Why DWN Is a Smart Decision (and 7 Reasons I’m Happy I Joined)

For Women’s History Month this March, DWN invited a variety guest authors to share their insights. Read on to see why #DePaulWomenRock!

Jaclyn Hugg
Jaclyn Hugg, DWN’s Communications Team

By Jaclyn Hugg

The average human being makes thousands of decisions daily. Calculate that for a year, and well…you do the math! These decisions can be anything as simple as choosing what cereal to eat for breakfast, to something more complex like contemplating a career change. Yet, many of these decisions have an effect on what we think, say and/or do, and ultimately, aid us in influencing the world around us.

Whereas I cringe when I think about some of the choices I made within the past year (because who doesn’t make mistakes?), one of the things I am most proud of was my decision to apply to become a member of the DePaul Women’s Network (DWN). As a new staff member who had just moved halfway across the country for my current job, I was looking for a way to quickly connect with the university—an entity that would help me explore what it means to be part of the greater campus community, and an outlet that would allow me to serve in accordance with its mission and values. I am happy to say that since joining DWN last July, the Network has not only provided me that which I have described above, but also so much more. And as a way to celebrate my seven months of service, I felt it would only be fitting that I articulate what this experience has meant to me in the form of a top seven list.

Drumroll, please…

  1. Excitement & Challenge. As a member of the Communications team, I have the exciting and challenging task of telling DWN’s story. Through my participation in the Network, I was able to engage my passion for writing and learned new skills in a supportive environment.
  2. Professional Development. Being part of the Network is a great complement to my professional role as Staff Advisor for HerCDM—a student organization aimed at empowering women students within DePaul’s College of Computing & Digital Media (CDM). Because of the knowledge and resources extended to me as a DWN member, I feel as if I can better serve as a resource in regards to helping my students work through gender-related issues in their academic and professional lives. Additionally, I am able to offer timely and relevant suggestions for programming as a result of topics and discussions that emerge from DWN-related activities.
  3. Professional Connections. My participation in the Network put me in contact with women from across the institution that I would have never otherwise met. Through my membership, I developed productive working relationships with other DWN members. I actively seek out DWN members for their expertise, advice and assistance on any number of issues pertaining to my full-time role within CDM. I view a number of these women as mentors, and certainly all as valued colleagues.
  4. Expanded View. I am growing in my knowledge and am becoming more open-minded about gender issues in the workplace and in society in general (specifically as they pertain to women).
  5. Personal Growth. Being “in-the-know” about upcoming activities—uniquely created for and targeted toward women faculty and staff at DePaul, allows me to step out of my comfort zone (I am an introvert by nature) to initiate conversations with colleagues about issues directly related to DWN’s programming. Serving in this role has given me the confidence to network in this way, and somewhat of a platform to encourage fellow women faculty and staff to let their voices be heard and to participate in our events.
  6. Collaborative Environment. DWN sleeps, eats and breathes collaboration between its members and within the campus and surrounding communities! No intense and unnecessary competition amongst women colleagues here! This has been a refreshing change for me.
  7. Lasting Connections. In addition to developing strong professional ties, I am connected with a number of my DWN “sisters” on a more personal level. Through lunch meetings, afternoon walks and coffee dates, these women are great friends and a source of strength and inspiration for me.

As you can see, I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the DePaul Women’s Network and I plan on continuing my participation. My experience so far inspires me to invite you to participate. Become an active member today! Recruitment runs through April 4; visit our website to apply online. To learn more about the Network, you also can check out our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn)!

Jaclyn Hugg is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is Assistant Director of Advising for the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University.

