December 23, 2014  • Curriculum

WLI_LogoI am thrilled to share a bit of news about something near and dear to my heart. This semester, with the support of CCAD, particularly Julie Taggart, the Dean of the School of Studio Arts, we created the CCAD Women’s Leadership Institute. As Head of the Business and Entrepreneurship Department it fell to me to develop a vision for the program, and luckily, I have been listening to students clamor about their artistic endeavors, creative goals, and entrepreneurial worth quite some time. To answer some of their questions and provide context for developing their presence and skills, we created this group dedicated to empowering the next generation of female artists. How do we achieve this goal some might ask? Here’s how…


Our mission at the WLI is to build confidence and empowerment among CCAD’s female students through programming, discussions, mentorships, and practice. The organization meets monthly in the CCAD Mind Market to facilitate conversations among group members about topics relevant to their growth as leaders and professionals. Each workshop is organized around a theme, and members complete activities together to build their understanding of the related issues facing women.


Our curriculum this year is built around “Knowing.” (Next year, we’ll tackle “Managing.”) This year’s workshops have included Knowing the Self, Knowing a Network, and Knowing Teams, and next semester, we’ll cover Knowing Conflict, Knowing Bullying, and Knowing Worth.


The Women’s Leadership Institute is comprised of 27 students and 12 dedicated facilitators. The facilitators, comprised of CCAD staff and faculty, join us each meeting to elicit conversation and lend their professional advice to the students.


To support the great work we complete in our workshops, participants are also asked to develop a relationship with a mentor from the community who serves as a guide, a sounding board, and a source of support throughout the year (and beyond). Participants and mentors meet at least four times during the year following the initial “Mentor Match” activity.


Participants also attend two community events during the year to observe and reflect upon the role of women in the community. They share their observations as part of group discussions during each workshop.


Upon completion of this yearlong journey, our participants build four essential things. Each participant builds support with her unique network of peers, facilitators, and mentors that will enhance her future endeavors. She builds skills by developing her authentic leadership strategy based on the curriculum topics. She practices these skills by taking part in hands-on within workshops. And lastly, each participant builds empowerment. She will finish the program with strong support, strong skills, and an even stronger voice.


Our mantra for the Women’s Leadership Institute is “Heads. Hearts. Hands”.   Our participants are mindful of their powerful intellect, impassioned by their emotions, and willing to change the world with their creativity. We learn skills, internalize them in an authentic way, and practice them in real time. I am immensely proud of the work we are accomplishing with this program, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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