Simmons Magazine (Spring 2022)

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Simmons University | Spring 2022

When Simmons leads, the world works better. Defining Leadership President Wooten shares her thoughts on leadership and her vision for the future of Simmons Pg. 14

Building for the Future Pg. 3

Looking Back to Move Forward Pg. 24

A Different Kind of Outreach Pg. 26

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Anna Beasley Brendan Hughes Alisa M. Libby Elinor Lipman ’72 Laura Wareck CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS

John Gillooly Kristen Kirk Main Paige Media Kate Smith Peter Vanderwarker PRINTING

Journeyman Press Simmons University of Boston, MA 02115, publishes Simmons Magazine. Simmons Magazine is printed by Journeyman Press in Newburyport, MA. We welcome readers’ comments. Contact us by mail at Simmons Magazine, University Communications, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115; or by email at magazine@simmons. edu. Copyright © 2022, Simmons University. All publication rights reserved. Diverse views expressed in Simmons Magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or the University.


Regina M. Pisa VICE CHAIR


Denise M. Coll ’95MBA TRUSTEES

14 F E AT U R E

Defining Leadership Saloni Kumar ’23, the Women on Campus, interviews President Lynn Perry Wooten on what drew her to Simmons University, her leadership research, first impressions of the Simmons community, and her vision for the future of Simmons.

W. Mark Bellamy ’19HD Jane Buyers ’81 Agenia Clark P ’16 Barbara Latz Cohen ’68 Tiffany Dufu Jennifer Eckert ’08MSW April Evans ’91MBA Elizabeth Fender ’84 Millicent Gorham ’76, ’11HD Karen Hammond Julie Johnson Staples

Alix Laager P ’20 Stacy Mullaney ’90 Grace Richardson ’60 Kathleen I. SchullerBleakie ’94MBA Jeffrey Singer William Speck Winston Tabb ’72MS Pamela Toulopoulos ’73 Lynn Perry Wooten

UPDATE YOUR COMMUNICATION PREFERENCES Please update your communication preferences so that we can keep you updated with opportunities specific to you. This keeps you connected to Simmons University via newsletters, events, and other ways to stay engaged. ii Simmons / Spring 2022

Photograph (cover) / Adobe Stock | Photograph (above) / Kate Smith

Contents ISSUE 04.01



2 Purpose and Progress A message from President Wooten.


23 Get Into Trouble The Trouble Bar included on Esquire’s Top 27 list.




Building for the Future Take a look at some of the exciting changes on campus as the One Simmons project progresses.

Navigating Leadership President Wooten and CEO of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership have authored a new book on leadership for women.

8 Cultivating Courage and Connection Learn more about this year’s Simmons Leadership Conference and our exciting lineup of speakers.

Looking Back to Move Forward Tamar Evangelestia -Dougherty ’03MS named Director of Smithsonian Libraries and Archives.

26 24

10 Minus Mameve Simmons alumna Elinor Lipman ’72 reflects on her years of friendship with fellow Simmons alumna Mameve Medwed ’64

12 Welcome to Simmons Learn more about new Simmons leadership.

Photographs (top to bottom) / John Gillooly, Courtesy Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty ’03MS and Julia Rodgers ’09

A Different Kind of Outreach Fellonte Misher ’23MSW starts a non-profit to disrupt generational trauma within the Black community.

28 Demystifying Hoarding Eileen Dacey ’17MSW studies hoarding as a mental health issue.

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She's the Real Deal Julia Rodgers ’09 makes a deal on Shark Tank to create HelloPrenup.

32 A Penny for Her Vision Christina Thompson Shutt ’10MS, ’11MA brings new vision to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

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Simmons 2022

Purpose and Progress Gwen Ifill ’77, ’93HD once said, “We can’t expect the world to get better by itself. We have to create something we can leave the next generation.” This is an important and exciting moment to both reflect back and look ahead, as we create the next chapter for our University community. Though the past two years have brought our world unprecedented challenges, it also has provided an opportunity for renewal and innovation as we continue to focus on our core priorities and values: sustaining an excellent educational experience so our students can prepare for a life of purpose and meaning. This time has also brought reflection about societal injustice and inequity, and it has deepened our commitment to change. I have been inspired by the voices of our faculty, students, staff, and alums as we continue to host important conversations and initiatives focused on social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Of course, there is still much work to do. I am so grateful to be back on campus this year and for our community to have the opportunity to be together again in the heart of the Fenway. Oh, how good that has felt! The 2020-2021 academic year marked the first time in 26 years I had not been on a college campus at the start of the fall semester. Fortunately, the return to campus has not meant returning to the status quo. We are taking advantage of all that we have learned during the pandemic as we continue to evolve and make progress. I offer two powerful examples of renewal and innovation. First, we are excited to continue the momentum

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with our transformative campus redesign. During the past year, as part of our One Simmons project, we have updated spaces throughout the academic campus—changes that are enhancing the student experience. And looking ahead, the University’s new science building and its living and learning center will be a centerpiece for the next generation of Simmons teaching, research, and residence. At the same time, we have utilized our longtime leadership in quality online education to introduce a new online undergraduate degree program for adult learners, while also expanding online graduate degree options. These initiatives are making a Simmons education more widely accessible to those who want to strengthen their career opportunities no matter where they live. Both our storied residential experience and our growing online presence remain true to our greatest priority: offering a transformational educational experience that prepares students for a life of purpose, leadership, and action. I have been thinking a great deal lately about the ideas of purpose and progress. Simmons University was founded on these principles: John Simmons was searching for a greater purpose, knowing that educating women shapes a future that is better for all. Now, more than 100 years later, the University continues to rise to that challenge. This April, I am excited to celebrate my official investiture as Simmons’ ninth president. This moment is a tremendous opportunity to showcase the mission and power of Simmons. The Simmons community is full of everyday leaders— individuals who utilize their unique strengths to drive meaningful change and create a more just world. At Simmons, we are expanding our goals, and our reach. Because when Simmons leads, the world works better. As we continue to work, relentlessly, toward progress—for our students, for our community, and for society, I look forward to sharing this moment with you.

Lynn Perry Wooten Simmons University President

Photograph / John Gillooly



for the Future Take a photographic walk with Simmons Magazine through the new spaces and ongoing construction

Photographs / John Gillooly

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4 Simmons 4 Simmons / Spring / Spring 20222022

Renderings (circles) / Elkus Manfredi Architects

Foreword U N I V E R S I T Y U P D AT E S


One Simmons construction is well under way, with the second stage nearly completed. The first stage aimed to modernize and make accessible many areas on the Academic Campus to improve the student experience. The second stage includes renovations to Lefavour Hall, which will host a completely redesigned library and brand new science center, to open in the Summer of 2022. These renovations prepare us for the decommisioning of the Park Science Building to make way for the living and learning center, which will provide modern living, athletic, study, and dining spaces for students. Some notable changes on campus include:


New Science Center and Simulation Center, Main College Building West Wing, 2nd and 3rd floor, Lefavour Hall, 2nd to 4th floor

The science center features brand new classroom and lab spaces and a state-of-the-art simulation center.

2 3 4 Photograph (background) / John Gillooly | Photographs (circles) / Peter Vanderwarker | Architects / Elkus Manfredi Architects

New Library, Main College Building West Wing, ground and 1st floor, and Lefavour Hall, 1st floor

The newly designed library space will enable more collaborative learning, group study, and quiet study areas over 14,000 square feet, and will also house the new circulation desk and the University archives. Media Center, Main College Building, 1st floor

The Media Center houses Simmons Radio, the Alden Trust Video Studio, and a multi-purpose, flexible collaboration space with new podcast rooms. Whether students are working on social media, print media, video, radio, or a combination of all, this is a newly created space for these activities. Student Services One Stop, Main College Building, 2nd floor

The 2nd floor of the east side of the MCB is now the Student Services One Stop, housing all student business services (Student Financial Services, Cashier’s Window, Registrar, Bursar, Veteran Services).

