The weekend of June 4 dawned rainy. It rained atop the tents, rained across the lawns, and poured mercilessly into those few passageways we had left uncovered. Yet the nearly 1,300 indomitable women—strong, beautiful, and apparently waterproof Barnard women—didn’t seem to care. For two and a half days, they trooped to lectures, gathered to converse on couches, and reveled in being on campus and together again. According to Barnard College security, they were even, umm, a little rowdy.
For me, Barnard’s 112th Reunion was a wonderful way to close a jam-packed year. From the extraordinary women of the Class of 1933 who sipped sherry with me on Friday to the inspiring Joya Banerjee ’04, who received the Young Alumna Award on Saturday night, our alumnae were spirited and thoughtful, devoted and wise. It was a pleasure to meet so many new faces and reconnect with a growing number of friends.
After a tumultuous 12 months, the College is ending this fiscal and academic year in strong shape. We graduated 632 amazing young women in the Class of 2009 and enrolled 595 equally exciting women into the Class of 2013. We celebrated Hillary Clinton, Indra Nooyi, Irene Winter ’60, and Kay Murray at commencement and are eagerly awaiting the opening of the newly named Diana Center in February. In the coming year, we will launch the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, an innovative program to explore the question of women’s leadership in a liberal-arts context, and we will welcome more than two dozen visiting students from partner schools in China, Denmark, Italy, and Korea.
Financially, like other colleges and universities, we continue to face turbulent times. Although the massive instability of last autumn seems, we hope, now behind us, credit markets remain strained, our endowment funds have suffered major losses, and many of our students’ families have been hit hard. To deal with these pressures, we implemented a series of tough measures this past year, including a freeze on faculty and staff salaries, a significant reduction in our non-personnel spending, and zero-based budgeting reviews of several administrative areas. Because the College has long been vigilant in monitoring expenses, we were fortunate to have excellent systems already in place for scrutinizing our spending and further reducing our costs. Because we have been frugal for so long, however, we also had less waste in our existing budget than many of our peers and fewer easy cuts to make. Our spending reductions have therefore been painful, and we have tried to make them as carefully as possible, preserving or even enhancing those functions that are critical to our mission: educating women who aspire to excellence.
In these tough times, we are particularly grateful to those who have stepped forward to support the College. Over the past year, our annual fund and scholarship dinner together raised $5.9 million, a remarkable commitment by past generations of alumnae to our current generation of students. Many alumnae, from those in the earliest classes to those who graduated last year, dramatically increased their gifts, eager to ensure that the economic downturn did not fall too heavily on the College or on the nearly 1,000 students currently receiving financial aid.
Personally, I want to thank you all for the warmth and excitement with which you have welcomed me to Barnard. It’s been an inspiring first year, and I look forward to many great reunions to come.
-Photograph by Margaret Lambert
“I hate being a boss and I hate being a subordinate, so the only thing to do is be my own boss,” Laurie Joan Aron says in her soft, even voice about her life as a serial entrepreneur. “I’ve always gone my own way and thrust my merit ahead of me.”
For 15 years, the Barnard premed freelanced as a business journalist, juggling as many as 12 deadlines at a time for a panoply of magazines on such topics as industrial robotics, software for customer-employee interface, and the future of the Korean grocery.
But when the youngest of her three children reached second grade and, for the usual, complicated reasons—the classroom was too loud, the schoolwork too dull, etc.—needed to be homeschooled, Aron didn’t hesitate to cut back on journalism and take on this new assignment. For four to five hours a day, mother and child did scientific experiments, went to the park to birdwatch, made pottery, and read and read and read. “I had to calm down from always being in a frenzy—slow down to a second-grader’s level,” she recalls.
She loved this pace of wonder. When her daughter returned to school the following year, she decided not to plunge back into the journalistic fray but to continue the homeschooling—of herself this time. She revived interests she had pursued after graduating, experimenting with photography, poetry, and some fiction until she hit on collage.
Four years and 1,451 collages later, Aron has developed a solid working method and a gorgeous style. At the heart of each collage is a mysterious figure enveloped in voluptuous folds of cloth and textured clouds of color. She—the figure is invariably a woman or some part of a woman’s body—leads us into a story without obvious conclusion. “I want to create a picture space that is baffling—labyrinthine,” Aron explains. “At any point, the eye could be faced with paths that lead off to nowhere, proportions that are dizzying.”
Constructed from glossy-magazine photographs, the collages don’t do that Dada thing of offering up the detritus of the world. They do not consist of found objects, Aron insists, “because I found them.” Nor do they reference recognizable figures and thus serve as social commentary: “I’m not going to do them with Kate Moss. I tend to use photographs where the models look less like models and more like strange creatures in stories.”
And yet it is important to Aron that she make the collages by hand. If she skipped the tedious labor of cutting and pasting and resorted to Photoshop, “it wouldn’t involve enough artistic effort,” she says with wry self-knowing.
Besides hours in the studio (also known as her bed—she plops down on it to demonstrate how a book on her lap suffices as work surface), “A massive amount of this work is marketing. You can’t just make collages and hope that people will come,” she says, as the forthright entrepreneur. Then, “I don’t pander, I’m an artist—I make what interests me, not what sells. But after that, the point is to interest others.”
