10th Annual Women of Spirit & Action Awards: Finding Balance and Community

By Lauren Kriz

On November 6, the DePaul Women’s Network celebrated its 10th Annual Women of Spirit and Action Awards with the support of staff and faculty from across the university. Despite the fact that I have worked at DePaul for more than five years, this was my first time attending the event, and I was pleased by the number of people in the audience, both men and women, who had gathered to honor an impressive list of DePaul women for their service to the university.

The atmosphere in the room was inviting and celebratory, making the event an exciting highlight at the start of DWN’s year. Jen Fox, the president of DWN, began the event by asking the audience to join her in honoring the “modern-day Louises in our midst—the women faculty, staff and students who help move this great university’s mission forward” and who are leaders across campus.

WSA Awards 1
Before the keynote speaker took the stage, Fox also spoke about the 2014-15 DWN theme, “Women’s Ways of Wellness,” and how DWN will offer a number of programs meant to help DePaul women find balance in six different aspects of wellness: emotional, physical, vocational, spiritual, community and social. To kick off this year’s theme and to honor St. Louise and the DePaul recipients of this year’s awards, DWN picked a special speaker: Dr. Vie Thorgren, the founder and director of the Center for Spirituality at Work, where they aim to “unite diverse people for spirituality and social justice.” Dr. Thorgren came to DePaul from Denver to speak from a Vincentian perspective about holistic wellness, how it applies to our lives at DePaul and how belonging to a community can help us on our path to wellness.

Dr. Thorgren began by talking about the center and how it invites professionals to act as mentors for women who are re-entering the workforce from prison. These professional mentors are trained by women from the prison, who are also members of the board, a format that is uniquely Vincentian in that everyone participates in every aspect of the organization.

Dr. Thorgren then gave a brief biography of St. Louise and how it now seems clear that for Louise’s entire life she had a “yearning for belonging.” After many years of searching, she eventually found that she belonged to God and thus to her brothers and sisters, an idea that was instrumental to her founding of the Daughters of Charity, who provide outreach to all communities, whether rich or poor. Dr. Thorgren spoke about how St. Louise can give us perspective on wellness today related to the idea of belonging. She said that having a sense of belonging can lead to health and lacking a sense of belonging can lead to unease; finding our own sense of belonging is important for establishing balance in our lives. Belonging keeps us centered and gives us life. We begin using “we” when we interact with the communities around us—instead of only focusing on “I”—and that new focus is enriching and empowering and healthy. She spoke about how belonging “makes claims on us.” People in the communities to which we belong know that we have each become “one of the primary resources of [our] brothers and sisters,” and this knowledge lays the foundation of trust and security necessary to maintain a strong community of support.

Dr. Thorgren gave us four areas that she thought were important as we begin to develop our communities.

  1. Each of us needs two types of relationships in our lives. The first is supportive and is with people who have always nurtured and cared for us. The second is a relationship we must develop with “sandpaper people” or people who do not always like us or think like us, but are the people that help us grow.
  2. There is a difference between “do-goodism” and real service, which is about how the act of someone giving service and someone receiving service should be mutually transforming and leave us energized, instead of burnt out like many do-gooders.
  3. There is great importance in having “fallow time” or down time, when we must help ourselves remember the difference between being productive and being fruitful.
  4. We should take problems and really see them and then receive them as gifts. Though we may not always feel like we have the tools to cope with the problems that are presented to us, if we stop and recognize those problems, we may find that though the tools are not always what we expected, we can find them in ourselves. Here she gave us the example of someone she knows from the center, who took skills she had learned in her criminal past and turned them into marketable skills, working hard in her job until she was trusted enough to be put in charge of her office for an entire month.

Dr. Thorgren challenged many of us to think not only about developing our sense of belonging and community, which we have learned is important to our wellness, but also to be aware of the ways in which we go about developing that sense. The perspective of community and belonging that Dr. Thorgren provided in her keynote, along with the knowledge she gave of St. Louise, was a perfect way for DWN to kick off our year and assist DePaul’s women on their ways to wellness.