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Maker Space, One Palace Road, 1st floor

The Maker Space is designed as a student-led facility that will be used for creative activity, entrepreneurial exploration, and learning about robotics and technology. Student Collaborative Lounge Space, One Palace Road, 1st floor

Designed to promote both individual and group collaborative study, this lobby has been transformed with flexible seating, group tables, laptop bars, and archival displays. Study Booths, Management and Academic Building, One Palace Road Building

Several areas across One Palace Road and the Management Building have had new study booths, laptop bars, and lounge spaces added. Multicultural Center, Management and Academic Building, 1st floor

The Multicultural Center features flexible soft seating, a multipurpose screen, a new kitchenette, and a common dining/event table. The space outside the MCC will serve as a gallery for artwork and archival displays as determined by the students. The Jennifer Eckert Center for Leadership and Engagement, Management and Academic Building, 1st floor

The new space features large windows overlooking the quad, several gathering and meeting spaces, a whiteboard wall, and offices for student groups and organizations. The space is an energized, colorful, and collaborative space for students to socialize and work. A note about the Academic Campus quad: Utilities under the quad are being re-routed in preparation for the living and learning center, but the quad will be fully restored!

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Photograph (background) / John Gillooly | Photographs (circles) / Peter Vanderwarker | Architects / Elkus Manfredi Architects

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Cultivating Courage and Connection Our next Leadership Conference takes place online on April 13, 2022

The Simmons Leadership Conference,

produced by the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership, is always filled with inspiring messages from powerful leaders. The next Leadership Conference will be virtual and take place on April 13, 2022, and will focus on cultivating courage and connection to empower women to “arrive and thrive” in today’s business landscape. This year's conference participants will gain inspiration from the wisdom of world-class women leaders, build leadership skills and knowledge, and network with peers and allies from across the globe. This year's lineup of speakers will share their personal journeys, offer career-building advice, and lead thought-provoking discussions and includes Simone Biles, Brené Brown, and Amanda Gorman.




Simone Biles

Brené Brown

Amanda Gorman

The World's Most Decorated Gymnast

Researcher and Bestselling Author

America's First Youth Poet Laureate

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Photographs (top) / Main Paige Media | Photographs (bottom) / Courtesy of respective speakers

Foreword U N I V E R S I T Y U P D AT E S

Navigating Leadership Guidance and practices from 24 of the world’s most successful leaders In today’s high-pressure work environment,

how do professional women continue to show up for their team, and themselves? To answer this question, Simmons President Lynn Perry Wooten, PhD, and CEO of the Simmons Institute for Inclusive Leadership, Susan MacKenty Brady, joined forces with Janet Foutty, executive chair of the board of Deloitte US, to create Arrive and Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership. Supported by the lived experience of the three co-authors, as well as research and advice from some of the world’s most successful leaders, the guide shares seven practices to empower leaders in any stage of their career. Bringing together insights from rich careers in business and academia, the authors share professional and personal experiences to highlight the importance of courage, resilience, and authenticity.

“Bravo to this trio of authors who, leveraging their powerful and distinct leadership experiences, perspectives, and networks, bring us closer to understanding the essence of authentic leadership. This book is chock full of inspiration and tangible lessons for being our best and truest self.” s Erika H. James Dean of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania


Lynn Perry Wooten President of Simmons University

Arrive and Thrive Book Cover (top) / McGraw Hill | Photographs (bottom) / Courtesy of respective speakers


Susan Brady CEO of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership

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Voices of Simmons Stories From Simmons Community Members

Minus Mameve Elinor Lipman ’72 Reflects on Her Friendship with Mameve Medwed ’64 Elinor Lipman ’72 and Mameve (Stern) Medwed ’64 did not overlap at Simmons, but met later at a fiction workshop, bonding over their shared love of literature and writing. With 21 published books between them, and numerous awards and accolades, they exemplify that special something that Simmons graduates bring into the world. Shortly after Medwed died in December, Lipman said that she wanted to write a love letter to their long and deep friendship.

by Elinor Lipman ’72 We were two peas in a literary pod from the time

we first met, 43 years ago at a Brandeis Adult Ed fiction workshop. I was new to short-story writing; Mameve was advanced, having taught fiction at the Cambridge Center, but we were both there hoping to write stories worthy of publication. I loved hers; I laughed when they were read aloud in class, and she returned the favor. We were under the same banner, loosely labeled romantic comedy.

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When the workshop ended, we formed a peer writing group that met at her house—good company, kind critiques, chilled wine. I took a step back when I had my son in 1982; didn’t write another word for two years until I joined a workshop she’d signed up for at the Radcliffe Institute. Mid-semester, Mameve brought in champagne and croissants to celebrate the sale of a story to the Boston Globe Magazine. The whole class toasted and cheered. Two weeks later

she had another sale, this one to Redbook, occasioning more champagne. The class’s less than enthusiastic, possibly green-eyed reaction to her news became a lifelong favorite tease of mine, one I always told when introducing her at an event. Oh, Mameve, we’re so… happy for you. It was during that semester that I read in the New York Times Book Review that short story collections by young(ish) women were getting published. I called Mameve. Neither of us had enough for a whole book, but, I wondered, what if we combined ours? We chose eight apiece, titled them AWFULLY NICE WOMEN, sent them off to agents whose names we begged from every published writer we knew. That joint collection didn’t come to pass, but the friendship blossomed. Daily conversations about the project led to frequent conversations about everything. We had husbands. We had sons. We talked so often about work, about writing, agents, editors, publicists and husbands that we assigned numbers to these topics: 1 for editor, 2 for agent, 3 for publicist, 4 for husbands. I’d answer the phone and hear a disgruntled “Number four”—making me laugh, exactly what she was going for. Our publishing paths weren’t in sync at the beginning. The agent who

represented the joint collection decided to submit our stories separately. When mine sold and hers didn’t, an understandably disappointed Mameve celebrated with me—a huge testament to her character and generosity. The cheerleading remained a two-way street. I switched to novel-writing, and nagged her to follow suit, especially after one of her published stories seemed as if it were begging to be the first chapter of a novel. Unconvinced, groaning all the way, she complied. Her first draft made me ask if the happy ending might be with that guy and not that guy? A perfect rewrite emerged and Mail went to a new agent and then out to editors. What followed was a delicious bidding war and one of the most fun weeks of either of our lives. My own work was abandoned, waiting for her updates. She’d call me with every higher bid, culminating with a sale. Such joy—a first novel published at 55, with five more to follow. She was my best audience, my sounding board, my confidante. I ran everything by her—every chapter, every essay, every book review, every blurb. I consulted her on matters of etiquette: did this email have the right tone? Should I send it now or not at all? In forty-plus years of close friendship, there were never any grievances to

Photograph / Courtesy Elinor Lipman ’72 (pictured on left, Mameve Medwed ’64 on right)

nurse, no harsh words ever spoken, never even a misunderstanding that needed an apology. She was so smart. Her knowledge of literature and art was encyclopedic, though she’d be the first to deny that. I don’t remember when we realized that we’d both gone to Simmons, but we loved the coincidence.