To that end, she invites “everybody I know and everybody I have ever been colleagues with” to regular open houses. She has sold her work at street fairs, donated it to charity auctions, and even exhibited in the little brick hut on a subway traffic island on the Upper West Side, just south of the modest apartment she shares with her husband and children. And each week she responds to calls for entries to juried exhibitions with batches of framed collages.
In the four years since Aron began this project, her collages have appeared in some 70 shows, from Pensacola, Florida, to Los Angeles, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and her native New York. Eight shows will feature her work this summer. But at this point, she admits, “I’m slightly uncomfortable with where I am. Itchy.” It’s a familiar state of mind.
-by Apollinaire Scherr
Jazz vocalist Sarah DeLeo recently released her second album, I’m In Heaven Tonight, a follow-up to her well-received 2005 debut, The Nearness of You, on her own Sweet Sassy label. We caught up with the New York City-based singer and discussed her influences and the state of the music industry.
What brought you to sing the standards?
I think I always gravitated to them without even knowing what they were. I grew up in the ’70s and they were not the songs my generation listened to. I remember an episode of The Love Boat where Melissa Sue Anderson from Little House on the Prairie sang “Witchcraft” and I thought, “Wow! That’s a great song.”
Critics have said your voice conjures images of Peggy Lee and the elegant supper club years of the 1950s and ’60s.
I consider myself a Garland-esque singer who likes to improvise. It’s a lot easier to say “jazz vocalist” though. The singers who most influenced me—Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin—were/are pretty high-energy singers, but I sound generally pretty mellow, because that’s the way I am.
Why did you choose songs like Lerner and Loewe’s “On The Street Where You Live” and “In the Cold, Cold Night” by Jack White of The White Stripes for the CD ?
Song ideas and arrangements can pop into my head anytime, anywhere, because they are the direct manifestations of what I am feeling, experiencing, or thinking about at the moment. The songs on this CD came to me individually. I consider them all standards with the exception of “Let it Rain” and “In the Cold, Cold Night.” It’s funny—I never really think about what “standards” are.
Why self-produce your albums?
When I was thinking about doing my first CD, I knew I would get the best outcome if I self-produced. I could produce an artistically honest CD, I would own the master, and I could control its distribution and publicity.
Back when albums were on vinyl, it was prohibitively expensive to produce your own recording. You had to be on a label. Now self-producing has become very common. The number of self-producing artists continues to grow even among performers who were formerly on labels: People want more control over the artistic and business processes.
How did Barnard influence you?
I sang in an a cappella group, Bacchantae, which was great. And since I still live on the Upper West Side, I’m up there working in the library all the time—more now than I did as a student! Professionally, I do feel strongly that my Barnard background really helped me to be tenacious in the jazz world, which is still very sexist and very male-dominated.
My biggest upcoming gig will be giving birth to my second child in August! I’m already working on new ideas and hoping to get back into the studio soon after that.
-by Karen Schwartz '93
For more information, visit sarahdeleo.com.
A celebration of reconnection to the Barnard community, Reunion 2009 also offered thought-provoking and practical ideas about contemporary issues that affect us all. The Alumnae Association’s Reunion committee, chaired by Dr. N ieca Goldberg ’79, and the Alumnae Affairs staff put together a program to inform, assist, and entertain. Approximately 1,300 alumnae, family members, and friends came together to catch up with classmates, make new connections, and enjoy each other’s company. Good vibrations from the panels, lectures, special events—not to mention a swinging dance band at the Saturday reception—energized an activity-filled weekend.
-Photographs by E. Grace Glenny '04 and David Wentworth
Every year at Reunion, a program of special events, workshops, and seminars spark the conversations and connections that make this Spring weekend so rewarding. This year’s program addressed contemporary issues on both national and more personal levels, and included a panel discussion about “The Great Recession,” along with workshops about managing finances, entrepreneurship, and finding a job. A frank Q&A session with Chair of the Board of Trustees and Pulitzer Prizewinning author Anna Quindlen filled the Held Lecture Hall; and a panel about the challenges and opportunities for women in science also drew a crowd. For those who couldn’t make it to Reunion this year, here are highlights of these events.
Living Out Loud: A Coffee Break with Anna Quindlen ’74
When Board Chair Anna Quindlen speaks, everyone listens. Few audiences were more rapt than the one that crowded into Barnard Hall’s Julius Held auditorium to hear the prize-winning journalist and best-selling author share her insights, wit, and passion on everything from the current state of feminism to the future of Barnard.
There was good news about the College. “In every way that counts Barnard is on firmer footing today than ever in its history,” said Quindlen, who added that “the students who are here, they love this place so much.”
She offered a more cautious note about the state of contemporary feminism. “I came to feminism the way a lot people come to social movements when they are young—purely out of self interest,” said Quindlen. The struggle has changed since her early career, she noted, moving “from courtrooms, corporations, and newsrooms to living rooms and bedrooms, to private venues where it all began.” The absence of overt discrimination—or questions about a young woman’s typing skills—masks the work that remains to be done.
