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.


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.

Recognize a Modern-Day Louise for the WSA Awards

As we prepare for the 2013-14 Women of Spirit & Action Awards on November 5, DWN Communications Team Member Clarissa Fidler chose to reflect on what it means to be a woman of spirit and action in modern times.

Don’t think you have anything in common with a French Catholic saint who lived during the 17th century? Look again. St. Louise de Marillac was a wife, mother, nurse, social worker, teacher and community organizer. Louise lived centuries before us in a time and place far removed from today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing world. And yet, the qualities Louise possessed and roles she filled are all relevant to today’s modern woman.

Who is a modern-day Louise?

A modern-day Louise possesses a spirit of service. She looks outside herself for opportunities to influence others for good. Service comes in many sizes and forms. Those of you who participated in last month’s American Heart Association Heart Walk gave of your time and means to support the greater good. Small daily acts of kindness, such as holding the door for a mom with a stroller and unruly three-year-old or calling a friend to see how he or she is doing, all demonstrate Louise’s spirit of service.

WSA Louise Wordle webA modern-day Louise shows true concern and compassion for her associates. She is careful not to pass judgment on others and seeks to be in tune with the needs of those around her. A modern-day Louise takes the time to connect with a new coworker or neighbor by inviting her to lunch or out to coffee. Her commitment to personalism is demonstrated through her daily interactions. Giving a sincere thank you to the bus driver or volunteering to take on a new responsibility at work to help out a coworker are both examples of compassionate personalism.

A modern-day Louise gets things done. She bravely charges forward to complete her many tasks in arenas ranging from the home to the workplace to the community. Some days getting something done may be as simple as getting the kids to school and yourself to work on time. Other days this may be successfully executing a project or event that has required months of preparation and teamwork. No matter the obstacles, a modern-day Louise perseveres until the job is finished.

Nominate a modern-day Louise

DePaul Women’s Network encourages all faculty, staff and students to honor a modern-day Louise. Nominations for the 2013-14 Women of Spirit and Action Awards will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 22. Click here for details on how to nominate your modern-day Louise, and register now to attend the awards ceremony.

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.

DePaul Center Promotes Women in STEM through Lecture Series

In advance of the Jeanne LaDuke Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Annual Lecture Series on Oct. 17, DWN Communications Team Member Dorothy Griggs visited the DePaul University STEM Center to find out about its history and role in the series. Read on to see what she learned.

STEMI recently had the pleasure of meeting with DePaul University STEM Center Director Lynn C. Narasimhan and Associate Director Victoria Simek. The STEM Center (formerly the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Center), has been in existence since July 2000 and is housed on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus at 990 W. Fullerton Ave. When the College of Science and Health separated from the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences in 2011, the center officially adopted its new name and continued its work providing universitywide programming in STEM disciplines, which include science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The History of STEM and the LaDuke Series

One of the many exciting things the STEM Center is responsible for is managing the annual Jeanne LaDuke Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Annual Lecture Series. The LaDuke Series is named after Jeanne LaDuke, associate professor emeritus in the Department of Mathematics. This lecture series was created in 2005 by Dr. LaDuke’s colleagues, and Dr. LaDuke kicked off the series in May 2005 by presenting “Women Who Count: Pioneers in American Mathematics.”

When I inquired what it was about Dr. LaDuke that would compel her co-workers to create such a great offering on her behalf, Victoria responded that Dr. LaDuke was an exceptionally dedicated professor who was always willing to help her colleagues, and that she was very inspirational. While all of these attributes are admirable, I am inclined to believe that the operative word here is inspirational. Hopefully, all of us have been fortunate enough to have had teachers who inspired us. It is an intangible quality that not all possess, but similar to genius, you know when you are in its presence. And as a direct result of the LaDuke Lecture Series, Dr. LaDuke’s inspirational spirit will be felt for many years to come.

For this year’s guest speaker, the LaDuke Faculty Committee has invited Dr. Melissa Gilliam, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago. Dr. Gilliam’s research focuses on populations that are at risk of poor reproductive health. Due to the complexity of the issue, Dr. Gilliam understood the importance of incorporating other disciplines in her research, and to that end has established The Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3), as well as the Game Changer Design Lab at the University of Chicago.

This Year’s LaDuke Lecture

Now in its ninth year, the Jeanne LaDuke Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Annual Lecture Series will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m., at the McGowan South, Room 108, 1110 W. Belden Ave. A reception will immediately follow. RSVPs are encouraged by emailing Victoria at vsimek@depaul.edu, but do not fret if you forget, just come on out and hear what Dr. Gilliam has to say about this important issue.

Prior to the lecture, there will be a special session for students interested in having the opportunity to have “face time” with Dr. Gilliam, and the chance to pose questions that are pertinent to their current studies and interests. This meeting will run for an hour, starting at 4:30 p.m., and will be held in McGowan South, Room 204. Refreshments will be served.

What’s Next for the STEM Center

In selecting speakers for the LaDuke Lecture Series, Victoria stated that the goal is to select local women from various disciplines. When I inquired whether the focus at the STEM Center was predominately on the women student population, Lynn informed me that the STEM Center supports both men and women equally in the STEM disciplines. She went on to share that she is currently teaching a course for middle school mathematics teachers and, among other things, is presenting them with a new paradigm of teaching to help change the mindset of their students from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. This course work is based on the research findings of Dr. Carol S. Dweck, and the objective is to supply teachers with the tools to help middle school students understand that they can be proficient in math if they persevere, even if math does not come easily to them, and even if they have been unsuccessful at math in the past.

