By Jennifer Long
I 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.