“Young women today graduating from Barnard encounter subtle sexism of ‘far enough,’ not ‘no way,’” she said. “We women have been reinventing ourselves all our lives. We need to reinvent America. We need women leaders not because it’s good for women but because it’s good for everyone.”
Starting Your Own Business: Entrepreneurial Solutions
Given the current state of the corporate economy, it’s not surprising that being one’s own boss exerts a powerful appeal. “Entrepreneurship is a good story for women,” said Dr. Karen Vexler Hartman ’69, who, with her colleague Prof. Cynthia Thompson of Baruch College, led the workshop.
As Hartman, founder and president of LearnTech Associates, a management consulting firm, noted, “It’s a huge part of the economy. Small businesses are one of the ways to create jobs. Lots of women are preferring to run their own businesses.” Women own more than 41 percent of all privately held firms. And contrary to popular misconception, more than two-thirds of new businesses are still operating after two years.
For some, it’s a chance to pursue a more congenial lifestyle, or embrace more creative and fulfilling pursuits than are possible working for a corporation or someone else. For others, starting their own business affords an opportunity to develop a product or idea that serves an untapped market niche.
Hartman explained that entrepreneurs aren’t born, but are made—largely by their choice to become entrepreneurs. For most, the quest for autonomy and achievement are major motivations. “You have to be willing to have lots of ideas and be willing to experiment and beunfettered. You have to be driven,” saidHartman. “You have to want to do this.”
Women & Science Education
Barnard has a long history of contributing women physicians and scientists to the professions. Some distinguished alumnae shared their experiences and suggestions to encourage more women to enter the field at this panel. Hirschorn Professor and chair of environmental science Stephanie Pfirman, the moderator, noted, “President Obama talked about restoring science to its rightful place, and increasing the diversity and capability of science professionals. There are huge global challenges…. Women are still underrepresented, [and] there’s attrition after they obtain their PhDs.”
“It’s easier for people to see women as scientists now and that they should be paid as well as anyone.” For Helen Bernstein Berman ’64, a Board of Governors professor of chemistry at Rutgers, having a mentor who was “encouraging of my continuing a career” was critical. “Women are learning to express their needs better. In my early life, this wasn’t possible,” said Marian Bennett Meyers ’59, assistant professor of cardiology at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Practical changes can improve prospects as well. “We have a task force on recruitment, retention, prevention of attrition, promotion, and awards,” said Ellen R. Gritz ’64, professor and chair of behavioral science and Olla S. Stribling Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “We have women on every single search committee. This encourages women to apply for positions.”
“Making the field more enticing from the beginning also matters,” observed Maria S. Rivera Maulucci ’88, assistant professor of education. “It’s not that we want everyone to become a scientist. We want every one to appreciate it. That needs to be part of the mission.”
The Great Recession
The road to economic recovery may still be a long one, and the economic landscape that emerges may look quite different from what’s gone before, but there’s no need to push the panic button. That was the message from a panel discussion of the current recession led by President Debora L. Spar, joined by Professor of Economics Perry Mehrling, and Assistant Professor of Political Science Kimberley Johnson. “This ‘Great Recession’ has affected all parts of society. This is a great learning opportunity to understand how the economy works, or doesn’t,” said Spar, who will teach a course on the Great Depression this fall.
She suggested that a positive result of the economic turmoil may be that Wall Street isn’t the career destination of choice for smart college graduates. Also, new graduates are reconsidering what it means to “live a happy and prosperous and successful life.” “We’re rethinking the role of government regulation, the scope of government, the scope of corporate, and what [makes] an attractive set of career and life goals,” said Barnard’s president.
The political landscape has shifted along with the economic one. For Professor Johnson the compelling question is whether President Obama’s election signals a fundamental, generational realignment of the sort that took place when Franklin D. Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan took office. “In the 18 to 21-yearold group, more identify as Democrats,” said Professor Johnson. “One consequence in the long term may be a strong Democratic party.”
Professor Mehrling, who is advising the government on the TARP, says there is no easy fix. “In the brave new world of modern finance, we replaced our comfortable, safe banking system with capital-market credit. The idea was to separate the funding of credit from the risk of the credit. We haven’t put Humpty Dumpty back together, and it won’t look like it did before. We are in the early days of putting the system back together.”
Financial Planning & Retirement
Begin saving early, be conscious of compound interest’s power, and construct a portfolio that balances risk against potential reward. “Financial planning is all about getting stuff …out of your head, and...into a plan, so that you can use your brain for its highest and best use, which is to make the important decisions,” explained instructor Vanessa Wilson to about 25 alumnae gathered in Milbank Hall at one of two financial workshops, which were samplers of the full courses offered by Barnard’s Financial Fluency program. A good plan could serve as a bulwark against anxiety. In the long run, it could be the difference, between destitution and comfort.