Eight years apart, we hadn’t overlapped, but both of us had—and still have— life-long friends from our respective classes, and both of us could always count on Simmons alums showing up for our readings, no matter how far-flung the event. (A joint one that we did at the invitation of Simmons’ Professor David Gullette

“We were the foster mother of each other’s books, thanked on every acknowledgments page. Two of my books are dedicated to her. We both knew she didn’t have long to live when I told her that my next book would also be hers. Neither of us acknowledged that this time her name would be preceded by “to the memory of…” s Elinor Lipman ’72

Photograph / Courtesy Elinor Lipman ’72 (pictured on left, Mameve Medwed ’64 on right)

was delayed while we got stuck in an elevator in 300 The Fenway for 40 minutes.) She’d taken Wylie Sypher’s famous Shakespeare class, and I had not, a lifelong regret, making her the more erudite between the two of us. “I don’t get that,” I’d say about a phrase in one of her book reviews. She’d say kindly, “It’s pretty wellknown. It’s from Macbeth.” Big-picture champions for sure, but I was the bad cop when it came to reading her rough drafts, and she was the good cop about mine. I’d send her a chapter, she’d read it immediately, call me, and rarely open with anything less than a laughing “Oh, I loved this.” I was a harder marker. I’d say, “Too much! You have three examples when one would do.” Or “You already told us that.” “Always the editor,” she’d murmur. (Attributable to Copy and Proof, which I took my sophomore year at Simmons, taught by Prof. Raymond Bosworth.) This is who she was: She called me one morning, and yelped, “I woke up in the middle of the night worried that if you heard good news about your new book, you’d be afraid to tell me, thinking you’d hurt my feelings. (She had a novel coming out the same month.) I want to know everything. Besides, it’s dedicated to me. It’s my book too!” It was. Every sentence had been run by her. We were the foster mother of each other’s books, thanked

on every acknowledgments page. Two of my books are dedicated to her. We both knew she didn’t have long to live when I told her that my next book would also be hers. Neither of us acknowledged that this time her name would be preceded by “to the memory of…” Her last novel, prophetically titled, Minus Me, was published the month her cancer was diagnosed. She lived one more year, and died on December 26. Now it’s Minus Mameve—best friend, best reader, best audience. Her books live on, as does my hourly impulse to call her, to forward an email, to share good or bad news. It’s an adjustment yet to be made. She used to answer the phone on the first ring, which got me too accustomed to the sense that she was always there. z

H OW TO S U B M I T Voices of Simmons To submit a proposal for a story either in your own voice or featuring a Simmons student, alum, or other community member, please email Class Notes To submit life updates for class notes, email alumnet@ Look for or start your class group on for current class notes. For story submissions, we cannot guarantee publication. All submissions will undergo an editorial process and review as part of publication. Submission indicates permission for potential publishing in Simmons Magazine, on the website, or on our social media channels.

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Welcome to Simmons Meet New Leaders in the Simmons Community

VICE PRESIDENT OF STUDENT AFFAIRS: DR. RENIQUE KERSH Dr. Renique Kersh is a passionate and dedicated leader with a strong understanding of the many factors that impact and influence the student experience. In the months since joining Simmons, Dr. Kersh has focused on making sure students have the support they need to realize their leadership potentenial not only in their coursework, but as they engage with their home, community, and the world beyond. Another focus for Dr. Kersh is ensuring that all students, on-the-ground and online, graduate or undergraduate, have access to the same support and quintessential Simmons experience, particularly first-generation and underserved students. An expert in the areas of student development, retention and success, Dr. Kersh previously served as associate vice provost for student engagement

and success at Northern Illinois University. In this role, she ensured a high-quality experience for students and provided leadership and strategic vision on a host of critical student-related initiatives. In addition, Dr. Kersh has significant experience in leadership development and has the unique ability to bridge academic and student life. She is also a strong champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, providing leadership on initiatives related to developing strategies to address equity gaps and barriers to student success. Kersh oversees the staff in residential life, orientation and first-year programs, community standards, student support, student leadership and activities, the health center, the counseling center, spiritual life, and athletics and recreation.

JENNIFER ECKERT SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK CHAIR: MICHELLE PUTNAM Professor Michelle Putnam is the first ever Jennifer Eckert School of Social Work chair. Putnam is an international leader in research exploring the population of persons aging with long-term disabilities, such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, intellectual disabilities, blindness, and mental health conditions. With the award, Dr. Putnam will begin developing an international research and practice network focused on aging with disability and bridging aging and disability programs and systems. She also plans to collaborate with colleagues to develop training materials and programs to support knowledge and capacity-building among professionals, including social workers, to meet the needs of

JOAN M. WARBURG CHAIR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: THOMAS DOUGHERTY Former US Ambassador Thomas Dougherty is the new Joan M. Warburg Chair of International Relations. Established with the help of a generous grant from Joan Melber Warburg ’45, the Warburg Chair in International Relations brings distinguished practitioners with significant experience in international relations to Simmons. Dougherty is a highly experienced diplomat who currently serves as the executive director of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, where he leads one of the largest Fulbright scholarship exchange programs in the world. Prior to that, he served as the US ambassador to Burkina Faso from 2010 to 2013. As the Warburg Chair, Dougherty will join the international relations department, which includes

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the fields of political science, economics, history, women’s studies, and foreign languages. He will also help to organize programming throughout the academic year and teach the senior seminar in international relations and a special topic course in the spring. Dougherty’s career with the State Department spans nearly 30 years and includes roles such as acting deputy assistant secretary. He has held multiple positions overseas in Africa, Iraq and the Middle East, Europe, and in East Asia/Pacific. Dougherty has significant experience with a wide range of foreign affairs agencies, including USAID, the Peace Corps, the defense and intelligence agencies, CDC, and international development NGOs.

this non-traditional aging population, which often goes unmentioned in educational curriculum. In addition, she will develop new research projects and complete existing projects, as well as engage in scholarly writing to advance knowledge in this area of social work. Simmons endowed chair positions are created through gifts from alumnae/i and friends of the University in honor of those who have served notably. Awards recognize outstanding teaching, research, service, and the ability to engage students and the community. Dr. Eckert is a Simmons University trustee, a licensed clinical social worker, and the founder of the nonprofit Boston Post Adoption Resources.

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER: MEGHAN E. KASS Meghan E. Kass is an experienced higher education leader, who for the past 14 years has served Wheaton College in a variety of leadership roles, most recently serving as vice president for finance and administration and treasurer. In this role, Kass oversaw the college’s $80 million annual budget and managed a diverse 130-person team which included a range of departments including accounting, budgeting, business and auxiliary services, campus safety and facilities, human resources, and information technology, among others. Prior to her time at Wheaton, Meghan served as assistant controller for Brown University and also worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Kass also possesses a strategic and thoughtful approach to meeting the needs of today’s

higher education institutions. As a certified public accountant, she has a passion for numbers and is adept at utilizing data to achieve creative solutions. Her success in financial reporting and her experience working with complex financial models will also be an asset as Simmons emerges from this pandemic and navigates an increasingly competitive higher education market. She is a graduate of Providence College and earned her MBA at Bryant University. Kass lives in Norton, Massachusetts with her husband Ryan, their three children Courtney, RJ, and Thomas, and their lovable Golden Retriever, Remy.

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER: BEC ROLLINS bec rollins is an accomplished visual journalist and communications professional who has significant experience leading major organizational communications efforts in the fields of higher education and global health. Most recently bec served as the chief global communications officer at Pathfinder International, where she developed a cohesive strategic brand identity across all platforms. Prior to that, bec was vice president of communications and marketing at Appalachian Mountain Club and the chief communications officer for Partners in Health. She also spent more than a decade with Harvard University, where she served as senior multimedia producer and associate news director.

In this role at Simmons, bec will lead the marketing and communications team and build a distinctive brand platform that effectively communicates Simmons’ value and elevates the University’s profile with key audiences. In addition, bec will implement communications best practices while working with stakeholders across our institution. bec will also serve as a key thought partner to support student recruitment and enrollment goals and collaborate with Advancement to provide support for fundraising communications. bec currently resides in Boston. She is passionate about landscape design, and she shares an Asian-inspired garden and home with a very large dog named tru.

CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER: BETH KRAMER Beth Kramer is a strategic fundraising executive with more than 25 years of development experience at well-known institutions throughout Boston. She has led capital campaigns and secured high profile gifts to endow fellowships, transform academic spaces, and build research centers. Most recently, Beth served as the vice president for advancement at Olin College of Engineering. She played a key role in helping Olin strengthen its annual giving program and design engaging funding opportunities. Prior to that, Beth was the associate dean for development and alumni relations at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where she secured the school’s second largest gift in history to create a new research center.

In this role at Simmons, Beth will oversee the advancement team and continue to build a comprehensive advancement program that effectively engages alumnae/i and identifies and inspires donors at all levels. Beth understands the vital role that a strong advancement program plays in helping us engage key audiences and achieve our strategic priorities. Her passion for higher education and a data-driven approach will be a major asset that will help Simmons create new strategic opportunities that can motivate key stakeholders to invest in the future of our University. Beth, who is an avid yoga practitioner and weekend hiker, currently resides in Needham with her husband Martin. She is also the mother of two adult daughters, Allyson and Natalie.

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Monday, April 11, 2022

Learn more:

Def ining Leadership Simmons’ Woman on Campus Sits Down with President Wooten


Photograph / Kate Smith

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This feature is a conversation between Woman on Campus Saloni Kumar ’23 and President Lynn Perry Wooten. As Woman on Campus, Saloni serves as the unofficial face of Simmons University, highlighting what makes our students and school innovative, fun, and unique. Read their conversation on President Wooten’s first impressions of Simmons, her definition of leadership, and her hopes for the future of the University. What drew you to Simmons University? I’ve always valued women’s education and went to an all-girls high school myself, so I’ve known about Simmons for a long time. It’s been at the forefront of women’s higher education since 1899, when John Simmons had a mission to create a university where women could be educated in liberal arts and learn how to make an independent livelihood. Fast forward to almost 125 years later—I resonate with the contemporary mission of Simmons and the notion that as educators, we prepare students for their lifelong work. And you hear me talk a lot about lifelong work, not only professional work but civic and personal work. I admire our great faculty and their scholarship, particularly their scholarship in improving the human condition. Another big attraction was the Institute for Inclusive Leadership because that’s my area of research. You’ve researched both leadership and inclusion leadership. Have you seen changes over your years of research? I started researching this topic before it was hot, studying various aspects of inclusive leadership in the ’90s—right before many of our students were born. My earlier papers looked at what it means to be a women-friendly organization. Sadly, I think many organizations are still trying to learn that—how you create supportive cultures, especially when women have responsibilities and different styles of leading and management. The other area of my research in the ’90s was looking at how organizations handle discrimination crises. Today, we look at what’s happening in Minneapolis and around the nation. We still see many of the same elements involved in these discrimination crises—including barriers and unconscious biases, and the way they’re resulting in inappropriate behaviors. We’ve learned a lot, but we’re still learning. We know we have to get through the unconscious biases, we know we have to call out the “-isms,” and we know that we have to value diversity. These everyday practices are more easily researched than actually done.

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“For me, leadership is not positional—it’s about how I show up to be my best self and use my strengths and talents to contribute to the world every day.” s Lynn Perry Wooten

President, Simmons University

I was just talking to my professor about this recently. We learn so much theory, which is extremely important, but at the same time, I want to do something. I feel that learning should combine with action. That’s such a good point, and it’s what I want to see more of at Simmons. When I discuss leadership, I talk about the “knowing,” the “doing,” and the “being.” The “knowing” is what you’re doing right now. It’s why we all love college campuses because we get to soak up knowledge. But my research and my educational practices always bridge theory with the “doing.” Part of college is the “being.” It’s making sense of your identity, who you are, and the mark you want to make on the world. What have you learned about being a leader from the pandemic? When you’re leading during a pandemic, you’re spending a lot of time in crisis management mode, ensuring safety protocols and community well-being. But you also have to balance that with the need to think strategically and plan for the future. What is Simmons’ position in the world? Who do we want to be in this decade? What education do young students need? How do we nurture our alumnae/i base? These are all questions we’re asking. You’re assessing everything you have to do while handling the crisis and balancing that with new strategies for the future. And that’s hard in the midst of a health pandemic, a racial reckoning, and a confrontation with the “-isms.” It’s also the uncertainty of the economy. We’re juggling all of these right now while thinking about the future. And I am very excited about the future for Simmons. Is there anything surprising you learned about Simmons and the Simmons community during your first 18 months as president? I’m very good at doing my homework, and you learn a lot about community by meeting people and interacting with them. But the intensity of social justice has been a very pleasant surprise. It’s stated on the website, and I heard it in my presidential interview process, but I discovered that Simmons’ commitment to social justice is genuine. I’m proud of the social justice work people are doing here and how it’s embedded in our DNA.

What do you hope the future of Simmons looks like? Simmons has evolved. Simmons is known as an undergraduate women-centered school, and we’re still that, but we also have large graduate programs, online programs, and our Institute for Inclusive Leadership. So, you’ll hear me say this: “two by two plus one.” Online and on the ground; undergrad and grad; and then the Institute for Inclusive Leadership. I’m looking at those five pockets. Simmons really is this great place to work, to learn, and to be in a community. I want people to come to Simmons because we prepare you for lifelong work, but also because we prepare you

“I want people to come to Simmons because we prepare you for lifelong work, but also because we prepare you to practice everyday leadership, whatever your calling. This is learning leadership, making progress in the world, and being very purposeful about it.” s Lynn Perry Wooten

President, Simmons University

Photograph / John Gillooly

to practice everyday leadership, whatever your calling. This is learning leadership, making progress in the world, and being very purposeful about it. Our One Simmons real estate project is big, as we bring our living and learning campus and academic campus together. I’m also excited about things we’re doing to be an inclusive university—making access and affordability important as well as where we educate people to be equity warriors, no matter their chosen profession. I struggle with the word “leadership” because I always associate it with patriarchal connotations. What does leadership mean to you? This is why I always use the adjective “everyday.” I don’t think of leadership as hierarchical. I want to change the nomenclature and rhetoric at Simmons and recognize everyone here as a leader. You choose Simmons because that magical part of Simmons feeds you, and we all have different callings. So, for me, leadership is not positional—it’s about how I show up to be my best self and use my strengths and talents to contribute to the world every day. It’s everyday acts. I think about growing up, with the teachers I had who were leaders, girl scout leaders, my mother and aunt, or the librarian who let me check out books. Leadership comes in so many forms, and it’s a collective experience. I come from a very collective, communal culture—it’s not this individual, one person. One of my taglines about leadership is “it takes a village.”

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“We empower students to find their voice and amplify it. This is our everyday leadership— ensuring that women are successful in their life's work. And that’s what I still believe is the value of a women-centered education.”