That morning in the STEM Center as Lynn and Victoria spoke passionately about the work they do and the positive ramification of the research that is being done, their passion was palpable. Afterward, Lynn forwarded me a couple of her resources to read to further my understanding of her work. It was an honor to have had the unique opportunity to meet and talk at length with these two women. Opportunities such as these are, I believe, one of the great benefits of being a member of the DePaul Women’s Network.

But as all good things must come to an end, when the 15 minutes that I had initially requested quickly turned into 40, I bid a gracious good-bye. And as I stepped out of their building onto Fullerton and into the bright sunlit day, I must admit that I felt happy with the way the interview went, but mostly I felt inspired.

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.

Support Inclusivity During LGBTQA Month in May

Join DePaul University in celebrating the 6th annual LGBTQA month this May. The month is partly sponsored by the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Queer and Ally Student Services, which exists to promote, foster and support a campus environment that is inclusive of people from all sexualities and gender identities.

Highlights for the month include:

  • 30 events scheduled on both Lincoln Park and Loop campuses
  • 23 sponsors ranging from student groups to university offices
  • Community resource fairs in Lincoln Park (May 9, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Lincoln Park Student Center Atrium) and the Loop (May 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; DePaul Center 11th Floor)
  • DiverseCity Tours to learn about Chicago neighborhoods Andersonville and Boystown
  • A mix of cultural offerings, such as a theatre outing and film screening, mixed together with academic speakers and health events (including HIV testing)

If you have questions about events, please contact LGBTQA Student Services at (773) 325-7294 or LGBTQAServices@depaul.edu.

LGBTQA May 2013

How to Support Sexual Assault Survivors

It’s easy to respond to a speaker who prompts the audience to say “cat,” “hat” and “bicycle.” But why does everyone hesitate when the word is “rape”? DePaul student Anna Nettie Hanson, a sexual assault survivor and author, says she knows why: “Rape is absolutely a difficult subject to talk about.” But, as she discussed at a DePaul Women’s Network Brown Bag luncheon on April 24, people must get past that fear in order to discuss an important topic.

The “Empowering through Assistance” event had two parts. First, Hanson told her personal story of surviving sexual assault and answered questions from the audience. Then, Rima Shaw, sexual health and violence prevention coordinator with DePaul’s Office of Health Promotion & Wellness, shared best practices and university resources that staff and faculty can embrace to show more support to friends in their own lives and to university students.

The event provided the following insight on how to support sexual assault survivors.

Anna Nettie Hanson book1. Start talking (Even if It’s Uncomfortable)

Hanson, who is studying communications and Spanish in DePaul’s honors program, told her personal story of being raped as a high school senior in 2011. To deal with the experience, she wrote a book, “For Now: Words of the Girl Who Fought Back.” Hanson acknowledged that sharing her story, as tough as it is, is part of what helps her heal and is a way to connect with others: “I don’t do it because it’s easy. I do it because it’s important.”

2. Raise Awareness

In her presentation, Hanson shared important statistics about sexual assault:

  • In America, one in six women will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault in her lifetime. In the world, that ratio is one in three.
  • Of 100 rapes, only five to 20 are ever reported. Of those reported, just 0.2 to five include a conviction. Unlike many cases that go unprosecuted, Hanson was able to see her attacker convicted and jailed.
  • In the United States, there are 400,000 untested rape kits.

3. Lend Your Support

During the question portion, an audience member asked how to help a loved one after an assault. Hanson talked about the importance of being supportive if you’re unsure of how to act: “I give you the permission to not know what to say. … You can just say, ‘I’m here.’”

Shah echoed that sentiment in her presentation on “Supporting Our Student Survivors.”

  • Begin by offering emotional support when someone comes to you with news of an assault. Listen and let the person know you are supportive: “I believe you.” “You did not deserve this.” “It was not your fault.”
  • Give the person options and let them make decisions. For example, provide referrals to on- and off-campus support services.
  • Don’t tell the person how to feel.
  • Don’t worry too much about saying the right thing; just focus on being there.

4. Do Your Research: Resources for Supporting Students

The Office of Health Promotion & Wellness has a number of handouts for faculty and staff who want to learn more about supporting students. Here are just a few resources DePaul faculty and staff should remember:

DePaul’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month by the Numbers

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and DePaul has numerous activities to help the university community address this important topic. See the calendar below for events to catch through the end of the month, including DWN’s Brown Bag Luncheon, “Empowering Through Assistance.”

Highlights and key numbers for the month of programming:

  • 17 events are scheduled across the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses.
  • The month has been made possible through 24 collaborations with campus departments and student groups, as well as through collaborations with 7 community partners.
  • There has been a special effort to bring 3 different events that are targeted specifically at men, engaging them in conversations around consent and as role models on campus.
  • 1 event is specifically targeted at staff and faculty: DWN’s Brown Bag Lunceon on April 24, which came out of need to discuss ways staff and faculty can best support survivors.

For more information, please contact DePaul’s Office of Health Promotion & Wellness at (773) 325-7295.

How will you participate in DePaul’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Please tell us in the comments below.

SAAM 2013 calendar