After Dr. Thorgren spoke, the group celebrated 105 DePaul women for their roles as modern-day Louises. I left my first Women of Spirit and Action Awards with a newfound respect for St. Vincent’s right-hand woman, and also for the many women working beside me, who continue to emulate and develop the community that St. Vincent and St. Louise began hundreds of years ago.

Lauren Kriz is a member of the DWN Marketing & Communications team and the Operations Coordinator in the Office of Student Records at DePaul University.

WSA 2

DWN Faculty Panel Reveals Lessons for All Working Women

On April 25, the DePaul Women’s Network hosted “Faculty Service Opportunities and Career Development Panel.” DWN Communications Team Member Laura Durnell recaps and reflects upon what participating in the event taught her.

Laura Durnell

Right before the DePaul Women’s Network’s final event of the 2013-2014 year, The Atlantic published an article called “The Confidence Gap.” In the article, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman presented evidence that showed women in the workforce shortchanging themselves through not pursuing opportunities or broadcasting accomplishments simply because of a lack of self-assurance.

DWN’s event reflected the issues mentioned in the article. “Twenty percent of full professors are women,” said panelist and English Professor Anne Clark Bartlett, who also serves as Special Assistant to the Provost for Innovation and Academic Planning. This revelation regarding women in academia also relates to the number of women in the workforce outside the Ivory Tower who do not often pursue or hold positions of leadership.

Even though this panel was specifically marketed to full-time faculty on the tenure track and focused on the role service plays in tenure decisions, much of the advice presented also applies to adjunct faculty, DePaul staff and all women in the workforce. Overall, the panelists provided advice and suggestions about taking initiative, strategically planning activities, and being thoughtful with time commitments regarding work advancement—all activities that would not only help build careers in and outside academia, but also build confidence.

During the panel, the accomplished and inspiring panelists used those effective strategies to discuss the role service plays in tenure decisions. The panelists also shared their stories and advice about the best way to plan and participate in service. Roxanne Owens from the College of Education, who now serves as Chair for the Department of Teacher Education, said she has served on some committees she didn’t want to, but serving allowed her to get her name out to her department and DePaul.

“But don’t be a martyr [with volunteering],” Owens warned. “Yet if you agree to serve on a committee, show up!”

Mona Shattell from the College of Nursing, who is now Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, said service has given her opportunities to serve on committees outside of her nursing field and to better get to know DePaul and its students. For example, she served as the faculty advisor to the DePaul Women’s A Cappella Chorus.
When she started on the tenure track, Shattell said she looked at her career goals and didn’t join a service opportunity unless it matched her goals, emphasizing, “It helped me write my narrative and align my service.”

Like Shattell, Bartlett made her service align with her goals. Until she received tenure, Bartlett devoted most of her service within her research concentration of medieval literature, specifically medieval women’s literature. During her early years on the tenure track, Bartlett organized conference panels in her field, participated in professional organizations, and spent the rest of her energy and time on research and teaching. Once she became an associate professor, Bartlett began serving on university committees, including a stint as the Faculty Council President. However, Bartlett believes a lot of service early in a professor’s career can be “a disaster. Service opportunities are always going to be there.”

Slightly disagreeing with Bartlett, Judy Bundra from the College of Music, who is also Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, encouraged professors on the tenure track to grab the service opportunities that are available and to pick ones that have a wide impact. “To not do any committees university-wide is not wise,” said Bundra. Since her adjunct days, Bundra has risen to the rank of associate professor and served as a Faculty Council representative and department dean.

Maggie Oppenheimer from the Economics Department in the College of Business echoed other panelists in stressing the importance of making contacts within one’s own field as well as at DePaul. “Get on conference programs or organizations,” Oppenheimer said. Through her service inside and outside DePaul, Bundra said she “got her name out” as well as DePaul’s.

Regarding collegiality and reputation, all of the panelists advised not just signing up for service but truly fulfilling the responsibility of serving. “It’s not in the handbook, but being a good colleague and doing your share is important,” Oppenheimer said. Current Faculty Council Chair and College of Communication Professor Michaela Winchatz agreed, mentioning the frustration regarding the noticeable absence of others when the same people repeatedly volunteer and other faculty lay low.