You’re at a pretty unique position right now, being the first African American president of Simmons. What are some of the challenges you faced getting here? What do you hope for the next generation of leaders who pave the way forward? I like to say that I’m grateful—I’m blessed that I’ve had mentors who have the notion of lifting as they climb. When I think about barriers and being the first African American president at Simmons, I think about how some people want to know your background—they’re curious. They may question your competencies. I tell them it comes down to why I’m interested in the role, the experience I have, all of those types of things. As an African American woman, there are networks that I wasn’t allowed in. My goal is to pass on what I’ve learned, and that it becomes embedded in systems. That’s why I like the Simmons presidency—I not only get to touch lives and teams, but I get to think about changing systems and the next generation of women leaders. Why do you think a women-centered education is still necessary? For the ability to come together in community to learn and empower each other. And to really set the pathway and invest in system changes. In most careers, women still lag. We know women do not pursue promotions and careers that are intense because there’s a confidence gap. Also, we know women are still shut out of a lot of clubs and networks. Women-centered colleges are in the business of educating and empowering women to become leaders, but they’re also in the business of helping individuals and collectives come together to keep on shattering the glass ceilings. We empower students to find their voice and amplify it. This is our everyday leadership—ensuring that women are successful in their life's work. And that’s what I still believe is the value of a women-centered education. What are you looking forward to during the upcoming investiture? Becoming president during the middle of the pandemic prevented Simmons from having the type of celebration that would typically mark the occasion. I am so pleased to see the renewed vibrancy on campus and the way our community continues to engage each other in and out of the classroom. More than anything, I view this investiture as an opportunity to celebrate Simmons. I truly believe that when Simmons leads the world works better, and I am excited for this moment to showcase the impact of our community and our institution.

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The Meaning of Everyday Leadership Everyday leadership is the act of leveraging individual strengths and passions to drive meaningful change. Everyday leaders embrace a life of learning and service, and they utilize their talents to make the world better. Everyday leaders address the crises of their time to make the world a better place and invest for future generations. When you are an everyday leader: n




You are true to your origin story, identity, values, and strengths. You show up as your best self and empower others to be their best selves. You are an inclusive leader who builds community because you know the power of collaboration and the collective best. You are courageous in pursuit of your vision and in challenging the status quo.

To start to incorporate everyday leadership into your own lives, I'd like to share five daily practices: n n n n n

Be self-aware Showcase your strengths Prioritize well-being Focus on inclusion and belonging Cultivate healthy resilience

Learn more about everyday leadership at

“Each of us can utilize our unique strengths to be a leader in our everyday lives, to include everyone around us in our work, and to help all of us thrive.” s Lynn Perry Wooten

President, Simmons University

Photograph / Kate Smith

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Mentoring, Kinship, and “Lifting as We Climb” Since I became president of Simmons University, I have met with several distinguished groups of alumnae/i and Bostonians who have graciously invited me into their networks. The rich discussions have prompted me to reflect upon the importance of mentorship, and the impact mentoring can have not just on our careers but for our lives. We benefit and learn when we are mentored, and we lift one another up when we mentor others. Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, once famously said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” She was describing the importance of role models for women to imagine a future in fields where there are enormous gender gaps. And more broadly, mentors can help us see ourselves more clearly, helping us envision a path ahead we may not have previously imagined. We have wonderful examples of the power of mentorship here at Simmons. Our Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program serves African American, Latinx, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) students. With a support network of 21 mentors, the program helps ALANA and first-generation nursing students succeed in their studies and establish their careers. This program was made possible by a gift from Nursing alumna Phyllis Nickerson Dotson ’62 and George Dotson in 2009, and already has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of Dotson Scholars. I have spoken with many alumnae/i who point to Sim-

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mons faculty members as important mentors in their lives. Gwen Ifill ’77, ’93HD often talked of the impact Professor Alden Poole had on her life and career, inscribing her book Breakthrough to him this way: “To Mr. Poole: Without whom I would never have pulled it off. Love, Gwen.” Gwen became known for her mentorship as well, giving generously of her time and guidance to younger journalists, especially women of color. For me, mentoring means so much more than professional coaching or skills instruction. A valued mentor can become a co-pilot in our lives. One who sees us as a whole person. One who empowers us to be our best selves. Mentoring is an act of generosity, and of kinship. Mary Church Terrell said that “we lift as we climb.” Creating inter-generational mentoring opportunities can be especially meaningful for all involved. Of course, mentorship is a two-way street. Here are the guideposts I have developed in order to be a good “mentee” and make the most of the gifts all my mentors have given me: listen well; come into conversations with mentors prepared with questions and issues to work through together; follow up with gratitude for their time and guidance; and, as Gwen did, pay it forward by reaching out to those you might mentor and lift up. As we mentor and as we are mentored, we create kinship networks that support all of us in the course of our careers— and our lives.

Photograph / Kate Smith


Saloni Kumar ’23 Why did you want to become the Woman on Campus? When I came to Simmons, I was interested in their mission to become the most inclusive campus in New England. I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty ambitious.” My first year of college, I was hungry for ways to engage with this mission in a way that felt true to myself. When I saw the opening for the Woman on Campus position, I saw an opportunity to combine my passion for authentic storytelling with my commitment to opening the door for all types of stories. As a first-generation South Asian student (and the first Asian Woman on Campus), I thought I could bring a different perspective that would benefit all students. My goal with this position is to show that there are many ways to be a Simmons student that allow you to grow from your lived experiences. If you’re curious about my experience as the Woman on Campus, you can head over to and check out what a day in my life looks like! Who is your favorite professor? That’s a tough question. I’ve had the ability to forge personal relationships with professors both in and out of class. They’ve all taught me something new about myself and the world around me. However, if I had to choose, it would be Professor Diane Grossman. She is the director of the Honors Program and taught my first Simmons class. Besides being around my height (shoutout to the under-five-feet squad), she always makes time to support my questions about choosing a major, picking classes, and more. I couldn’t have done my first year without her. What’s been your favorite course so far? A leadership class I took with Dr. Becky Thompson. The course was very different from your typical lecture; there was space for yoga, meditation, and conversations about the intersection of mindfulness and activism. We also were able to question who we define as a leader and why. She created an open community to foster dynamic conversations that I still recall as I navigate the present moment.

“As a first generation South Asian student (and the first Asian Woman on Campus), I thought I could bring a different perspective that would benefit all students. My goal with this position is to show that there are many ways to be a Simmons student that allow you to grow from your lived experiences.” s Saloni Kumar ’23

The Simmons University Woman on Campus

Where is your favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot is definitely the Multicultural Center. I am so grateful for the student activism of the Black Student Organization to make this space possible. I feel I can just “be” there, which is a much needed relief from the hectic school day. What’s your go-to activity for self-care? Does looking at memes count? I try to listen to my body’s needs and meet them the best I can. I like taking walks, baking, singing, dancing, and writing. Also, therapy. What have you been binge-watching and reading lately? This isn’t happening yet, but my favorite show of all time is Killing Eve. (Yes, it’s pretty stereotypically queer of me.) The last season is coming out soon, and I literally cannot wait! I spend a lot of time reading for my major, so I don’t really get the time to do it for fun. Who have you been following lately? For Instagram accounts, I love the content of @sonyareneetaylor, @bunnymichael, and @soolooka.

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Reunion 2022 Making Connections Building Community Simmons Network is an exclusive online platform for the Simmons community and is the place to go to meet the newest members of the alumnae/i community and reunite with friends!

NETWORKING Find alumnae/i who share career and personal interests, and connect through groups, messaging, or events.

MENTORING Elevate your career by connecting to other alumnae/i for mentoring relationships.

GIVING BACK Share news and job opportunities with your classmates and the Simmons community. Join with your LinkedIn, Facebook, or email account at or download the Graduway Community app on the App Store or Simmons Network on Google Play.

