Sandee Ting Simshauser '84, P'18, P'20, P'21
This interview is dated 1/9/17.
The Women's Leadership Council welcomed Sandee Ting Simshauser '84, P'18, P'20, P'21 as WLC Co-Chair on July 1, 2016. Sandee has been on the WLC for five years and previously served as the WLC Membership Committee Co-Chair, as well as Co-President of the Board of the Brown Club of Boston. Sandee says Brown has impacted her life in so many ways that it remains a priority for her to be involved as much as she can as an alumna. As Co-Chair of the Council, Sandee hopes to maintain and build upon the momentum of the Council's presence on campus and the many initiatives it has successfully completed. Looking ahead, Sandee sees the opportuntiy for the Council to extend its national reach through mentoring, alumnae-focused events, and promoting the importance of philanthropy. If there is one thing Sandee has learned from being a Brown student and now an alumna, it is that we are encouraged to lead and create positive change, and have the confidence to forge our own path.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you feel Brown is encouraging the next generation of women leaders?
Leadership is about being able to imagine new possibilities and inspiring others to do the same. It’s about listening and learning from others, and fostering an environment where ideas are freely shared, different viewpoints are thoughtfully considered, and creative solutions are collaboratively formulated. Effective leadership means prioritizing long and short term goals, and creating a path to reach these multi-level goals. It’s about clearly articulating these goals so that everyone is working in tandem. Lastly, leadership is about tapping into each person’s talents and skills and understanding how to support each individual to accomplish great work.
Brown is encouraging the next generation of women leaders by being an environment that encourages individuals to question the status quo, where one can how to make a difference, and where one dares to think boldly. In essence, a Brown education cultivates the most important quality of leadership, “being able to imagine new possibilities.” In addition, Brown’s diverse community and collaborative culture instills in individuals qualities essential for effective leadership – learning to work with a diverse group of individuals that share different viewpoints and understanding how to coalesce as a group. The Social Entrepreneurship Program at the Swearer Center is one example where women (and men) are encouraged to turn their ideas into action, to be a change leader. Look around and you will see many examples of women leadership on campus – President Paxson, Dean Mandel, and Dean Almandrez – what a tangible and meaningful way to encourage the next generation of Brown women leaders.
What would you like to see for the Council’s future?
The Council was founded by a visionary group of alumnae in 2004 with the purpose of “inspiring and engaging the women of Brown to become active participants in the life of the University.” In a little over a decade, the Council has grown from a handful of members to over 50 members, the Women’s Launch Pad Mentoring Program has grown from 40 alumnae mentor and student mentee pairings to over 170 pairings, and the Council’s Steering Committee is hard at work organizing the 125 Years of Women at Brown Celebration in May 2017 with an anticipated attendance of over 500 alumnae. By any measure the Council has been thriving, and its initiatives have been immensely successful.
As I think about the Council’s future, I see many opportunities for the Council to extend its reach to more Brown women through mentoring, local alumnae events and philanthropy. I am excited about the Council’s pilot program to expand its geographic footprint by creating regional chapters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC. These regional chapters will enable the Council to reach a broader and more diverse segment of alumnae and provide a platform for Brown women to stay connected with each other and engaged with the University. If this pilot program is well received by alumnae, it would be great to expand these regional chapters to other cities. I would also like to see the Council build on the success of its mentoring program by exploring additional mentoring opportunities for alumnae, e.g. recent grads and younger alumnae are often looking for guidance. The Council consists of an amazing group of talented women who are enthusiastic about giving their time and energy to Brown; I would like to continue to find opportunities for the Council to support the President in advancing the University’s initiatives.
You are co-chair of the WLC. What are some of your goals for the Council? What do you hope Council members will gain from your leadership?
It’s an exciting time to have the opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity on the Council. The Council is thriving on all fronts and the University has embarked on an ambitious capital campaign. My term as co-chair began this past June, and since then, my co-chair, Liz Sherman and I, have hit the ground running. One of our immediate goals, which hopefully members who attended the fall meeting have already noticed, was to aim to make our on-campus meetings as productive and meaningful as possible - we want our members to leave campus feeling energized about the Council and the University, and enthusiastic about their committee work. Based upon the response from the post-meeting surveys from our members, we seem to have succeeded.
Some of our other immediate goals for the Council are:
- To support the co-chairs and steering committee in their efforts to create an outstanding 125th Women at Brown Conference;
- To support the Council’s philanthropic efforts to achieve its $1M Participation Challenge; and
- To provide guidance to the regional network co-chairs to help launch the pilot regional chapters in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Some of our ongoing longer term goals for the Council are:
- To work with the Executive Committee to think strategically about the next 5-10 years of the Council and identify its future initiatives;
- To continue to work towards increasing the diversity of the Council membership and to consider ways to involve younger alumni with the Council; and
- To work more closely with Council committee co-chairs to ensure that they have enough guidance and support to accomplish their committee goals.
During my term as council co-chair, I hope that all members will find a way to contribute their talents and skills to the Council and University in a manner that is most meaningful to them. When I first joined the Council, I didn’t know any of the other Council members, but, over the years, I have formed bonds with many members and have been fortunate to develop several close friendships. Under my leadership, I hope that all members will feel this same sense of community within the Council, and that through their involvement with the Council, each member will develop a deeper and more lasting connection to Brown.
Why is Brown a philanthropic priority to you?
Brown has impacted my life in so many positive ways that it was an easy decision to make Brown my philanthropic priority. My years at Brown were transformative; they shaped my life philosophy, introduced me to some of the most interesting and accomplished people who would become my lifelong friends, and, most importantly, instilled in me the confidence to always forge my own path.
When I give to Brown, I know that my contributions are supporting an educational institution that has some of the world’s most brilliant academic minds striving to discover innovative solutions to some of the world’s most vexing problems – from climate change to world peace. Under the visionary leadership of President Paxson, it’s an exciting time in the University’s history, and with the recent launch of the aspirational $3 Billion Capital Campaign, Brown is poised to achieve even higher levels of academic distinction. The Capital Campaign is a priority for me because supporting the Campaign is critical to Brown’s success in the 21st Century.
With two sons currently attending Brown, it brings me such joy to hear them speak with such passion about their classes and professors, and to know that the core values that made Brown a unique and special place when I attended Brown over 30 years ago are still present today. In addition to contributing to the Annual Fund and the Endowment, my husband and I are strongly committed to supporting financial aid in order to ensure that a Brown education is available to the highest caliber students regardless of financial need. I feel so fortunate to be in a position to give back to Brown, a place which has given me so much.
Aside from the WLC, how else do you stay involved with Brown as an alumna?
I recently completed my term as Co-President of the Board of the Brown Club of Boston. The University gives alumni clubs ample freedom to create a wide array of events. It was a rewarding experience working with an interesting board of alumni, from recent graduates to class of 1970s, to create a roster of more than 20 events to appeal to the over 7,000 alumni in the Boston area. For many years, I served as a BASC alumni interviewer, and I have also served on my 25th and 30th Reunion Committees.