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Douglass Residential College

Douglass and IWL Launch Panel Series on Women’s Leadership

Dean Rehbein and Douglass Advisory Board

Douglass and the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers have launched a series of panels around the country centered on learning from women leaders and exploring the influential role Rutgers, Douglass and IWL play in transformative education on leadership. The series, named Education for Transformation: When Women Lead, launched last spring in Washington D.C. with a panel of alumnae leaders speaking before an enthusiastic crowd of over 50 Rutgers alumni.

The series continued on January 24, 2024, as Piermont Bank in New York City became the vibrant backdrop for an inspiring evening of dialogue and networking. An intergenerational panel spoke before a diverse audience of Douglass alumnae on the impact of women's leadership across various spheres of society, community, and family.

Moderated by Dr. Meghan Rehbein, Dean of Douglass Residential College, the panel discussion explored different generations' perspectives on leadership. Dr. Rehbein, drawing from her extensive experience in nonprofit leadership and academia, set the stage for an engaging conversation that resonated with both seasoned professionals and emerging leaders.

"Rutgers, Douglass, and IWL have a national reputation in leadership education for women,” she said. “We conceived of this series to focus on the transformational impact that our programs, for graduate and undergraduate women at Rutgers, can have.”

The panels, meanwhile, celebrate alumnae leaders and their experiences, insights and opinions on leadership today. In New York, for example, Dean Rehbein noted that “the interaction among the three panelists and with the audience around the issues of imposter syndrome, persistence, and moving through challenge was invaluable. It’s a key message for students and recent graduates and it helps to learn from women who have successfully navigated leadership challenges."

The New York panel featured three distinguished alumnae, each making significant strides in their respective fields; Wendy Cai-Lee (DC’96), Founder and CEO of Piermont Bank; Dr. Kristy Perez (DC’01), Director of the Percy E. Sutton SEEK Program at Baruch College; and Princess Belton (DRC’11), Director of Operations at Women of Color in the Arts.

Throughout the evening, attendees were encouraged to participate actively, posing thought-provoking questions that elicited candid responses from the panelists about their personal journeys, challenges, and insights into the evolving landscape of women's leadership. Wendy Cai-Lee, a trailblazer in finance, emphasized the importance of advocating for oneself, encouraging women to overcome fears of inadequacy and pursue leadership roles.

Dr. Kristy Perez, with over 20 years of experience in urban education, highlighted the need to demystify leadership, making it accessible and relatable. She stressed the importance of humanizing leadership, making it a shared and attainable endeavor for everyone.

Princess Belton, Director of Operations at Women of Color in the Arts, emphasized the importance of mindset shifts and setting boundaries as essential elements of effective leadership, inspiring attendees to embrace their roles with confidence.

The evening began with an introduction by Dr. Rebecca Mark, Director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership, who discussed the significance of women standing in their power as leaders. “We’re very excited to be taking this series on the road and really starting conversations all over the country. The success of these panels underscores the importance of creating spaces for meaningful dialogue and mentorship opportunities for women across generations.”

As future panels are presented, co-hosted by Douglass Residential College, The Institute for  Women's Leadership, and the Rutgers University Foundation, they promise to inspire and empower women to lead with purpose and conviction. Future panels are planned for Miami, Philadelphia, and London, with an online panel also in the works. For more information, please view our upcoming events.