For updates, stay tuned to For class years ending in 2 & 7


Get Into Trouble Alum-owned bar lands on Esquire’s list of Top 27 in America by Anna Beasley

Kaitlyn Soligan Owens ’12MA knows her

industry isn’t traditionally designed for women to succeed. But drawing on lessons learned in Simmons’ gender and cultural studies program about post-structuralist, intersectional feminism, Owens sees the world differently. She recognized that the traditional manner of building a business wasn’t necessarily right for her

Photograph / Kristen Kirk

or her team—an owner-operated Louisville bar run by two women and a staff of mostly women. So she set out to invent new ways of doing things. Owens made sure that the Trouble Bar was designed from the ground up with accessibility as a principle. “I have been someone who needed access and inclusivity and general human thoughtfulness that is too often scarce in our normative designs—

most folks in my life have been as well," she says. To that end, Owens thought carefully about what would be needed to design a space where people with mobility challenges would feel comfortable navigating; where people with non-conforming gender identities or who are transitioning would feel not only safe, but actively welcome; where a black woman would

feel comfortable, and about what a sober person might need. “We wanted every person who walked in to know that they were welcome and that this bar could be a home if they wanted it to be one, and we just keep aiming for that goal every day." At first, Owens didn’t know that her bar had ended up on Esquire’s 27 Best Bars of 2021, and only found out when a friend congratulated

her on social media. “It feels so special to help demonstrate that you can build a business this way and be successful. I know how strong our bar scene is, and I want to see a lot more of us on that list in the future. I truly want Louisville to have as many recognized and celebrated bars as New York or LA. We make all that bourbon everyone is drinking—I’d like them to drink it here!" z

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Looking Back to Move Forward Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty ’03MS Named Director of Smithsonian Libraries and Archives by Anna Beasley Simmons University is proud to share that

Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty ’03MS has been appointed director of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. According to the Smithsonian, Evangelestia-Dougherty will oversee an annual budget of over $16 million and 22 library branches and reading rooms located in Washington, DC, New York City, Maryland, Virginia, and the Republic of Panama. Evangelestia-Dougherty is currently an associate university librarian at Cornell University Library, where she launched a new research hub for rare and distinctive collections. She is also a faculty member at UCLA’s California Rare Book School. In her new role, Evangelestia-Dougherty will succeed Nancy Gwinn, director of Smithsonian Libraries, and Anne Van Camp, director of Smithsonian Institution Archives.

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For Evangelestia-Dougherty, this role is a dream realized. ​​The Smithsonian has always been a special place to her—a necessary stop whenever she visited DC. Since her appointment, Evangelestia-Dougherty has fielded hundreds of congratulatory messages from well-wishers across the country, one of which was from former director of the Smithsonian Libraries, Nancy Gwinn, who painted a beautiful picture of how adventurous life would be in this position. Gwinn wrote about the office overlooking Constitution Avenue and described that during an inauguration, you’ll feel like you’re in the center of “political Washington, DC.” She also said that Evangelestia-Dougherty’s first visit to the Library of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Republic of Panama is likely to be a highlight.

Photograph / Courtesy Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty ’03MS

“Nancy told me that she was pleased to see the announcement of my selection,” says Evangelestia-Dougherty. “She told me I have much experience to bring to the Smithsonian, and it was so wonderful to hear. Those are big shoes to fill, and for her to give me her blessing in that way, I felt so privileged.” Although stepping into this newly merged role presents its own challenges, Evangelestia-Dougherty’s unique background ensures she’s well-equipped for the task. In fact, for the majority of Evangelestia-Dougherty’s career, she has been the first person in newly created positions. “I was the first consulting archivist for the Black Metropolis

Research Consortium at the University of Chicago. I’m the first associate university librarian role for rare and distinctive collections at Cornell University Library,” explains Evangelestia-Dougherty. “Serving in a newly created position can have its advantages: there is no existing predecessor who served in exactly the same role or history for your role; so you can be creative about your approach to it, but it can also be daunting because there’s no template for your work. But I’ve always been good at thriving in these roles.” In addition to her proven track record of community outreach, fundraising, and development, Evangelestia-Dougherty brings her lifelong passion for

“I facilitate the discovery of the past to create a better future. I believe I have made librarianship a better place of justice, kindness, and respect. That is always at the core of what I believe in, and I have helped a lot of people connect with their history and find libraries as a career—that alone makes me proud.” s Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty ’03MS

libraries and archives to this role. Growing up in Chicago, libraries were simultaneously a place for community and a form of entertainment for her family. Later as a high school student, she found herself in the archives of the Chicago History Museum searching for sources on the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago’s Northside. “During my visit, I recall being very conscious of the space and how materials were presented,” says Evangelestia-Dougherty, “all in neatly packed boxes and the white gloves—it became very clear to me that I was in a special place. . . This is a place where memory and history are kept and preserved. There was a certain seriousness to it—portraits on the walls, the research itself. I would lose myself in the research, and opening each folder was like uncovering a mystery.” Although Evangelestia-Dougherty naturally gravitated towards collections and history, she was encouraged by her mother to pursue more lucrative careers in medicine or law as a Black person. And she tried: first entering college to pursue premed, then graduating with a political science

degree from the University of Houston— but neither stuck. “It seemed I was trying a lot of different things, but the one constant was that I gravitated towards books and libraries,” says Evangelestia-Dougherty. “I didn’t become a lawyer, but I worked in law libraries. I didn’t become a biologist, but I ended up working in a science library.” In the years following college, Evangelestia-Dougherty had supervisors on separate occasions encourage her to pursue a career in libraries and archives. This time, she followed her passions and embarked on her next chapter. Simmons immediately stood out to Evangelestia-Dougherty because of its pioneering graduates, particularly in archives and special collections. The rich archival and special collections setting in Boston made for an illuminating educational experience, but when Evangelestia-Dougherty looks back on her years at Simmons, she first thinks of the tightknit community. She remembers Dr. Em Claire Knowles treating students as family, never allowing them to feel like “just a num-

ber,” and Dr. Jeannette Bastian’s vivid stories of working in archives in the Virgin Islands. “One of the greatest things about being in her classes was that she truly possessed a gift for bringing together archival theory and applying it to practice,” says Evangelestia-Dougherty of Dr. Bastian. “Her perspective was unique, and she understood how privileged groups can silence narratives which lead to an erasure of culture. Jeannette’s contributions really elevated the archives concentration at Simmons.” Evangelestia-Dougherty brings these important lessons directly into her career, translating her active civic engagement and shared values into her work in libraries and archives. It is part of her personal mission to restore equilibrium between the marginalized and the privileged. “I facilitate the discovery of the past to create a better future,” says Evangelestia-Dougherty. “I believe I have made librarianship a better place of justice, kindness, and respect. That is always at the core of what I believe in, and I have helped a lot of people connect with their history and find libraries as a career—that alone makes me proud.” z

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“It’s easy to share with someone who has experienced similar things to you, but hard when the person you’re talking to isn’t clued in.” s Fellonte Misher ’23MSW

A Different Kind of Outreach Fellonte Misher ’23MSW founds a non-profit devoted to expanding the reach of mental health resources by Alisa M. Libby Fellonte Misher ’23MSW was playing

professional football in Poland when COVID-19 cut the season short. Back home in Columbia Heights, Washington, DC he saw people struggling with the

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effects of gun violence and gentrification, who also lacked the resources to support their mental health. “It took me going overseas a few times to see things differently,” says Misher.

