Empowering Women Leaders at Fairfield


Empowering Women Leaders at Fairfield

Last year, Fairfield University formed a Connecticut chapter within the American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network to develop and support women in leadership roles in higher education.

This initiative, supported by the Offices of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and the President, has held highly attended monthly meetings with keynote speakers or panels on topics of interest with the goal of providing career development, cross-functional mentoring, wellness support, and relationship building opportunities. ‌

“The monthly luncheons engage us in courageous conversations on our mission, leadership, management, and how we engage, empower and educate others and ourselves,” said Ophelia Rowe Allen, director of Residence Life, and one of the chapter’s leaders.

Among eight events that occurred since the chapter’s beginning in the winter of 2014, some of the topics presented have included, St. Ignatius’ Letters to Women: Being a Female Employee at a Jesuit Institution, Kaleidoscope Careers: The Female Career Trajectory led by Dr. Lisa Mainiero, professor of Management at the Dolan School of Business, and Women & Networking: Building a Foundation for a Great Year .

Nearly 70 faculty and staff came together for the meeting on November 20, Mindfulness: A Tool for Self-Care in the Workplace with a presentation by Tracey Robert, PhD, associate dean and associate professor of Counselor Education, and Paula Gill-Lopez, PhD, associate professor of School Psychology.

On average 60-70 women from over 20 departments across campus attend each lunch. Five events are planned for the spring — including a meeting of the Connecticut chapter to be hosted at a different campus. The group is open to all women at Fairfield and accepts new members on a rolling basis.

“I’m surprised by the success of this initiative,” said Christine Siegel, PhD, vice provost and associate vice president for Academic Affairs, who serves as an executive board member of the group and helped start the chapter.

“I think some of the unique features the ACE Women’s Network at Fairfield are that it brings together women from different sectors of the University who wouldn’t otherwise know or work with each other; it provides an opportunity for professional development that is not specific to one’s job or role but supportive of the person, and it draws on the expertise of members of our campus community to respond to needs or interests of others here at Fairfield – so it both celebrates and informs.” ‌

‌Dr. Siegel also explained that in terms of overall support, the women on campus have been very generous in sharing their expertise, and that everyone contacted to participate as a presenter has readily said yes.

“I was honored to be asked to share my professional experiences with friends and colleagues at Fairfield — many of whom I have turned to and learned from throughout the years,” said Heather Petraglia, dean of Academic and Career Development, who spoke on a panel of three in September about the evolution of both personal and professional goals.

“The Fairfield chapter of CTAWN provides space for dialogue, advocacy, and connection,” Petraglia continued.  “And that space is empowering and invigorating.”


Upcoming events :

Dec. 17: CTAWN@Fairfield luncheon

Presenter- Ayanna Brown, Dress for Success as guest speaker for the luncheon.

Collection Drive until December 17 th

The Fairfield (ACE) Women’s Network is collecting suits, handbags, toiletries and shoes for Dress for Success. There are multiple drop offs: Fran Levine at CNS 300 or call x4025 for pick-up on campus; Kathi Mettler at DSB 2116, or bring the suit to our December 17 luncheon.

For more information please contact Dr. Christine Siegel or Ophelia Rowe Allen


Pictured  - (top) The Fairfield CTAWN Advisory Board Members gather post event. (l-r) Meredith Smith (assistant director of Residence Life), Dr. Christine Siegel (vice provost and associate vice president for Academic Affairs), Ophelia Rowe Allen (director of Residence Life), Elisa Chollet (senior accountant), Pamela Nicsaji (Institutional Research Coordinator), and Kim Droniak (technical analyst).

(right) February lecture: St. Ignatius’ Letters to Women: Being a Female Employee at a Jesuit Institution presentation. (l-r) Dr. MaryAnn Carolan, professor of Modern Languages and Dr. Mary Frances Malone, associate vice president for Academic Affairs

(bottom left) Panelists field questions at The Evolution of Goals: Personal and Professional presentation this past September. (l-r) Paige Francis (chief information officer), Heather Petraglia (dean of Academic and Career Development), and Amalia Rusu (associate professor, Software Engineering).

Last modified: 12-08-15 12:53 PM


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