Wilson brought charts and graphs illustrating the benefits that consistent saving begun in one’s 20s will confer. Her examples established beyond all doubt: there is nothing abstruse or frightening about personal finance. It is all, as she put it, “addition, subtraction, and multiplication.” For instance, forgo a daily latte at $4.85 for a $2 drip coffee and put the difference into a jar, saving $960 in a year, and accumulate $12,000 in 10 years at five percent interest.
An alumna raised a challenge. “I think the assumption of a five-percent return is ridiculous today,” she said. Wilson acknowledged that something dire had just happened to the economy and everyone reaching retirement age, but she also reassured the class that historical trends proved that over decades, the market tends to grow.
In her retirement workshop, financial advisor and founder of LRN Associates Lynn Silverstein Najman ’72 urged alumnae to diversify their holdings. Her rule of thumb was that no one’s portfolio should consist of more than five percent of a single stock. “If you are holding mutual funds, do the work to find out what their top 10 holdings are,” she pleaded, noting that, “In December, I can’t tell you how many different mutual funds were all holding Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, and AIG.” She also acknowledged that “all the craziness that’s been going on,” did in fact call into question some of the conventional wisdom, but concluded that the age-old advice—over a longtime horizon, you can hold a higher proportion of stocks—remained sound. Higher-risk, higher-yield investments, such as equities, Najman told the audience, were important to hold in order to make sure that one’s portfolio grew at a rate faster than inflation.
Vickie Morgan ’69 attended both sessions and came away with the determination to ask more questions about her portfolio and take a more active hand in its management. “My level of knowledge is very low—that’s why I came here,” she said. “I do have a better understanding of the problems, and I know what questions to ask. The tendency is often to put one’s head in the sand and assume—it’s there, somebody’s managing it, and I don’t want to look at it. I see now how important it is to be engaged with your financial future.”
-by Merri Rosenberg '78 and Wesley Yang, illustrations by Jennifer Daniel
For a list of future Financial Fluency programs, visit alum.barnard.edu/financialfluency.
“You found a way to make e-mail useful to you, you’ll find a way to make Facebook useful to you,” Sree Sreenivasan, leading technology expert and dean of student affairs at Columbia, told the skeptical crowd that had gathered in Julius Held Lecture Hall for the Social Networking panel. The office of Alumnae Affairs, in conjunction with the Alumnae Association Reunion Committee and Barnard Business and Professional Women, put together this Reunion event. Moderated by Lisa Weinert ’02, publicity manager at Random House, it addressed a medium that, despite resistance by some, is part of how the world functions now.
Essentially what social networking sites offer is a form of community for people who share interests, activities, or personal connections. Of the many services available online, the most prominent (at the moment) are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, each of which serves a different purpose. In addition to these three, there are sites and services for specific groups, like eons.com for baby boomers, or Shine, a site for women administered by Yahoo! and run by editor-in-chief and Reunion panelist Brandon Holley ’89. “What’s really neat to me is seeing women being able to connect and share things,” said Holley. But for those wondering what is being shared and why, there are many answers.
One alumna joked that panelist Sarah Cohen ’08 and her contemporaries probably don’t want the older generations on Facebook. To which Cohen, Barnard Web administrator, replied, “I made my mom join Facebook because my family is kind of far-flung and I wanted us to keep in touch.”
Sreenivasan agreed, “I’m in better touch with my family—spread over nine countries in four continents—as a result of Facebook than I ever would have been otherwise. If they waited for me to write the letter or I waited for them, it wouldn’t happen.” This is first and foremost the appeal of social networking sites, allowing instant and continuous contact with friends and family, near or far, without cost or much effort.
Surpassing MySpace in worldwide unique visitors, Facebook is now the most popular social networking site on the Internet. What started out as a service for Harvard students in 2004, soon opened to other colleges, and, by the end of 2005, to high schools. In 2006 the general public could access Facebook. The site has more than 200 million active users. Its fastest growing demographic is users over 35, according to the site. Facebook’s appeal is the simplicity of the interface and layout, relatively few ads, and the ability to set individual levels of privacy for each “Friend.”
When opening an account on any of the major sites, a user may import their e-mail contact lists to search for people they know who may already have accounts or invite those who do not have one to open an account and become a Friend. For each Friend on Facebook, a user can adjust her privacy settings to include or exclude certain people. For example, if you post family photos on your Wall (your profile page’s public forum space), you can set up your profile to keep work colleagues from seeing the Wall, but still allow them access to other aspects of your profile.
For some, it’s a fast way to send a message to a large group of people. Cohen recalled that as a student, Facebook not only allowed her to virtually meet her classmates online the summer before attending Barnard, but once at school it became a powerful marketing tool. “If you had an event at Columbia and you wanted students to be there, you would just say to everyone [in the Columbia network], ‘Hey, we’re having an event today on the lawn, c’mere.’ As we started using these tools, our needs for these tools started to grow as well.” Sreenivasan also noted that Facebook is useful in his work as dean, “If I really want to reach [my students] I need to ‘Facebook’ them. That means being connected to them where they are.”
Panelist Andrea Katz Stimmel ’76, class president and director of business development for Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, made that company the first big law firm (in American Lawyer’s top 200) to use Facebook as a tool to recruit law students, a wildly successful campaign. However, her personal networking site of choice is LinkedIn. The site, which is far less casual than Facebook, allows users to post résumés and links to outside sites, ask for and display recommendations, and join common-interest groups.