Volunteer with DWN for Vincentian Service Day

Jackie Posek
Jackie Posek, DWN’s Service & Outreach Team

By Jackie Posek

As I’m sure we all know by now, St. Louise de Marillac was a huge advocate and propagator of service to those living in poverty and on the margins of society. In her time, she worked for some of the least cared-for populations in Paris and rural France: widows, orphans, abandoned children. Even the women she reached to become Daughters of Charity were often poor country girls with few prospects for education or fulfillment. She was the embodiment of servant leadership, engaging with the poor not as lowly, faceless folks whom she could save, but rather as beautiful, dignified human beings who allowed her the privilege of serving them. For St. Louise, to engage with those living in poverty was a huge blessing, because it was in that service that she was able to encounter the face of God in the world.

Fast-forward 350+ years to the present day, and we who want to follow in the footsteps of St Louise have an amazing opportunity to embody her spirit of service and love for the poor by participating in Vincentian Service Day on Saturday, May 3. More than 1,200 DePaulians will gather and go out to various service sites all over Chicago to engage in a morning of service and relationship with the poor and marginalized. But VSD isn’t just about doing work in poor neighborhoods; it’s about being Vincentian in our community, reaching out to those whom we would ordinarily not encounter and receiving the gift of getting to know them. Vincentian service is first and foremost about personal relationships, coming together with those who surround us every day whom we ordinarily might not see, and seeing the face of God in them in a very special way. And we get this chance to do it together as proud, fierce, Vincentian women of the 21st century!

Signing up for VSD is super easy. Just send an email to me, Jackie Posek, by April 4, letting me know that you’re interested. I’ll take care of registering us as a team through the Vincentian Community Service Office and will let you know all the necessary details. The event starts at 9 a.m. on May 3, with an opening ceremony gathering all the volunteers together and sending us forth in service. We’ll do service in the morning at a particular site as a group, and then come back to DePaul in the early afternoon for a picnic gathering for all volunteers.

This is a great chance to do meaningful service with your friends and colleagues from DePaul. Please consider joining the DWN team for Vincentian Service Day. You will be really glad you did!

Jackie Posek is a member of DWN’s Service & Outreach team and is Assistant Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at DePaul University.

Community Is My Ultimate Reward

For Women’s History Month this March, DWN invited a variety guest authors to share their insights. Read on to see why #DePaulWomenRock!

Laura Durnell
Laura Durnell

By Laura Durnell

Since Autumn 2000, I have taught at DePaul as contingent part-time faculty. I enjoy teaching at DePaul and am inspired by its intelligent and remarkable faculty, student and staff body. As a bonus, DePaul treats its adjunct faculty better than many higher education institutions. Yet even though DePaul made me feel welcome and I had made friends with adjuncts, one feeling remained: isolation.

Adjuncts are jokingly referred to as “Roads Scholars” because we often teach at more than one college. Since graduating with my MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute, I have taught at Roosevelt University, the Graham School of General Studies at the University of Chicago, and Wilbur Wright College in addition to DePaul. Because of the lack of job and income security for adjuncts, teaching at other institutions or working at other jobs is a necessity. And because of not being secured to one university or college, it’s too easy to become disconnected from not only other faculty members but staff and administration as well. Too many times over the past 15 years, I have had other faculty members, part-time and full-time, in my departments ask, “Who are you?”

When I received DWN’s email last year inviting me to apply for membership, I knew DWN would provide the community I needed. In addition, I became excited that DWN would recognize and let me apply my talents and knowledge. Months before DWN’s invitation, I had attended the DWN events “Life on the Academic Ladder” and “Yes, You Can!” with financial planner and author Julie Murphy Casserly. Not only did these events provide fellowship and collegiality  (at “Life on the Academic Ladder” I even reunited with my fellow American Society of Magazine Editors intern who is now a tenure-track English professor at DePaul, Rebecca Johns-Trissler), but they recognized what female faculty and staff offered and needed in terms of professional and personal development.

I am a member of DWN’s Communications Team, which allows me to utilize and further develop my writing skills, most notably writing for the digital age. This year I have written a promotional email and a blog post for “Image/ing Gender.” I invited some of my fellow adjuncts to the event, and one who attended plans to apply for DWN membership for the coming year. One of my application’s goals for 2013-14 stated that I wanted to welcome more adjuncts into DWN. I think I am fulfilling my objective.

