Strengthening Ties, Strengthening Brown

In the fall of 2008, Brown University Fellow and Campaign for Academic Enrichment Co-Chair Elizabeth Z. Chace '59, GP’13, together with the 2008 Women's Leadership Council Executive Committee (Susan Friedman ’77, P’08, Genine Fidler ’77, P’04, P’12, Nancy Neff '76, P'06, P'14 and Julie Meister '75, P'03, P'06), established a $1.5 million Women's Leadership Challenge.

Designed to honor President Ruth J. Simmons' commitment to higher education and to inspire greater leadership giving among Brown alumnae, the challenge offered to a dollar-for-dollar match for any new gifts or commitments of $50,000 or more from alumnae.

Alumnae greeted the Challenge enthusiastically, making gifts from $50,000 all the way up to the $500,000 level. Contributions were designated toward the Brown Annual Fund, the Brown University Sports Foundation, endowed scholarships, faculty and program support, the Pembroke Center's endowment, Farsi language instruction, and more. Participating women raised a total of $1.7 million for the University.

The success of the Challenge was a remarkable accomplishment for the Council and spoke to the philanthropic culture at Brown. "Having Ruth as Brown's president has made a huge difference," says Chace. "It's done more than almost anything in bringing women's issues forward." "And," adds Friedman, "if the women are strengthened, the whole campus will be strengthened.”