125 Years of Women at Brown Conference

125 Years of Women at Brown Conference

On May 5-6, 2017, Brown welcomed generations of alumnae back to campus for the 125 Years of Women at Brown Conference. Over 700 women ranging from the classes of the 1950s through 2016 - including one alumna from the class of 1949 - attended the conference.

The two-day conference in May featured:

Following the Conference, President Christina Paxson wrote, "With alumnae like you, nothing can stop Brown from making an ever-increasing mark on the world through rigorous and insightful scholarship, innovative educations, and the preparation of women - and men - for lives of impact and meaning."

Re-live the Conference and see some of our favorite moments:



Panels and Speakers

From Brown Women to Business Women: GPS or Random Walk?
The definition of "success" in business is different for every woman who is building a career on her own terms. These women, all at various points in their professional lives, discussed their successes, failures, and the lessons they have learned on their individual paths.

  • Sarah Francois-Poncet '80, P'10 (Moderator) Senior Vice President, Global General Counsel, Chanel
  • Lisa M. Caputo '86, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Communications, The Travelers Companies
  • Karen M. Hoguet '78, Chief Financial Officer, Macy's
  • Sophie Purdom '16, Associate Consultant, Bain & Company

Women for a Change: Brown Women in Grant Making and Beyond
Brown women are at the top rungs of major grant makers. This panel of women discussed their approach to the world of social good in their professional lives, and provided advice to women about their own philanthropic endeavors.

  • Dana Zucker '90, P'21 (Moderator) Executive Director, The Gray Foundation
  • Caitlin Heising '12, Vice Chair, Heising-Simons Foundation
  • Suzanne Immerman '94, Principal, KIR Consulting
  • Stacy Palmer '82, Editor, Chronicle of Philanthropy

What's New at Brown in Education Innovation
Dean of the College and members of her team discussed how Brown is working to ensure continued excellence in our model of undergraduate education, specifically in the area of Educational Innovation.

  • Dean Maud Mandel, Ph.D. ADE'06 hon. (Moderator) Dean of the College
  • Maitrayee Bhattacharyya '91, Senior Associate Dean of the College for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Carol Cohen '83, Senior Associate Dean of the College for Class Advising/Health and Personal Issues
  • Besesnia Rodriguez '00, Senior Associate Dean of the College for Curriculum

Work and Life: How Working Women Manage Demands on Their Time in a 24/7 World
There are never enough hours in the day for work, family, and self. Women discussed the priorities they have chosen and how they have (or have not) found their way to a mindful life.

  • Pamela F. Lenehan '74 AM'74, P'03, P'06 (Moderator) Board Director, Monotype, Civitas Solutions, American Super Conductor
  • Marcia Walley Blenko '83, Advisory Partner, Bain & Company
  • Peige Katz '91, CEO and Co-founder, Bexchange LLC
  • Alexandra Fidler Metzl '04, Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP
  • Chandra Reddy Metzler '95, Strategic Partner, CM Squared

Social Enterprise: Brown Women Using Innovative and Entrepreneurial Approaches to Effect Social Change
Brown women have always been at the forefront of addressing societal problems by reconceiving the status quo, and, more importantly, by converting their great ideas into reality. This panel is comprised of women who are taking a unique approach to creating a more sustainable and just world. They spoke about the skills, knowledge, and relationships that have helped them develop and implement innovative and thoughtful approaches to social change.

  • Diana Wells '88 (Moderator), President, Ashoka
  • Miriam Altman '08, Co-founder and CEO, Kinvolved
  • Holly Gordon '93, Chairman, The Nantucket Project Academy
  • Aleta Margolis '89, P'20, President, Center for Inspired Teaching
  • Linh Tran '15, Co-founder, XOI Juice

Changing Faces and Facing Change: Diversifying Higher Education in America
In this panel inspired by the Pembroke Center, panelists examined how the Lamphere Case forced institutional changes at Brown and heralded a new era. Questions asked included how diversity and including fare on campuses today, how educational institutions are keeping up with the social and intellectual diversity of the global economy, and what work remains.

  • Tanya Hernandez '86, P'20 (Moderator) Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
  • Christine Grant '84, Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Special Initiatives, College of Engineering, North Carolina State University
  • Joelle Murchison '95, Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, UCONN
  • Hannelore Rodriguez-Farrar '87 AM'90 PHD'09, Senior Advisor for Strategy and Planning, Dominican University of California
  • Susan P. Sturm '76, Professor, Law and Social Responsibility, Columbia Law School

Influence: Arts & Media
Conference attendees heard from some of Brown's most prestigious women in the arts about the impact women have in America's most talked-about film, theater, television, and digital media productions.

