversation

By Jennifer Long

vmOur society is not yet inclusive or representative of all people’s voices. Women, for example, have a number of experiences related to violence and oppression that still need to be heard and championed.

DePaul’s 18th Annual Vagina Monologues was a reminder of that fact. A reminder, because decades after Eve Ensler wrote and performed the original play at the Off-Broadway Westside Theatre, her words are still recited and are still able to disarm and empower an audience.

I had the pleasure of attending this play on the Lincoln Park campus in early February. It helped me grow in my understanding of DePaul women.

A collaborative effort between The Women’s Center, the Theatre School and the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, this performance activism entitled “Vagina Monologues” raises awareness of the breadth of women’s experiences through Eve Ensler’s writing and personal monologues written by DePaul students.

It’s performed every year at DePaul around Valentine’s Day weekend, and proceeds from ticket sales support three on-campus organizations: Rape Victim Advocates, A Long Walk Home and Take Back the Halls. In fact, performances all over the country under this name have raised over $100 million dollars in support of women’s and domestic organizations since its inception.

I should have known that this combination of expression, intention and vulnerability would be reviving.

Throughout the play, audience members were encouraged to clap, holler or snap whenever a monologue resonated. I imagine many, like me, lost count of how many times they participated. It was remarkable to be in the presence of brave women who shared their stories and brought the experiences of others to life by reciting monologues. I felt empowered and connected to a community of DePaul women, women everywhere and their allies.

The personal monologues from DePaul students were particularly startling. They opened my eyes to the broad range of our female students’ experiences—experiences I wasn’t aware of at my own alma mater as an undergraduate.

One particular monologue revolved around conversations that had floated around campus last year. These “#triggered” conversations were in response to racial tension and insensitivity toward those suffering on campus due to their race, sexual identity or experience with sexual violence. This monologue was a reminder that we could all do better at thinking about the impact that our words and actions can have not only in the DePaul community, but in all communities.

And then there was a monologue that clearly articulated consent—how it is defined and supported at DePaul, and how DePaul continues the conversation on consent on many college campuses today.

Interestingly, after some contextual research on the subject, I learned there have been conflicting perspectives regarding these performances. Mostly, that the language used and voices represented were too narrow by focusing heavily on a white, middle-class female experience. Arguably, the platform has grown to include the voices of women with diverse backgrounds and varying identities, including transwomen.

One transwoman DePaul student, who had recently passed away, was unable to share her story that weekend. But a draft of her monologue was posted near the exit. By acknowledging her voice in this way, it was clear how DePaul values expanding the platform to include more voices and experiences—in a way that the original performance may not have done decades prior. Surely though, it could still grow to be even more inclusive.

I highly recommend attending this play the next time it is available on campus or in your community. Whether it is “The Vagina Monologues” or any other performance activism for a marginalized or oppressed community, all who attend will leave with a broader perspective of society.

If more people’s voices and experiences are heard, society might become more inclusive and understanding.

While the people in the audience may have had different identities or definitions of feminism, may not have had vaginas, may not have experienced sexual violence and oppression, they can still become allies for the community and help continue the conversation that works to eliminate violence and oppression of women.

How will you help continue the conversation?

Jennifer Long is a DWN member at large and an assistant director of development for DePaul’s Richard H. Driehaus College of Business.

DWN Works Up a Sweat at the Ray

By Kris Gallagher


I’m at that age where the desire to exercise more often conflicts with my desire to not inflame my bad knee. Still, I was intrigued by the free Exercise for Health and Wellness with DWN event at the Ray Meyer Fitness & Recreation Center on Feb. 20. So, I packed up my workout clothes and my bum knee and off I went.

I was happy to see that the two dozen women who joined me were of all ages and athletic abilities. We joked around and encouraged each other as we tried to keep up with the instructors. Thankfully, they told us that is was more important to keep moving than to mimic them exactly. Even better, they told us to scale the intensity of the workout to match the needs of our own bodies.

First up was 20 minutes of Zumba. If you are new to Zumba, it’s a dance-based workout with fairly simple, repetitive motions. In addition to being good exercise, you learn some nifty dance moves. We pumped our arms, wiggled our middles and hopped to the beat of the peppy Latin music. Well, many people hopped. I stepped, keeping the impact on my knee low and still managing to work up a good sweat. I’d forgotten how much fun Zumba is.

The next 20-minute session was a new style of exercise for me: Tabata Blast. The instructor showed us a series of poses that require balance and muscle strength, such as a plank or a deep squat. We’d hold the pose for 20 seconds, take 20 seconds off, and then repeat. Whoa, THAT was a workout! Two days later, my thighs are still screaming. It’s the kind of scream that means calories were burned and muscles were strengthened. I was relieved to hear that regular Tabata Blast classes are just 30 minutes long. I don’t think I could go for an hour!

Finally, an instructor led us through a series of yoga poses that let us stretch and relax and restore our sense of calm. The woman next to me said it was her first time trying yoga and she seemed to be able to do all the poses easily. Yoga is a great way to start exercising if you haven’t been. It helps you loosen up tight muscles and joints, builds your strength and improves your balance. It’s also a mini-meditation session, and most of us can use more of that!

Our workout was jointly sponsored by DWN and DePaul’s Healthy Vin-cent$ Wellness Program. If you are inspired to improve your health, check out the classes held at the Ray and at the newly refurbished gym in the basement of the College of Computing and Digital Media building in the Loop. You can sign up for six-week classes or single sessions as your schedule allows.

Oh, and my knee? It’s just fine. Let’s get fit!

Kris Gallagher is a marketing and communications team member for DWN, and an associate editor in the Office of Advancement at DePaul University.