As important as service is, Owens cautioned tenure-track faculty members from using service as a way to avoid research. In a post-panel email, Owens wrote, “I believe people need to contribute to the university, their college, their department and their professional community through service activities—but they also need to be aware of when they are overcommitting themselves to service as a way to avoid something they might struggle with a bit more (such as writing).”

Finally, one such piece of advice that any academic and professional can embrace came from Shattell via Twitter: “Keep your CV not only up-to-date but up to the minute!”

Read more about the Twitter conversation during the panel in our Storify recap.

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

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.

Where and When I Enter: Intersectionality, African-American Women and Higher Education

As Part of DePaul Women’s Network Women of Culture Series, DWN, in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity, and the School for New Learning, had the honor to recently present: “Where and When I Enter: Intersectionality, African-American Women and Higher Education”, featuring Dr. Venus Evans-Winters, Associate Professor of Education at Illinois State University. Read on for DWN Communications Team Member Dorothy Griggs’ recap of the event. 

By Dorothy Griggs

Dorothy Griggs
DWN Communications Team Member Dorothy Griggs

Dr. Evans-Winters is an Associate Professor of Education at Illinois State University in the department of Educational Administration and Foundations, and is a Faculty Affiliate with Women & Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies.  Dr. Evans-Winters’ research and teaching interests are the sociology of education, educational policy, critical race theory and feminism.  Dr. Evans-Winters is also a therapist and the author of the book, Teaching Black Girls – Resiliency in Urban Classrooms.

An energetic speaker with an infectious laugh and the uncanny ability to make her audience feel more like kinfolk than strangers, Dr. Venus Evans-Winters began her talk by showing a YouTube video of Nina Simone on stage singing, “Four Women,” where she sang about four of the many varied and distinct histories of African-American women.  While the song itself is over forty years old, it speaks to the intersectionality of racism, sexism and classism that still exists today.

Dr. Evans-Winters spoke about some of the issues faced by African-American women in higher education.  Most are well known and well-documented:

  • Fewer African-Americans receive tenure
  • Inequity in pay
  • Only allowed to teach race and gender specific classes
  • The number of diverse faculty members not keeping pace with the increased diversity of the student body

She went on to speak on issues that are not as obvious – mini abrasions, she called them:

  • Walking into a room of your peers and it being assumed that you are the support staff
  • Ideas and opinions devalued
  • Personal choices of how to wear one’s hair negatively impacting evaluations, which in turn, negatively impacts opportunities for tenure
  • When speaking up, the risk of  being labeled an “angry Black woman”

When looking to quickly gauge a company’s values and culture, many African-Americans know that it is often as simple as looking around for someone who looks like them.  Do they span the ranks of the organization from the top down, or are they all clustered near the bottom?  The color and gender of the top hierarchy of any organization speaks louder than its motto or mission statement.

Dr. Evans-Winters stated that no one should be the only “one.”  If a company recruits an African-American executive, there should be other African-American executives for her to be able to elicit support, from the perspective of being one of the few.  The same thinking applies to students.

Dr. Evans-Winters spoke on how the Eurocentric, privileged and elitist culture of higher education is vastly different from the cultural many African-Americans have grown up in.  And while most Blacks are well versed in the culture of White Americans, the larger population knows very little about the psyche of African-Americans, due in part to the fact that the little research that is conducted deals primarily with the pathologies and deficiencies of that population.  Dr. Evans-Winters believes that to better understand African-Americans, research would be better served by focusing on the resiliency and strength of character that allowed African-Americans to rise from the depths of slavery.

Many African-Americans in higher education feel that they must split their identities and conform to the ideologies and culture of the dominant race in order to be successful.  But wherever people of color go, they bring their history, their culture, and their unique perspective of the world.

A one time practicing therapist, Dr. Evans-Winters talked of how there was never any psychological therapy given to Blacks when slavery ended.  None was offered following the mass lynching of black men or, in more recent history, following the abolition of Jim Crow.  Black women have learned to lean on one other to overcome these and numerous other hardships and atrocities, the effects of which outsiders cannot begin to comprehend.