“In my business, and in most businesses, it’s really all about relationships: If you need to make a sale to someone, if you need to influence a sale because you’re halfway in the door, or if you need to expand your knowledge in a certain area, you just ask your network. Erin [Fredrick] found out that I’m doing all this work in social networking because I posted on my LinkedIn profile [that I was] giving a speech to the city bar association on how to use social networking…. And Erin is a member of my group. She called me up and she said, ‘I didn’t know you were doing that.’ … [Y]ou throw a rock in the water … and you create a ripple…. That’s what happens in these social-networking sites,” said Stimmel.
For those on the hunt for a job, be aware that potential employers are using sites like LinkedIn to research candidates. “I’ve been in the business development and research world for a long time,” said Stimmel, “and we used to go to Who’s Who…. And we used to go to all these resources to try to find out about people.
Invariably if you just go to LinkedIn, most people in business are there in some capacity.” Being able to see each other’s “Connections,” the other users in your network, also removes the awkwardness of introducing associates to one another, which used to require giving out e-mail addresses. “If I want to find out about someone … I just ask you to introduce me to so-and-so [through LinkedIn], and then all of the sudden I’m not only seeing that person’s profile but all their Connections as well,” observed Stimmel. Although being on a site like LinkedIn does not guarantee anyone a job, it is possible that a candidate with a résumé, recommendations, and a strong network of Connections on LinkedIn may have a leg up on a candidate who has no Internet presence.
Twitter and Tweeting
LinkedIn and Facebook serve as gathering spots where people can share varying amounts of information; the purpose of Twitter is a bit more equivocal. A networking service (also referred to as a micro-blog), Twitter allows a user to deliver “tweets,” text messages of no more than 140 characters, to “Followers,” people who subscribe to a user’s Twitter feed. As Sreenivasan noted at the panel, Twitter is both a talking and listening device, depending on how you want to use it. Although 140 characters does not seem like much, Sreenivasan pointed out that it’s more than the average newspaper headline, something designed to say a lot in very little space.
This past June Twitter was a rallying tool for the election-result protests in Iran. The FDA uses Twitter to make recall announcements; many companies use it to follow and shape conversations about their products. Performers and arts organizations make announcements about events and opportunities like ticket giveaways. Many often include links, where the Follower can find more information. For example, on May 18, Barnard College tweeted: “Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is speaking at Barnard’s commencement right now http://bit.ly/19hn4y”, the link leading the user to a page featuring a live-video feed.
Up to You
It is up to the user to decide whether or not she has something important to write about and what she finds important enough to follow. Just as everyone needs to be savvy about what they read in a magazine or newspaper, we need to be savvy about what we read on Twitter and other online communities, reminded Holley. There is misinformation on these sites, she noted, “but there are times when it’s about something that’s personal and you just want to hear someone else’s story, the common person’s wisdom.” Some of that wisdom blogged on Shine has gained enough of a following that the bloggers have become regular paid writers for the site. Moderator Lisa Weinert agreed that using the Web as a writing outlet can lead to more success; a book she is currently promoting at Anchor began as a blog.
In addition to deciding what to pay attention to, it’s up to the user to decide how much time to dedicate to social networking. “I don’t think anybody here is advocating just spending all your life [online],” said Sreenivasan. For some it’s the perfect thing to do on their handheld device while waiting in line, others may want to discipline themselves to 20 minutes each morning, or there are those who will weave it throughout a workday that has them in front of a computer anyway. “This is all new....We’re making it up as we go along. There’re no rules about any of these things,” said Sreenivasan. He then cautioned, “Common sense doesn’t end when you go online.” In other words, watch what you write and be polite.
—by Deborah Staab, illustration by The Heads of State
A diploma from Barnard College is, in itself, its own special reward, but at Reunion, the College celebrates those outstanding alumnae who have made the entire community proud. To determine the winners, the Alumnae Association’s Reunion committee culls class members’ recommendations and, after some head-scratching, votes on the honorees. During the Reunion weekend, awards are presented at the Friday luncheon and Saturday dinner.
Some notes on the awards: The Woman of Achievement Award dates to 1979 and acknowledges not only achievement but dedication—to career, quality of life, and improvement of society. It is one of the Association’s highest honors. The Distinguished Alumna Award, instituted in 1967, goes to someone who personifies the ideals of a liberal-arts education and has achieved public and/or professional distinction in her field. The Award for Service to Barnard honors tireless and devoted volunteers. These last two categories permit multiple awards. First granted in 2002, the recipient of the Young Alumna Award must have graduated five, 10, or 15 years before Reunion; the newest, the Millicent Carey McIntosh Feminism Award, is given to an alumna who exemplifies the strong, independent traditions of Barnard.