  • Lauren Zalaznick '84, P'17, P'19 (Moderator) The LZ Sunday Paper
  • Aunjanue L. Ellis '93, Actress and Producer
  • Liz Garbus '92, Director, Moxie Firecracker
  • Liviya B. Kraemer '10, Producer, HBO
  • Christine Vachon '83, Film Producer, Killer Films

The Value of Gender Diversity in STEM Fields
Studies suggest that many factors contribute to the attitudes and achievements of women in mathematics and science. Panelists discussed the influences that led them to a STEM career and their unique perspectives on gender diversity in the workplace.

  • Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D. Ph.D. '90 (Moderator) Director, Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies, MIT
  • Tejal Desia '94, Professor in Physiology, Division of Bioengineering, University of California, San Francisco; Head of the Therapeutic Mirco and Nanotechnology Laboratory
  • Deirdre Hanford '83, Executive Vice President and Co-GM, Synopsys
  • Andrea Razzaghi '82, Deputy Director of Astrophysics, NASA
  • Mya Roberson '16, Epidemiology MSPH-PhD Student, UNC-Chapel Hill

Write Through This: Authors in the New Normal
Writers discussed their creative process and how they achieved success in their careers.

  • Lisa R. Birnbach '78, P'20 (Moderator) Author, The Official Preppy Handbook
  • Bess Kalb '10, Writer, Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Amy Sohn '95, Author, Run Catch Kiss

Ventures in Entrepreneurship

  • Marcia J. Hooper '77, P'09, P'11 (Moderator) Venture Capitalist
  • Cheryl M. Houser '83, P'13, P'19, Founder and CEO, Creative Breed
  • Heidi Messer-Martin '92, Co-founder and Chair, Collective[i]
  • Lorine Pendleton, Esq. '91, Angel Investor and Investment Partner, Portfolia Fund

Perfecting Your Pitch: Brown Young Entrepreneurship Showcase
Brown young entrepreneurs gave their "elevator pitch" to a panel of entrepreneurial alumnae who asked questions and provided advice.

  • Theresia Gouw '90 (Moderator) Co-founder, Aspect Ventures
  • Marcia J. Hooper '77, P'09, P'11, Venture Capitalist
  • Cheryl M. Houser '83, P'13, P'19, Founder and CEO, Creative Breed
  • Heidi Messer-Martin '92, Co-founder and Chair, Collective[i]
  • Lorine Pendleton, Esq. '91, Angel Investor and Investment Partner, Portfolia Fund

Celebrating Brown's Female Athletes
Alumnae celebrated Brown's female athletes and screened The Drive to Win: 40 Years of Brown's Women's Crew.

  • Kimberly Insalaco Legg '03 (Moderator), Director, Brown University Sports Foundation
  • Allison Galer '11, Sports and Entertainment Agent, Disrupt the Game
  • Jo Hannafin '77, P'12, Attending Orthropaedic Surgeon, The Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical, and President, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Lori Rubinson '86, Sports Talk Radio Host, WFAN



Attend-a-Class with Brown Faculty

Attendees had the opportunity to participate in TED Talk-style class offerings anchored by Brown's lead faculty presenters. Anchors were accompanied by two other University professors who shared their current topics of study and research.

Offering 1: Class anchored by Terrie Fox Wetle, MS, Ph.D. ADE'02 hon., Dean of School of Public Health and Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice with:

Offering 2: Class anchored by Wendy Schiller, Ph.D. ADE'02 hon., Professor of Political Science, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Chair of Political Science with:

Offering 3: Class anchored by Barbara Tannenbaum, Ph.D. P'10, Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies with:

  • Lu Wang, Assistant Professor of Music
  • Kali Thomas, Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice


Saving Mothers: An Update from Dr. Tara Shirazian '99 MD'03

Saving Mothers recently returned from a trip to West Pokot, Kenya. There provided pro-bono urogynecological surgery to women and trained local providers and traditional birth attendants on the use of safe birth kits, the identification of obstetric complications, and the appropriate times for referral.

Saving Mothers screened and treated over 30 patients, performed 11 surgeries (including an emergency C-section of twins), performed two training sessions for the local nurses and traditional birth attendants, visited two community health care centers, and completed daily rounds in just one week! We also delivered much-needed medical supplies to units of the hospital, including an obstetric ultrasound for labor and delivery, an autoclave and cleaning supplies for the operating rooms, and a gynecological exam table and exam lights to the prenatal ward.

We were also able to provide mothers and nurses in the labor ward with safe birth kits and trained them how to use the kits properly! Their excitement over receiving the birth kits was truly palpable. We thank you for your help in packing over 500 safe birth kits at the 125 Years of Women at Brown Conference that will go towards helping mothers give birth in West Pokot, Kenya and assist in the training of staff at Kapenguria District Hospital.

As we continue to work in this region to improve maternal and gynecological health services, Saving Mothers hopes that you can recognize the significant difference your support has made on the lives of women in West Pokot, Kenya. We hope that you will support our efforts again, because together we can make great strides towards preventing death for women in pregnancy and childbirth - because no woman should die giving life.


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