“In DC, the discussions around mental health and therapy are limited.” Like others, at first he wasn’t inclined to discuss his emotions. “At home, everyone fits into the same mold. Overseas, I got a better grasp of who I am. I was able to process and connect to traumatizing events in my life and accept what happened, and be better equipped to move forward and be a happier person,” he says. Reflecting on his experience, Misher recognizes the need for support and

counseling, especially among a community lacking access to counselors where discussions of mental health are taboo. “A lot of folks aren’t ready to hear about that stuff—their trauma is still at the forefront,” he says. Still, he knew he wanted to help. “When I thought of furthering my education, I thought of different ways I could reach the community. I researched social work, therapy, counseling,” says Misher. That led him to Simmons’ School of Social Work, where he

is getting his master’s degree online. “Simmons was willing to give me a chance, despite a low GPA in my undergraduate program,” he says. “I’ve grown so much since undergrad, and Simmons allowed me to show that by writing an essay and getting recommendations to show that growth.” During his college years, Misher was focused on football and says, “I trained my entire life to go to the NFL. I didn’t, so what do I do now?” He recalls teachers advising him to have a backup plan in case his football career didn’t pan out. “They would suggest I become a teacher or a lawyer—but the teachers and lawyers

Photograph / Courtesy Fellonte Misher ’23MS

I saw didn't resemble who I am as a Black man. The Black men that I saw become successful were athletes—that was what my view was confined to. It’s hard to envision anything else without representation,” he says. Similarly, it’s difficult to talk about mental health when there are no counselors who look like you. That’s an issue Misher hopes to remedy. “After I get my degree, I want to start my own clinical practice in my community. It’s easy to share with someone who has experienced similar things to you, but hard when the person you’re talking to isn’t clued in.

We need more mental health providers in our community, and I want to empower folks to serve each other,” he says. That is also the mission of In the Streets, the non-profit Misher co-founded in the midst of the pandemic. His co-founder, Sangeeta Prasad, received funding to start a support group for young Black men in the community who may not have access to counseling services. “In the Streets also offers unconventional therapy, like art therapy, group therapy, guided meditations, and yoga,” says Misher, who also emphasizes the importance of physical health to your overall well-being.

Misher says, “I meet up regularly with a group of young guys to work out and play basketball, and we have conversations. I help them figure out a game plan if they’ve lost their job or can’t make the rent. It’s not real case work, but it’s still providing support and guidance.” In the Streets is working with the government in DC to host a summer internship that would pay participants in the program, which would include physical and mental health education. The program will have separate groups for older (ages 19-24) and younger kids (ages 14-18). “That age range is strategic,” he says. “Our goal is to inter-

rupt generational trauma. We want the next generation of parents to be mindful of things that they’re passing on to their kids.” Well-recognized as a leader in his community, Misher knows everyone, and everyone knows him. He is careful not to violate that trust, and is strategic in how he approaches people for a chat. “There is a window in the day when you can talk to folks,” he says. “If I see you at noon and the people who influence you aren’t there, then I can talk to you about something that is a little taboo for you and you may be more accepting.” Misher has also planned basketball tournaments and Community Days. He says, “Food is super motivating—I do a lot of lunches and dinners. When everyone is having a good time, they are more open to what you have to say.”

He knows that representation, and the lack of it, makes an impact in any setting. “I’ve learned a lot in my three semesters at Simmons,” he says. “I’m the only Black person in the class. When we’re talking about oppression, I have a unique view of this subject and I’m super open to sharing those thoughts. I used to be really timid about speaking up, but there is a power in it. We’re all here to seek answers and feel validated about what we are going through.” Misher wants to help young people visualize ways to become a successful person and says, “I want them to see success as attainable. That’s why I have that group of guys I meet for workouts, and I’m still being myself, talking how I want to talk. Hopefully those guys will expand that to the younger group coming up.” z

“Our goal is to interrupt generational trauma. We want the next generation of parents to be mindful of things that they’re passing on to their kids.” s Fellonte Misher ’23MSW

Photograph / Courtesy Fellonte Misher ’23MS

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Demystifying Hoarding Eileen Dacey ’17MSW sheds light and compassion on an often misunderstood mental health condition by Anna Beasley

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You’re familiar with the phenomenon—

whether in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic or even a large winter storm or a gas shortage— when faced with an uncertain situation, we often feel a need to “stock up” on various provisions in response to the uncertainty. Although this behavior might seem normal, PhD candidate Eileen Dacey ’17MSW iden-

tifies it as a form of hoarding disorder. “It’s all based out of fear: fear that things are going to run out, even if it’s not a rational thought. That’s one of the bases of hoarding disorder— folks will want to hold on to or acquire more things, typically out of irrational thoughts.” The pandemic shed light on the fact that hoarding disorder is very prevalent within

our society. In fact, it’s the most common mental health issue that Americans are facing. However, there aren’t many resources for this illness. “Hoarding is a much bigger mental health issue than our country acknowledges,” says Dacey. “When you think of common mental health issues, you might think of depression or anxiety, or something that seems a bit more benign as opposed to hoarding, which seems quite devious.” Dacey was inspired to research hoarding disorder while doing case management in an elder services agency. During this time, she came across many hoarding and extreme cluttering cases but noticed that several vendors of inhome services didn’t want to enter these homes due to their condition. While Dacey sought supervision on how to proceed with these cases, the advice she received from managers didn’t sit well with her. The strategy centered around forcibly removing items from the home, with the idea that the hoarding behavior would magically disappear.

Photograph / Courtesy Eileen Dacey ’17MSW

“In my limited experience on the subject matter, I knew this wasn’t the right answer,” remembers Dacey. “I ended up attending a conference at the North Shore Center for Hoarding and Cluttering (NSCHC) affiliated with North Shore Elder Services (NSES). The first annual conference provided a brief overview of hoarding disorder and how to engage with individuals that are silently struggling. It produces a great deal of shame and embarrassment for them, and that’s when it clicked for me—it’s a mental health issue.” At this time, Dacey was approaching her first semester in the MSW program at Simmons. Although NSES didn’t have a contract in place with Simmons at the time, Dacey worked with her field advisor and made it her first-year placement because she wanted to know more. Not only did Dacey learn more about hoarding, but she also expanded on it. As an intern, she noticed that the component of animal hoarding was overlooked. Upon graduating from Simmons, she became

the clinical director at NSCHC and made it her mission to become even more informed on animal hoarding. Now working with the New England Center for OCD and Anxiety (NECOA), Dacey is one of the few social workers in Massachusetts that offers clinical support for animal hoarding. In addition to supporting those struggling with this disorder, she also provides support to animal welfare workers, such as law enforcement and veterinarians. Dacey describes some of the conditions they encounter as “traumatizing.” Animal hoarding falls under the animal cruelty category—it’s a federal offense, and it can be distressing for all parties involved. Dacey provides psychological first aid for the responders to reduce the impacts of burnout and compassion fatigue. “What I love about my position is that I have the flexibility and independence to develop a program that meets the community’s needs in a variety of ways,” says Dacey. “The services we provide at the clinic are what we

“ Hoarding is a much bigger mental health issue than our country acknowledges. When you think of common mental health issues, you might think of depression or anxiety, or something that seems a bit more benign as opposed to hoarding, which seems quite devious.” s Eileen Dacey ’17MSW

consider micro-level interactions. But I can also work in macro practice, and I’ve gotten quite involved in policy and legislative development regarding hoarding. This started with the pursuit of Hoarding Disorder Awareness Week—let’s bring ourselves together to do something.” The creation of Hoarding Disorder Awareness Week ensures that Massachusetts recognizes the pervasiveness of hoarding disorder. With this proclamation in place, Dacey hopes to see more resources and funding. Ultimately she hopes to alter the way our society views hoarding disorder and “normalize the language—the more we normalize it, the more we’ll see self-referrals.”