Woman of Achievement Award
Dr. Alison Estabrook ’74
Chief of breast surgery and director of the Comprehensive Breast Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital…Professor of clinical surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center…Associate director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Medical Center…Co-founder of Women at Risk, which offers medical care to women at the highest risk for breast cancer...Creator of support groups, a resource library, and lecture series for high-risk women… Named a top doctor in New York, in the U.S., and for women
Distinguished Alumna Award
Maria Hinojosa ’84
Award-winning (including a 2008 Emmy) journalist and author, senior correspondent for PBS news magazine Now since 2005…Anchor and managing editor of NPR’s Latino USA, a program devoted to Latino news and culture… Former CNN correspondent… Acclaimed memoir, Raising Raul: An Adventure in Raising Myself and My Son (1999), explores her role as Mexican- American career woman, wife, and mother…One of Hispanic Business’s “100 Most Influential Latinos in the U.S.”
Young Alumna Award
Joya Banerjee ’04
Double-major, human rights and political science, now a master’s candidate in the department of global health and population at Harvard School of Public Health…Internship at Amnesty International…Co-founder of the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/ AIDS, a network of 6,000 young people addressing the virus in 150 countries… Initiated Columbia University student organization Columbia Global Justice, to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS and of health care as a human right
Millicent Carey McIntosh Award for Feminism
Professor Estelle Freedman ’69
Women’s history and feminist studies historian…Honors in history at Barnard; PhD, Columbia…Teacher, Princeton and Stanford...Co-founder, Program of Feminist Studies, Stanford…2009-10 Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavior Sciences…Author of several books including, No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women; editor, The Essential Feminist Reader, anthology of feminist history primary documents
Millicent Carey McIntosh Award for Feminism
Ann Brashares ’89
Philosophy major...Author who began her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, in 2000…Three sequels, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants, and Forever in Blue, followed in the next five years…Sisterhood became a feature film released by Warner Bros. in 2005, a second film appeared in 2008…Fifth novel, The Last Summer of (You and Me), published in 2007...3 Willows published in 2009...All six books have been New York Times bestsellers
Distinguished Alumna Award
Honorable Margot Botsford ’69
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court…Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, Barnard; JD, Northeastern University law school; MPA, Harvard’s JFK School of Government…Named associate justice of Massachusetts Superior Court in1989; Gov. Deval Patrick appointed her to the Supreme Judicial Court in 2007…Taught at Northeastern University, Boston University, and others…Winner of many awards for judicial excellence and distinguished judicial service
Service to Barnard College
Daphne Fodor Philipson ’69
European-history major with a master’s from Columbia’s business school… CPA in the State of New York…Former partner at E.M. Warburg Pincus & Co. focused on investor relations…Retired in 1998 to do volunteer work…Member and former chair of the board of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic…Member, Leadership Council of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America…Member, AABC Fellowship, Leadership Council, Barnard Fund committees...Fund chair for the Class of 1969
Service to Barnard College
Arlene Kelley Winer ’54
Teacher, Westchester County, 37 years…History major with a master’s from Columbia’s Teachers College…Class President since 1994…Board member, Barnard-in-Westchester Club; former member, Reunion and nominating committees; member, Project Continuum subcommittee...Preserved Barnard memories through two oral histories of alumnae who served in World War II, and outstanding alumnae and leaders, including Millicent McIntosh, in honor of Barnard’s Centennial
-Photographs by David Wentworth
Robert Earl, director of the Office of Career Development, flashes on the screen behind him a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “We gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face … you must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And so begins a series of workshops: “Identifying Your Target and Creating Your Marketing Campaign,” “Planning Your Job Search,” “Creating an Effective Résumé and Cover Letter,” and “Interviewing Techniques.”
As the first session on a rainy Friday morning gets underway, the room is sparsely populated, but as more alumnae trickle in, something besides bad weather may be keeping enthusiasm at bay—a sense of futility. Earl is met with stories of layoffs, of mid-career burnout, and of insecurity about reentering the working world after an extended hiatus. Everyone is having a difficult time with her job search, and most fear they will not find anything. Recessions may come and go, but for industries like publishing and finance, some jobs seem to be gone for good.
But Earl is emphatic. Fear is anathema to finding a job, “If you are fearful, it’s probably not going to happen,” he says, with an energy that’s infectious. The faithful are finding jobs in this market. But it takes work. The difference between fear and faith, he says, is having a marketing plan.
Self-marketing and personal branding are concepts that repeat throughout these workshops. Where once a great job could be found with little more than experience and a typo-free résumé, today’s competitive job search should be conducted like a targeted brand launch. “You are the product. Market yourself to the employer,” Earl says. While it may seem intimidating, a marketing plan can help you develop the habits of successful job seekers: identifying your strengths, refining your career goals, networking with a passion, and selling yourself with precision.
During the session on résumé writing, Nadine Verna, associate director of career development, says it’s important to “clarify your brand.” It starts with selfassessment. Where do you fit and what do you want to do? It’s a question some of us haven’t had to answer in a long time—if ever—but a job search presents the opportunity to reassess. Consider your personality, interests, and values; identify what you do best. What is the position you want and what will it take to get there? Are there resources available to help you? Will you need to learn new skills? Take these things into account and then get active. Write everything down and develop action steps that will move you closer to your goal.