Yet community is my ultimate reward. In addition to working with my team, I have met and worked with staff and faculty on other teams and members of DWN’s directorate. Two members who work outside my academic department even requested that we meet for coffee to discuss writing. If I had not applied to be part of DWN, I would have never met these amazing women, and they definitely would not have asked me out for coffee to talk shop. As our Twitter hashtag proclaims, #DePaulWomenRock!

Laura Durnell is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is an adjunct in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse Department at DePaul University.

(Learn more about being part of the DePaul Women’s Network during recruitment for 2014-15. Applications are being accepted now until April 4!)

‘Workdate’: Connecting with New Moms at DePaul

For Women’s History Month this March, DWN invited a variety guest authors to share their insights. Read on to see why #DePaulWomenRock!

Louisa Fitzgerald
Louisa Fitzgerald

By Louisa Fitzgerald

In August 2012, my daughter was born. Around the same time, several friends gave birth, and during those first months of new motherhood, we leaned on each other—commiserating about sleep patterns, nursing, developmental milestones and the major life decisions that come with having a kid. For me, as with many people, those decisions included determining whether or not I would continue to work.

I’ll spare you details of my struggle to make this decision, but ultimately, I went back to work full time. And I’m in good company—according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 44 percent of mothers return to work after three months of maternity leave.

While those numbers didn’t make the choice any easier, I had a pretty good sense of what I was giving up in terms of time with my daughter. What I didn’t expect was the loss I felt when I realized that the camaraderie I had with other new moms was slipping away. Choosing to work full time outside of the home meant giving up the important mom connections that are made during the week at the park, storytimes and playdates. But with the added pressures of balancing work with raising a baby and maintaining a household (even with dad shouldering much of the load), it seemed impossible to make those relationships a priority.

Moreover, the parenting issues I face now are largely a byproduct of the decision to work full time outside of the home. I knew that I wanted to strengthen my network of moms who could empathize with my situation. And knowing that time is always at a premium for parents of young children, I decided to make an effort to seek out new moms at DePaul.

Meeting moms is easy. Casual chats with acquaintances in elevators, meetings and even the bathroom easily turn into longer conversations about kids and often end in a passing suggestion of lunch. I used to write these offers off as a polite way to exit a pleasant conversation, but I decided to start making good on them. Once I got over the initial hesitation of sending a follow-up email, I became more proactive with my invitations.

Reaching out in this way forced me to step outside my comfort zone. I’ve never considered myself good at networking, but having motherhood as common ground allowed me to set aside my apprehension and connect with coworkers in a meaningful way. And my efforts have also helped me have a broader understanding what is going on in our university and how other people’s work is important to our shared goals. Ultimately, getting to know the people I work with beyond my team, my department and even my division has made me feel more connected to our DePaul community.

What I’ve found is that making the effort is usually appreciated. I have yet to find a mom who isn’t into the idea of chatting about her kid over lunch with someone who shares similar doubts, concerns, struggles and successes. Bonus: Being sans child usually means you can have a full-on conversation without someone melting down. Moreover, the network I’m creating for myself is playing a vital role in helping me stay sane as a working mom to a young toddler. And for me, right now, sanity is the best perk I can ask for.

Louisa Fitzgerald is Associate Director, Marketing Communications, in the University Marketing Communications, Enrollment Management and Marketing Department at DePaul University.

Network Power

For Women’s History Month this March, DWN invited a variety guest authors to share their insights. Read on to see why #DePaulWomenRock!

Phyllis A. Gregg

By Phyllis A. Gregg

Americans take pride in our independence. From the moment of birth we are taught to be independent, to “go it alone,” to be tough. While being independent and self-sufficient are admirable qualities, I find myself concerned when I see people, especially women, exclude themselves from the opportunity of community. There’s power in community, so consider this a call for a change. Let’s move from independence to interdependence.

