Celebrating the Spirit of St. Louise at DWN’s 12th Annual High Tea

 By Nadia Alfadel Coloma

On March 28, DePaul women faculty and staff gathered for fellowship, networking and service at DWN’s 12th annual High Tea with St. Louise. This yearly celebration marks two occasions: Women’s History Month and St. Louise’s feast day, both of which occur in March.

So who was St. Louise anyway? Why does DWN hold this event each year to commemorate her?

One terrific metaphor I heard once from someone explaining the significance of St. Louise, in her relation to St. Vincent, is that if St. Vincent were the president of our university, then St. Louise would be the provost.

St Louise de MarillacFrom 17th century France, St. Louise was St. Vincent’s most trusted and key collaborator. She dedicated her life to the service of others, serving the poor alongside St. Vincent and educating women to help those most in need. St. Louise was also a wife (then widow), a mother (to a son with special needs), a nurse, social worker, teacher and community organizer. She founded the Daughter’s of Charity, a community of religious women that still exists today.

St. Louise’s spirit of service and action inspires us to take our beliefs,  ideas, passions, dreams, our vision for a better world—and put them into action. And it is because of her inspiring legacy that DWN honors her each year, not with one event, but with two: the other being our annual Women of Spirit and Action Awards.

17458234_10212052718136305_3478190085345872810_nBut this year’s High Tea with St. Louise was different. In addition to providing a space and opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea and treats with fellow DPU women, our 2017 High Tea included a service activity.

All this talk about St. Louise inspiring us to action, well, what better way to honor her than to put our inspiration to action and do service in her name?

The event kicked off with keynote speaker Barbara Sims, a DePaul SNL graduate student who talked about her experiences facing poverty, her struggles as a first-generation college student and single mother, and her climb to a six-figure corporate job that, while it filled her pockets, didn’t satisfy her soul.

“Knowledge is power,” she shared, reading a quote from Kofi Annan that inspired her. “Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society and every family.”

Barbara ended up leaving her six-figure job to pursue her passion for singing. In fact, she sang a song just before beginning her address, mesmerizing everyone with the delightful surprise of her voice that echoed through the lofty ceilings of Cortelyou Commons. (Not every keynote speaker spontaneously breaks into song…) You can watch the 40-second clip of her singing here.

Barbara spent a few years traveling around the country singing, but she still felt a restlessness in her soul. She had a calling toward education, and so decided to go back to school, enrolling at DePaul to pursue a PhD that focuses on culturally relevant education in the neo liberal era.

“I wanted to be in some service,” she said. “Our African American students are either underemployed or unemployed. They’re not walking away from school prepared or inspired.”

sarahscircleAfter Barbara’s keynote, the local nonprofit that we would be serving that day was introduced. Sarah’s Circle, located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, serves women who are homeless or in need of a safe space. Last year the organization served roughly 793 women in the community.

But there was one more special guest before the service portion of the event: the Depaul (yes, lowercase p) USA’s Dax Program, which helps our students facing homelessness by matching them with host families and giving them resources and support so they can complete their education at DePaul.

20170328_161128“There are at least 50 students at DePaul who are homeless, or housing insecure, as we prefer to say, during any given quarter,” shared Sister Judy Warmbold, the Dax program coordinator. “The problem is… we don’t know who these students are. The best thing you can do to help is know that this program exists, help spread the word and help identify students who you suspect might need this program.”

“There are at least 50 students at DePaul who are homeless during any given quarter. The problem is… we don’t know who they are.” – Sister Judy Warmbold, Dax program coordinator

I had heard about the Dax Program a couple of years ago, but admittedly, it had slipped from my mind since then—which made me feel awful, considering that one of the main points Sister Judy stressed to everyone was to simply be aware. Be aware of the program and be aware of the students you work with or teach on campus, as students facing homelessness are often too ashamed to come forward. You can read more about Dax in Newsline.

After a brief Q&A between the attendees and guest speakers, the energized frenzy of the service activity finally began.

At each round table, DPU women assembled sandwiches and packed them into bagged lunches for the women who benefit from Sarah’s Circle. Each table had loaves of bread, slices of deli meat and cheese, clementines and bags of chips. Also dispersed around the tables were index cards on which we could write a personal message to the woman who would receive the bagged lunch.

It was wonderful to be in the company of so many DePaul women who gave the gift of their presence that day to help women that they would never meet. Hands were reaching across tables, people were calling out “Is there more cheese?” and “Does anyone have an extra bag?” The connection and solidarity I felt with those around me was such a rejuvenating way to end my work day.

By the end, the 50 women who participated made 100 sandwiches for 100 bagged lunches. The representatives from Sarah’s Circle expressed their gratitude and amazement at how fast and efficiently we put the lunches together. Many looked up from the tables as if thinking, “Aren’t there anymore sandwiches to make?”

The spirit of St. Louise truly shone through the windows of Cortelyou Commons that afternoon.

I’m so glad that the DePaul Women’s Network offers these opportunities to come together, learn and give back to the larger community. It makes me proud to be a part of the Network. I hope we made St. Louise proud with this event that bears her name. I have a feeling we did.

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Visit our Facebook page to view more photos from the event!

Nadia Alfadel Coloma is the director of marketing and communications for the DePaul Women’s Network, and a communications and workforce specialist in Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul University.

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.

DWN Salutes 160 Women of Spirit and Action

DWN Salutes 160 Women of Spirit and Action

By Kris Gallagher

“Someone who, despite the odds, can do what it takes to get things done.”