To that end, Dr. Evans-Winters advocates that Black women should have a ‘Room of One’s Own,’ where they can create a safe place to share their stories, a place of community to nurture and heal, time to network with one another, and a loving environment with de-colonized images of beauty.

Additionally, women of color need allies from higher-ups, equal pay, students educated in a pluralistic democracy, professional development, and cultural diversity in the work place, with the goal being the humanization of the individual.

Dorothy Griggs is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is the department assistant for the Center for Students with Disabilities at DePaul University.

Identity & Inclusion: When Difference Makes the Difference

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

Happy Black History Month!

I am old enough to remember when celebrating Black History was limited to the third week in February. Despite the limitations, Black History was a special time at Mark T. Skinner School. Preparations for our weeklong celebration would begin in January with MLK Day (Illinois was the first state to adopt the day as a state holiday). We were never taught the “I Have a Dream” speech; instead, we studied The Movement as a textbook in transformation. We learned how to step beyond the limits of circumstances into new fields of action. What I remember and cherish most about those days was how teachers, administrators, and staff set aside hierarchy and title to hold open an intergenerational dialogue with us students. They created a context for us to embrace our difference as a power instead of a handicap.

Something similar is about to happen on our DePaul campus on Tuesday, February 25. You may heard or seen the invitation to the Diversity Forum on February. For the first time ever in the history of our university, all five affinity groups (DPUBLC, LEAD, ELEVATE, and the LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Network), are coming together to open up a dialogue between faculty and staff about what it means to be a member of the DePaul family. The forum, “Identity & Inclusion: When Difference Makes the Difference,” will feature opening comments by DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., followed by a keynote address delivered by Patricia Arredondo, president of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

The opening reception will be followed by concurrent sessions that will focus on:

  • Identity development through social media
  • Religious diversity in the workplace
  • Constructing allyship across identity lines
  • Vincentian personalism for the classroom

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to participate in a conversation for transformation. The forum, which is free and open to DePaul faculty and staff, runs 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Park Student Center. Space is limited, so please register by February 19.

We can’t wait to see you!

Joy

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.

How to Make the Most Out of Career Opportunities

On Jan. 29, the DePaul Women’s Network hosted a career panel with staff at various levels from around the university. Here, DWN Communications Team Member Clarissa Fidler relates lessons from the event.

Just ask. Be honest. Challenge yourself. Be confident.

Fantastic insight and advice abounded at DWN’s career panel, “Making the Most Out of Career Opportunities,” held at the Lincoln Park Campus on Wednesday, January 29.

Four panelists, who serve in diverse roles across the university, shared their professional journeys and milestones, while offering advice about career development. They stressed the importance of asking for more responsibility, taking personal inventory of your desires and commitments, and not being deterred by a non-linear career path. The panel was well attended by DePaul staff members and received extensive praise both in person and on Twitter.

Emily Meisenzahl, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, had this to say about the event: “I loved it. It was helpful and gave me several tips to get more involved with DePaul and network better across departments. DWN did a great job choosing panelists as well as the topics. Very impressed! ”

Our panelists included:

  • Brian Cicirello, Instructional Technology Consultant, Office of Mission and Values
  • Mary McGuinness, Director of Workplace Learning and Performance within Human Resources
  • Samuel D. Morgan, Academic Advisor/Assistant Director of Credentialing, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • Lauren Paez, Associate Director of Academic Advising, College of Science and Health, Office of Advising and Student Services

To see more of what our panelists and attendees had to say, check out our event Storify.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, hashtag: #DWNevent. The event was also recorded and will soon be available to download on iTunes U.

(Also: If you’re a DePaul graduate looking for more career and professional development tips, be sure to check out DePaul’s annual Career Week, coming up Feb. 9-15!)

Jobs Panel
DePaul staff members speak at DWN’s jobs panel.

Clarissa Fidler is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is a department assistant for the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse at DePaul University.