To be clear, interdependence isn’t a sign of weakness. Rather, interdependence is a source of power, that’s why women’s networks matter. A women’s network is a vital resource. While women are powerful in their own right (let’s face it, a woman on a mission is a force), when you connect with other women you maximize your power. Today I challenge you to exercise your wisdom and recognize the power of a network.

I know first-hand what a network can do. Over the course of my career I built a network of friends and family, colleagues and professional contacts. My network is a source of strength and a place of refreshment. What does my network do for me? If I need to think through an idea, I reach out to my network. If I need a laugh (and who doesn’t need a laugh), I turn to my network. If I need the comfort of companionship, I relax with my network. The women and men in my network come from all walks of life, and it is their diversity that gives me the courage to meet the challenges facing me. My network empowers and spurs me on to embrace my full potential.

I hope my sharing inspires you to reach out to others and allow others to reach out to you. So many women tell me they don’t have time to network. However, the reality is that you cannot afford to not be part of a network. Without a network, you close yourself off, stifling your personal and professional development. Networking is you investing in yourself and in others. It takes very little to get started but once you do, the returns are incredible!

Phyllis A. Gregg, M.A., joined the DePaul University community in 1992 as an evening coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and currently works in the Office of the President as a Senior Executive Assistant.

She is a doctoral student at DePaul University, Board President of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education and, through the Office of Faith-based Initiatives with the Chicago Public School system, has created and implemented an anti-bullying curriculum for the Safehaven program.

Phyllis is a motivational speaker on issues pertaining to women, spirituality and wholeness, and on topics related to exploring the soul. She spends her evenings in the company of her husband, Gregory, her daughter, Lindsey, and her four grandchildren, Ashleigh, Kevin, Sarah and Kelly.

(Learn more about being part of the DePaul Women’s Network now during recruitment for 2014-15!)

National Catholic Sisters Week Highlights Women’s Leadership

For Women’s History Month this March, DWN invited a variety guest authors to share their insights. Read on to see why #DePaulWomenRock!

Patricia Bombard, BVM
Patricia Bombard, BVM

By Patricia Bombard, BVM

March is my favorite month of the year. There are so many life-giving things to celebrate during March, including Women’s History Month. This year there is an added event: National Catholic Sisters Week, which will debut March 8-14. Last August, St. Catherine University in Minnesota received a $3.3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation “to launch an initiative to heighten public awareness of the lives and contributions of Catholic sisters.”

According to organizers at St. Catherine’s, the new initiative will center on the contributions of Catholic sisters in five areas:

  1. Education
  2. Health care
  3. Social change
  4. The Church and spiritual life
  5. Women’s leadership

Here at DePaul, it is the leadership story of Louise de Marillac, co-founder with St. Vincent de Paul of the Daughters of Charity, which especially inspires us. Though she was born out of wedlock, and never knew her mother, Louise had a loving relationship with her father, Louis de Marillac, who saw to her education and care. Later, as a young widow and single parent, Louise met Vincent, who became her spiritual advisor.

Strongly motivated by her faith, and encouraged by Vincent, Louise eventually gathered a small community of women dedicated to serving the poor by visiting them in their own homes. Perhaps inspired by her own vulnerable background, Louise later led the women in expanding their charitable works to the care of abandoned children. They began by removing 12 children from a government-run facility into their own home. Within five years, the women were caring for as many as 1,200 infants.

Still not finished, the women eventually conducted soup kitchens at three sites in Paris, serving as many as 7,000 meals a day. They also worked to improve the living conditions for prisoners and opened schools to teach occupational skills to poor girls. They also established homes for the elderly, who earned a little money for personal goods through the sale of craft items.

Louise directed all of these activities through a collaborative leadership style that integrated contemplation and action and made extensive use of what we might call today “social networking.”