Dacey’s advocacy work extends beyond the residents of Massachusetts. Before starting Simmons University’s PhD in Social Work program, Rockridge Press approached Dacey to author a book on hoarding. At that time, many professional organizing books were available, like Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, and a few books that focused on the emotional underpinnings of hoarding—but literature combining these two subjects didn’t exist. To address this gap, Dacey authored Reclaim Your Life From Hoarding: Practical Strategies for Decluttering Your Home, Organizing Your Space, and Freeing Yourself. "My inspiration was to create something different from what’s available on

the market and have a book that also addresses multiple animal ownership,” explains Dacey. “This book is a self-help book for folks who identify as having some form of a hoarding or cluttering problem, as well as those who realize that they have a propensity of acquiring more stray animals. What can I do about it? Is it problematic? And so they start to question it themselves.” Ultimately, Dacey wants those with hoarding disorder to recognize that recovery is possible. She finds it most rewarding when her clients begin to see changes and manage their behaviors—it’s what keeps her going. “Some providers find that this disorder is incredibly hard to treat, that recovery is limited, and that folks might not be able to manage on their own,” says Dacey. “I don’t believe that. I know that if we work on implementing the right tools, the right skills, the right strategies, and we’ve done a lot of that emotional work, that the person can maintain on their own and work towards lifelong recovery.” z

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She's the Real Deal Julia Rodgers ’09 Makes a Deal on ABC's Shark Tank by Alisa M. Libby

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Julia Rodgers ’09 comes from a family of lawyers.

A marketing major and part of the pre-law society at Simmons, she was interested in the business aspect of law. “I loved the Marketing program at Simmons because it taught me skills that were transferable to the legal field,” she says.

During law school, Rodgers gained experience by working full-time as a paralegal at large firms, but found that she didn’t love representing large corporations. At Mavrides Law Boston, she observed the work of divorce attorneys, guiding clients through a difficult time in their

lives. “It’s very oneon-one,” says Rodgers, “walking them through the process from beginning to end. I liked that personal interaction; my favorite part of my job is talking to people and feeling like I am making a big difference in their lives.” As an attorney at Mavrides, she spoke to

Photograph / Courtesy Julia Rodgers ’09

“ Millenials are often children of divorce—the first generation to experience that on a large scale— so there is an emotional piece to this for them.” s Julia Rodgers ’09

hundreds of potential prenup clients and says, “I always enjoyed talking through the details of a prenup with clients to better understand their values and why this document was important to them.” Over the years, she saw a shift in engaged couples looking for a more collaborative process. “Many potential clients would ask me why they had to each hire an attorney to draft a prenup, when both parties agreed on the terms,” she says. Rodgers also has seen an increased interest and acceptance of prenups, noting, “Millenials are often children of divorce— the first generation to experience that on a large scale—so there is an emotional piece to this for them. Younger generations are getting married later in life, with more assets and more student debt. Millenials get prenups because they are realistic about marriage, and

Photograph / Courtesy Julia Rodgers ’09

women of that generation tend to be more independent, career-focused, and financially savvy than ever before.” Those insights inspired Rodgers to start HelloPrenup, an online platform that automates the process. “Ultimately, couples are preparing to spend their lives together and so this should be a document they work on together,” says Rodgers. “HelloPrenup offers couples a fast and affordable way to create a prenup, together. It’s also a safe online space full of valuable information that is easily digestible.” Rodgers is especially eager to protect women, who want to balance their financial goals and career aspirations with motherhood. She says, “Taking time off for child-rearing can impact their earning capacity, which funnels into the wealth gap between men and women. Prenups allow women to contract with their

spouse in a way that would protect them significantly more than the law would, allocating funds to make up for lost earning power.” In March 2021, Rodgers teamed up with business partner Sarabeth Jaffe to pitch their startup. They were selected to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank, which aired in November, 2021. After collaborating for months via Zoom, they met in person the night before Shark Tank was filmed. “The taping goes quickly, and you don’t get a second take,” she recalls. “We were in the room for about 60-90 minutes, which was edited to only eight minutes of footage! I talked a lot about how HelloPrenup can offset the wealth gap—that

part didn’t air, but the Sharks really responded to it.” Their pitch resulted in a handshake deal with Canadian businessman and Boston resident Kevin O’Leary (referred to as “Mr. Wonderful” on the show) and Nirav Tolia, co-founder of Nextdoor; the deal was finalized this year. “They are both incredible business people, with innovative ideas on how to scale HelloPrenup,” Rodgers says of her investors. “They agree that this is a great product for Millenials, and has widespread appeal. So far we’ve really enjoyed working with them.” Looking back, Rodgers can see how her growth as a lawyer and a business woman started at Simmons.

“Simmons gives its students a headstart in growing into strong, confident women at a pivotal point in their lives,” she says. In spite of common misconceptions, she sees an all-women’s education as a boon for women entering male-dominated fields. “Simmons helped me figure out how I wanted to operate in the business world and in the start-up world,” she says. “I learned how to command a room because I have the confidence that Simmons instilled in me. When I talk about Simmons, it comes from such a deep place of gratitude. If I had gone to another college, I would not be the person I am today.” z

Simmons / Spring 2022 31


A Penny for Her Vision Christina Thompson Shutt ’10MS, ’11MA, creates modern connections with Lincoln by Alisa M. Libby

Christina Thompson Shutt ’10MS, ’11MA, has

been eager to create positive change since joining the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois as Exective Director in March 2021. “My role is to lead and provide vision for the Library and Museum,” says Shutt. “As an organization, our mission is to understand Lincoln and his relevance for the modern era.” Over the past year, Shutt has been serving this mission by building aware-

32 Simmons / Spring 2022

ness and visibility in the community. “I’ve been meeting with local folks to build trust and strengthen relationships within central Illinois and throughout the state,” she says. “We are currently planning to remodel the children’s exhibit, as the existing space isn’t meeting the goals we want to accomplish. We want to engage kids and families around the theme of citizenship.” While planning is in the early stages, Shutt is taking note of what visitors enjoy doing

at the museum, and is looking forward to getting feedback on her plans. “We have an incredible programming committee, and we’re looking to develop diverse, engaging programs,” she says. “We have a beautiful park space outside, and we want to leverage that park and our role as the anchor of the Springfield community.” Shutt’s enthusiasm for her work is palpable. “It’s so rewarding to meet all of the people who love Lincoln and Illinois history. I’ve worked around libraries and museums my entire career, and it’s always amazing to see how passionate people are,” she says. Recently, on a walk through the museum, volunteers introduced her to a visiting high school student. “He was visiting all of the Lincoln sites in Springfield as his senior trip, and he had made a whole artistic piece out of Lincoln memorabilia. It’s wonderful to talk about a president who is still so well-loved, regardless of politics and things that tend to divide us as Americans,” Shutt says. Having begun her leadership of the institution in the later stages of a pandemic,

Shutt was aware of the challenges the Library and Museum was facing. “We are in a position to lead the state in the arts community, as one of the first tourism and cultural attractions to re-open [since the pandemic began] in Illinois,” she says. “What does it look like to open, to have a hybrid workplace, to welcome visitors back on site? We’ve connected with colleagues in the museum field, sharing how we provide a safe environment for our visitors and how we work remotely with researchers. We hope it will encourage other institutions to do the same.” As for current programming, Shutt’s favorite exhibit has been a part of the museum for the past 16 years. “The Ghosts of the Library Holavision experience is a ghostly

historian talking about why we preserve historical materials. As an archives student, it’s pretty cool,” she says. “As a director I get to see behind the scenes, and I can appreciate the technology and work and training that makes it all possible. The actors do an intensive training for two to three months, and some of our actors have been here since the beginning. It’s an aspect of the museum that people still love.” Looking back at her time at Simmons, Shutt appreciates the opportunities to build real-world skills afforded to her at Simmons. Recently, she was preparing to give a guest lecture on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement to students at the University of Illinois Springfield, and says, “It was research I did for my master’s thesis at Simmons!” z

“ It’s so rewarding to meet all of the people who love Lincoln and Illinois history. I’ve worked around libraries and museums my entire career, and it’s always amazing to see how passionate people are.” s Christina Thompson Shutt ’10MS, ’11MA

Photograph / Courtesy Christina Thompson Shutt ’10MS, ’11MA

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Simmons / Spring 2022 iii

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