Spirited Advice from the Women of Spirit & Action Awards

On Nov. 5, the DePaul University community joined together in the spirit of St. Louise de Marillac’s legacy to celebrate more than 100 faculty, staff and student honorees at the 2013-14 Women of Spirit & Action (WSA) Awards ceremony. The event was co-sponsored by the DePaul Women’s Network (DWN) and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity. DWN Communications Team Member Jaclyn Hugg recaps and reflects upon the key themes of the signature DWN event.

If you attended the WSA Awards ceremony this week, chances are something about the event left an impression on you. Perhaps it was the fellowship you shared with colleagues and students over breakfast, a story told by the keynote speaker, or the joy you felt in either receiving a WSA award or knowing someone else who did.

For me, the vibrant essence of the celebration, which challenged notions of purpose and leadership and recognized the good works of women across the institution, prompted some internal inquiry that I would like to share with you, and ask that you ponder as well.

WSA MirrorWhen I look in the mirror, who do I see in the reflection? Do I see a friend, a sister, a mentor, a leader? Do I see a woman of spirit and action? Who am I, and who am I becoming?

When contemplating these questions, I began to reference the wisdom shared with us by the event’s keynote speaker, Connie Lindsey. Whereas Lindsey shared a whole host of valuable research and advice, I offer up the following five takeaways from her address that resonated most with me:

1. Match intention with attention

Do you wake up each morning and set an intention for the day? If so, are you mindful about matching your intention with your attention in order to accomplish what you set out to do? Lindsey said that we all suffer from what she calls, “intention deficit disorder.” It is simple human nature to get off-task and forget what we originally planned to accomplish. However, the good news is that, with practice, we can easily train ourselves to refocus our attention to align with our intentions.

2. Collaborate

As leaders, it is imperative to band together toward a common goal. As Lindsey explained, “There is no prize to being the lonely only.” Collaboration becomes increasingly vital for leaders who are women, because in order to create more balanced leadership, our voices need to be heard. More voices = bigger impact!

3. Stir up the bottom

Lindsey told a story of a time when she and her husband were spending a morning together one weekend, enjoying a hot cup of coffee—a vanilla latte, to be exact. The first couple sips of the drink caught her off-guard because she did not taste any of the vanilla flavoring. It was not until she stirred her coffee, that it began to taste like the vanilla latte she expected. “If you stir up the bottom,” she said, “the flavor can rise to the top.” And so I ask, what’s in your cup of life? What has been living inside of you just waiting to surface?

4. Don’t be afraid to love

Can love coexist with leadership? Absolutely—it should! “This is not the sentimental kind of love. Rather, it’s the kind that uplifts and strengthens,” Lindsey clarified.

5. Establish principles to live by

Lindsey shared a number of principles that have helped shape and guide her life, and encouraged the audience to establish a set of their own.

  • Be willing to stand alone
  • Live and walk in integrity
  • Listen twice as much as you speak
  • Live fearlessly and authentically by being bold and courageous
  • Connect your soul with your role

If I have captured your attention this long, I would like to offer you some homework. The assignment: Take a look in the mirror to assess how you—both as an individual and as a member of the DePaul family—are contributing to the noble quest to live more like St. Louise. Who do you see in the mirror’s reflection? What has your spirit been called to act on?

Remember that the ideals of compassionate personalism and the ability to get things done, demonstrated by St. Louise, can be lived out in many sizes and forms of service. If you are a student, maybe this means that you join and/or take on a leadership role within a student organization such as HerCDM or Future Women in Finance. For faculty and staff, perhaps you decide to participate in DePaul’s annual Vincentian Service Day, write a letter of recommendation for a student whom you mentor or get involved with DWN. The opportunities truly are endless to make your mark at DePaul and to embody the qualities of a modern-day Louise through spirit and action.

We would like to thank the following DWN members and friends of the Network for their contributions to this year’s WSA Awards ceremony: Sister Katie Norris, D.C.; keynote speaker Connie Lindsey; DWN leaders Joy Boggs, Jennifer McClelland and Aileen Johnson; and the full DWN Service & Outreach Team.

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.