The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Alumnae meet for summit

Saoud, Angela | Monday, March 21, 2005

Nearly 150 Saint Mary’s alumnae gathered on campus during the weekend to attend “The Leader in You” leadership conference – which was so popular, the audience reached maximum capacity. The conference focused on leadership in all aspects of Saint Mary’s grads’ lives and looked at both professional and personal aspects of leadership. The conference hosted an array of events and workshops including recognizing personal leadership potential, leading Saint Mary’s into future successes and even attending Friday night’s Midnight Madness event.Co-coordinators Sarah Belanger Earley (Class of 1971) and Karen Zagrocki McDonald (Class of 1976) said they were thrilled with the outpouring of volunteers and attendees.”We opened this conference to all alumnae by placing ads in The Courier and by sending targeted mailings,” Earley said. “This is the first year we’d offered a conference of this nature, and we were amazed with the fabulous response we got.”McDonald said part of recognizing each individual’s leadership potential comes from women who epitomize leadership. “We wanted this experience to reinforce in them what it is like to be at Saint Mary’s and additionally, we were hoping there would be a sort of discovery – that the attendees would realize that they were already exhibiting a lot of leadership skills, even if they didn’t realize it yet,” McDonald said. “There are many different ways to be a leader at Saint Mary’s.”The conference attendees ranged from corporate executives to stay-at-home moms to self-employed small business owners. The conference gave alums an opportunity to reconnect with one another as well as meet and talk with current students at Saint Mary’s. Friday night’s keynote speakers – Superintendent of Benton Harbor schools Paula Dawning and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Frances Hesselbein drew a large crowd of not only alumnae but current students and other members of the campus community. Before planning of the conference, Earley and McDonald studied other college’s alumnae leadership programs as well as collaborating with the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). “We did a lot of leadership studies, looking at models created by Duke, Georgetown, Welsley and more, but when we sat down to do it, we created a program that was all our own,” Earley said. “This took two years of planning, but it’s true what they say, if you build it, they will come.”McDonald said since this conference was so successful, she is hoping more will be planned for the future.”We are hopeful that this is the beginning of a tradition,” McDonald said. “This is just another example of what Saint Mary’s women can do.”