To be sure, the idea that self assessment can help you find a dream job seems lofty, particularly in this economy. For Hilary Mitchell ’04, personal inventory led her to not only change careers but to build a dream business for herself. She credits the staff of the OCD with help in getting her started. “Throughout my life, I have found that I enjoy making a difference in people’s lives,” says Mitchell. A post-college job as a big-firm financial advisor did little to satisfy her. While she enjoyed the one-on-one time sorting out individuals’ finances, the sales-oriented side felt at odds with her better instincts. Laid off last year, Mitchell visited the OCD and found encouragement; she didn’t necessarily have to take a traditional road to success. She decided to build a business doing what she’d been doing for fun during her time spent in job limbo— cleaning out and organizing friends’ homes. Her company, Hilary Mitchell Organizational Solutions, has been growing steadily through word of mouth. “Even in this economy,” she adds.
As a business owner, Mitchell faces the same obstacles as anyone trying to sell herself to a potential employer. One trick is developing a pitch that quickly and memorably answers the question, “What do you do?” Earl calls this the 30-second commercial: a concise personal promotion spot that makes a great first impression and creates interest to learn more. For Mitchell, this comes easily: “Closets, basements, personal finances— it’s one-step shopping for organizing your entire world. It’s organizational therapy.” Earl recommends everyone create a 30-second commercial and rehearse it until it becomes second nature.
He also recommends job seeking on two fronts: the open and hidden markets. The open market includes all the typical places employers post jobs, including Internet sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com; industry-niche Web sites, such as Dice.com for the tech field, or JournalismJobs.com for media; trade journals and magazines, such as Advertising Age or HR magazine; and career fairs. You can also call the OCD to get access to an eRecruiting system for companies looking to hire alumnae. All these resources can lead to great jobs, but they are no secret to your competition.
The hidden market is the place where jobs aren’t necessarily listed, where some investigation may lead you to find what others have been missing. For example, going directly to the Web sites of the companies you want to work for can sometimes point you to otherwise unadvertised job leads.
The most important part of the hidden market is word-of-mouth. “Eighty to 90 percent of the people I work with find opportunities through networking,” says Earl. If you can’t think of anyone to network with, you aren’t thinking hard enough. Everyone has an extended network—family, friends, colleagues, and members of professional associations and affinity groups (including fellow alumnae) who can be called upon for help. Anyone is fair game; sometimes it takes only a faint connection to get someone’s personal attention. Celia
Knight ’74, who is looking to move to online media after 30 years in print and book publishing, agrees. “I’m looking at networking as a big help in gaining insights,” she says. “Not all interviews are for jobs, some are informational or consultative. It may not get me a job with that organization, but it builds a relationship that may carry over into other things.” To turn an informational interview into a prospect, take a gradual approach. Start by asking for advice: “If you were me, how would you go about finding a job?” If they respond, ask for feedback on your résumé. “Now they are invested,” Earl says. That’s when you ask for specifics: “Can you refer me to the appropriate person to talk about opportunities in your organization?”
Online social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook are also part of your hidden market. A professional network used by headhunters and employers, LinkedIn offers an excellent way to leverage your professional contacts, especially if you add a résumé or references to your profile. Facebook is a more personal site, but allows you to reach out casually to your extended network during a job search. But be careful not to arm potential employers with too much personal data before meeting you. (Earl freely admits to Googling potential hires and browsing through whatever he can find.) Don’t add pictures or personal data to a LinkedIn profile, and block your Facebook profile so only your accepted network can view it.
While networking is important, your cover letter and résumé still do most of the talking. Unfortunately, there is no set template for what makes a great résumé. Should you format with bullets or paragraphs? Do you include graduation dates, computer skills, or personal interests? “You’ll get a lot of feedback over time,” says Verna, but much of it is subjective. Most important is that the document be concise, easy to read, with a crisp appearance. (Spring for the nice paper when sending a hard copy.)
Like great marketing material, all effective résumés promote their subjects. Yours should highlight your strengths in a quantitative, rather than functional way: Focus on accomplishments instead of job descriptions or daily responsibilities. Detail some of your most interesting projects. Verna suggests using the acronym PAR as a reminder: Problems/challenges you faced, Actions you took, Results you produced.
Periodically scan your résumé and do what Verna calls the “so what?” test. You want only the most relevant information, things that will grab an employer’s attention. For undergraduates or recent graduates, stating your career objective at the top isn’t necessary. Any objective at such an early stage is likely to be too generic to be relevant. For someone with an established career path, an objective should not only include the type of position you seek but also your potential to excel.
Beverly Pelzner ’74 is facing a common problem among female job seekers: the résumé gap. She wonders how to explain the 17 years she has spent away from the working world raising two children. The best strategy is to reframe your résumé: Don’t ignore the issue but don’t address it either. List experience in terms of functions rather than in chronological order and include any relevant experience you can. Kalban, for example, should note experience gained during her years volunteering for a city agency. Anything gleaned from the computer classes taken to strengthen her skills should also be included.