Louise once wrote to her sisters in community regarding the importance of integrating one’s inner sense of virtue with one’s outer life of serving others: “Oh, my dear Sisters, it is not enough to be Daughters of Charity in name, and it is not enough to be in the service of the poor sick, you must possess the true and solid virtues which you know are essential if you are to accomplish well the work in which you are so happy to be employed. Otherwise, Sisters, your work would be practically useless.”

Sr. Margaret John Kelly, D.C., in writing about Louise’s leadership, describes Louise as a proponent of “gentle power,” which she understood as power tempered by gentleness. Yet at the same time, Kelly says, Louise was a “total realist about her sisters and matched their training to their talents.”

Richard McCullen, C.M., writes that Louise “had a facility of collaborating easily with others.” Vincent himself described her as always expressing “humility, charity, meekness and patience” while at the same time exhibiting “a firmness in all her government” and “sound judgment.”

With Vincent’s help, Louise organized the women as the Daughters of Charity, a community of sisters that eventually spread worldwide. During her lifetime, Louise often wrote to the women stationed away from Paris. Sr. Lucy Archer writes of Louise’s concern for the women expressed in her letters: “Nearly every letter contains news of relatives, enquiries about this one, messages to another…these letters show what thoroughly homely relations existed between Louise and her spiritual daughters.”

Today, there are 18,000 members of the Daughters of Charity serving in 94 countries.

St. Catherine University offers a list of ideas for how other colleges and universities can participate in National Catholic Sisters Week.

If you have yet to see it, I highly recommend viewing “Band of Sisters,” a film by Mary Fishman that premiered in Chicago in 2012. It tells the story of Catholic sisters and their movement into new works of social justice after Vatican II and features many sisters from the Chicago area. In addition, you can pick up a copy of “Sewing Hope,” the extraordinary story of Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe, who received an honorary degree from DePaul’s School for New Learning last December in recognition of her work with young girls brutalized by Ugandan rebels.

It’s March—spring is coming. Get inspired by these women, then go out and spread some seeds of new life!

Patricia Bombard, BVM, is the director of DePaul University’s Vincent on Leadership: The Hay Project, which focuses on research, education and training inspired by the leadership legacy of St. Vincent de Paul. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Public Service.

When Opportunity Knocks, What Do You Do?

DWN President Joy Boggs
Joy Boggs, DWN President 2013-14

By Joy Boggs

One of my favorite quotes belongs to Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” As we begin celebrating Women’s History Month, I am thankful for the women and the men who came before us. I am thankful that they had the vision to recognize opportunity, the courage to seize opportunity with both hands and the fortitude to work with opportunity even in tough times.

I am especially proud of DWN’s founding mothers who turned a problem into an opportunity and an opportunity into a value adding experience for the women of DePaul. In the coming weeks I want you to watch this space. I asked our women colleagues from across the university to contribute their thoughts on the value of being in and participating with a women’s network. I think you will be surprised at what they have to say on the matter.

Check in with us often this March. On the 6th we kick off our Women of Culture Series—a DWN first—and I’m looking forward to the discussions. March 8 is International Women’s Day and it’s also the start of National Catholic Sisters Week. Pat M. Bombard, BVM, Director of Vincent on Leadership: The Hay Project, will be stopping by to share her thoughts on Catholic women’s leadership. I think you will find Pat’s comments a great primer for March 20, when the Network invites DePaul’s resident scholar, Sister Betty Ann McNeil, D.C., to deliver a special guest talk on St. Louise de Marillac’s life and work over tea and treats.

I also asked members of our Network and our Advisory Council to share their experiences of being part of a women’s network. There are some powerful posts coming your way, and I hope they leave you inspired to deepen your connection to DWN. Speaking of deepening your connection, spring is when we make our annual call for members. Have you ever considered formally joining DWN? Well, opportunity is knocking—what are you going to do?

Joy Boggs is President of DePaul Women’s Network for 2013-14 and is Business Manager for the Office of the General Counsel at DePaul University.