Keynote speaker Georgianna Torres Reyes was talking about St. Louise de Marillac, but she could easily have been talking about any of the 160 women honored this year as Women of Spirit and Action by DWN. More than 200 people gathered at the breakfast event on Nov. 5 to celebrate the recipients, network and reflect on the life of St. Louise.

St. Louise was “a warrior, a worrier, a doer,” said Torres Reyes, who is an assistant vice president in the Office of Mission and Values. Despite having the bad head cold that students dubbed “DePlague,” she spoke movingly about St. Louise’s life: her father’s early death, her split education between a cerebral religious school and a pragmatic boarding school, her thwarted desire to join a convent, her arranged marriage, her sickly son, and her growing conviction that God had plans for her outside of family life.

After her husband’s death, Louise was assigned a new spiritual counselor: Vincent de Paul, a man she initially found repugnant. Vincent soon came to rely on her judgment and organizational skills, while Louise found her outlet to serve something greater than herself. In essence, they became “the dreamer and the wheels behind the dream,” said Torres Reyes.

Torres Reyes led the attendees in a series of short reflections on the complexities of their multiple roles, roadblocks they have faced, and their insecurities and how to counter them.

Then, to applause and occasional yells of support, DWN President Shea Wolfe introduced the recipients, who came forward to accept their awards while excerpts from their nominations scrolled on the screen behind them.

“The women of spirit and action we recognized today have many talents and commitments,” said Jennifer Roop, executive vice president of DWN, in her closing remarks. “They are masters of accomplishing what they set out to do, helping others and themselves in the process.”

Kris Gallagher is a member of the Marketing and Communications Team for DWN, and a Senior Editor for University Relations at DePaul.

Join DWN Now—Here’s Why!

Shea Wolfe
Shea Wolfe, DWN 2015-16 President

By Shea Wolfe

As a new staff member coming to DePaul in Spring 2013 from a smaller institution, the university felt very large to me. While I was comfortable within my departmental team and division of Student Affairs, I felt like I wasn’t taking advantage of the networks of people within the campus community that I knew existed and whom I felt might share similar personal and professional interests. I also knew I wasn’t going to find these folks by sitting in my office and waiting for them to come to me, so it was time to go out and do some networking. For an introvert like myself, that’s not always the easiest thing to do, but when I began asking others how to get involved and which organization was doing great things on this campus, the answer always came back around to the DePaul Women’s Network.

While I thought I’d just initially join as a team member, there was an opportunity to take a leadership role within the newly developed Learning & Engagement team (now renamed Membership & Engagement). I decided to step up to the plate because I figured the team was new, I was new, and no one would be any wiser! I found my first year in DWN to be an exhilarating ride and one that I would grow fond of during my tenure. I appreciated getting to know women from other departments and areas that I would never have had a chance to speak with had it not been for DWN. Those meetings became a focal point for me and a place where I could truly be comfortable. When the time came to decide what role I wanted to play for the 2014-15 service year, I once again found myself stepping up to the plate as the Executive Vice President/President-Elect. I am grateful for what DWN has done for the DePaul community, and for myself, and have been honored to play a role in the leadership development of this network.

DWN recently opened applications for membership in the 2015-16 service year. Just as I did when looking to get involved, I would encourage each of you to think about your own personal and professional goals while you’re at DePaul:

  • What is it that you want to do and be while you’re here?
  • What skills do you want to obtain?
  • How can you help yourself get to the next level?

And while you’re thinking about and answering these questions, I would ask you to think about what role DWN could play. There are two ways to participate in DWN: Become a director (this year for the Marketing & Communications or Programming team), or join as a team member within 1 of 5 areas. Each of our teams—Operations, Membership & Engagement, Service & Outreach, Programming, and Marketing & Communications—brings something special to the Network. In addition, the varied types of teams mean you can help out using skills you already have or learn something new. Once you learn more on DWN’s website, applying is as easy as filling out an online application.

I encourage you to consider stepping up to the plate—I know I’m glad I did.

DWN recruitment is open until Monday, April 6. Click here to apply now!

WELL. BALANCED.

 

DWN Wellness Logo

By Jen Fox

This year the DePaul Women’s Network has focused our programming around the theme Women’s Ways of Wellness. For me, the word Ways is just as important as the word Wellness, as it indicates that Wellness is not a destination, but a journey…and there is more than one path to get there.

At our retreat this summer, our team members shared with us what wellness meant to them, and while each woman gave a unique answer there were common threads as well. One of the most common themes was balance.

As women, we hear the word balance often, particularly when it comes to finding harmony between our work and personal lives, but we all know balance has more than two facets. Balance comes into play when we are trying to find time to work out or go to church or have dinner with our best friend.

While DWN cannot necessarily bring that balance to your life, we can offer a slate of programs aimed at supporting you on that journey.

Knowing that each member of our community may be taking a different path to a well-balanced life, our plan is to offer programs that focus on six different aspects of wellness (shown in the logo above): Emotional, physical, vocational, spiritual, community and social.

Here are a few examples of what we are planning:

Wellness event examples

More information is available on our website and our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).

I hope to see you at one of our future events!

Speaking of wellness: DWN will be at the St. Vincent’s Health Benefit Faire Oct. 27-30! Stop by our table when the faire comes to Lincoln Park (Oct. 27 and 28, 7:30-11:30 a.m., Student Center Rooms 314 A&B) and the Loop (Oct. 29 and 30, 7-11 a.m., DePaul Center Concourse Level).

Jen Fox serves as DWN’s President for 2014-15 and is Associate Director of Housing Services at DePaul University.