Professional and industry organization memberships can indicate a current knowledge of a field. Do not include household duties and family-related achievements. As hard as it is to run a household, the working world does not consider those skills to be transferable.
If your résumé talks about accomplishments, your cover letter should go even further, offering specifics about why you should be in the position you seek. Be proactive in your cover letter, says Earl. For example, in the bottom paragraph of the letter, instead of the standard “If you are interested, please contact me at…” put the ball in your court: “I will call you the week of X to schedule an interview.”
Even if you aren’t interested in the position, every interview can help strengthen your confidence and prepare you for the right opportunity when it comes along. Use your marketing skills to focus on your accomplishments and what you have to offer. “Women tend to interview as facilitators, men interview as visionaries,” says Earl. Your goal is to adopt that visionary style. Tell the employer not just why you are interested in the position but what you could do in the first 30 days if they hire you. Don’t be afraid to brag.
Most importantly, says Earl, if you want the job, ask for it. “You can say ‘I’m available to start X date, does that work or would the following week be better?’” Don’t worry if this results in laughter. “They’ll talk about you at happy hour or at the water cooler, but the next day they will remember you.” Ask anyone in marketing, that’s the kind of impact that counts.
-by Melissa Phipps, illustration by Daniel Horowitz
New York City landmark Guastavino’s was the elegant setting for this year’s annual Scholarship Dinner & Auction on April 29. In addition to raising money for the College’s scholarship fund, the event honored two alumnae and a beloved professor. For his exemplary distinguished career, Dennis Dalton, professor emeritus of political science, was honored with the Margaret Mead Award, named for the famed cultural anthropologist and 1923 Barnard graduate. Honored with the Frederick A. P. Barnard Award for their dedicated continued service to the College were vice chair of the board of trustees Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald ’81, who has served as co-chair of the event since 2005; and Helene L. Finkelstein Kaplan ’53, Barnard trustee emerita and chair emerita, who with her husband, Mark, endowed Barnard’s first chair in the physical and natural sciences. Kaplan’s family and friends also set up the Helene L. Kaplan ’53 Scholarship Fund.
Emceed by ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts, the event was attended by more than 500 friends and alumnae, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, and chair of the board of trustees Anna Quindlen ’74; entrepreneur Martha Stewart ’63; singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega ’81; founding editor of CosmoGIRL! and former editor-in-chief of Seventeen Atoosa Behnegar Rubenstein ’93; philanthropists Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82 and Philip Milstein; and Lisa Sprung Cohen ’80 and James Cohen, president and CEO of Hudson Media.
The benefit featured both silent and live auctions, the latter conducted by the energetic and unflappable Harmer Johnson. A third online auction also contributed to the proceeds of more than $1.7 million. “With the difficult economic situation facing families of all income levels today, the financial aid program is more important than ever,” said President Debora Spar. “We are grateful that our alumnae and friends have responded with such remarkable generosity.”
-Photographs by Zach Hyman, Patrick McMullan, Martina Szarek, and David Wentworth
Dear Fellow Alumnae,
The afterglow of a wildly successful Reunion is still with me. Since it was my first as president of the Alumnae Association, I am deeply grateful to the army of staff, committee members, and volunteers that made it happen. A special thanks to the 18 alumnae from the Class of 1944 who embraced me as the president, made me wear an orchid corsage so I would feel special this “first time around,” taught me how to sip sherry, made me laugh at their stories, and affirmed my pride in being a Barnard alumna.
By the time you read this, the new alumnae Web site will be up and running. Log in to the site and follow the step-by-step instructions to set up your account. Then, explore the site. You can follow links to read articles, add friends, and join or establish groups that connect you to other Barnard women with similar interests. We hope that the new social networking features of the site will enable more alumnae to keep in touch with classmates and friends, to make new intergenerational friends, to network with colleagues, and to keep abreast of activities at the College. The site is still evolving, so your feedback is important. Additional information about navigation and how to use certain features is being added to the Help and FAQ sections in order to make the site as user-friendly as possible.
A volunteer’s work is never done. Committee members have already begun to meet to plan the fall activities. In our effort to continuously improve the quality of events and activities, we are fine-tuning the format of Leadership Council, now being called the Leadership Assembly, scheduled for October 9, 2009. One of the changes we are making is that instead of inviting class leaders to attend in their reunion year and the year following, each class will send two representatives every year and each club will send one representative. This will provide the College’s most current data to leaders who are disseminating information. It will also enable a broader representation of the club or class to participate over the five-year cycle. In response to issues about the length of the program, we plan to hold all workshops in one day, ending by 5 p.m. Class officers and club leaders should have received preliminary information to save the date. We will keep you informed as the details of the program take shape.
We hope that everything that we are doing expands and enhances the Barnard community. In his memoir, Dreams from My Father, President Obama says, “Communities have to be created, fought for, tended like gardens.” We want to sow the seeds of a rich, vibrant community of Barnard women of all ages, all over the world; we want to feed each others’ hearts and nurture our intellects, inspiring us to make the world a better place for everyone.
Stay in touch.
Frances L. Sadler ’72
President, Alumnae Association of Barnard College
-Photograph by Elena Seibert