President Paula Johnson Talks to Wellesley Underground about the Many Ways Wellesley Graduates Make a Difference

June 13, 2017
President Paula Johnson Talks to Wellesley Underground about the Many Ways Wellesley Graduates Make a Difference

“I see our alumnae out there in their communities and in the world, making the difference that matters to them most—often something personal and meaningful,” President Paula Johnson said in an interview with the website Wellesley Underground, published Monday, June 12. Johnson was speaking about the College’s new #ThisIsLeadership digital campaign, which aims to “honor all forms of leadership, including the kind of pragmatic, imaginative, persistent work that is helping us pave the way for all women to succeed,” according to an email she sent to alumnae in May announcing the campaign’s launch.

Alumnae are encouraged to nominate individuals who will be featured on the microsite that supports the College’s comprehensive campaign. These nominations will help the College recognize the “compassionate and highly effective women who are using their talents and their voices wherever they are most needed,” Johnson said in the email.

Wellesley Underground (WU), founded in 2009, is an independent web publication written by and for Wellesley alumnae and the Wellesley community. WU is collaborating with the College on #ThisIsLeadership by helping to spread the word about featured alumnae.

In her interview, Johnson praised WU’s Wellesley Alum of the Month series, which “does such a great job of illuminating our diverse, engaged, and extraordinary alumnae,” she said. “[I]n doing all the work to produce this series, you are practicing the very leadership that this new campaign seeks to recognize.” The College has drawn from the alumnae featured in WU’s series to create the College’s digital campaign, another example of how WU and the College are collaborating.

When #ThisIsLeadership launched, WU cheered the campaign, explaining that the WU site was, in fact, created “to see the College and the Wellesley alumnae community challenge the notion that we all need to fit under a certain mode of success to be making a difference.” WU encouraged its readers to nominate alumnae, saying “you will be helping the overall Wellesley community redefine and expand the definition of what it means to be a leader.”

The first group of alumnae to be featured in the campaign includes Fazeelat Aslam ’07, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist who travels the globe helping to tell the stories of marginalized people; Nergis Mavalvala ’90, who was on the team of pathbreaking scientists who detected particular kinds of gravitational waves—and fulfilled the last prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity; and Marseille “Mars” Allen ’01, who spearheaded grassroots efforts to help the people of Flint, Mich., when lead contaminated their water. More will be added in the weeks and months ahead.

“I am glad that this partnership will be one of the ways we can deepen and broaden conversations about leadership at Wellesley,” Johnson said. “I think it’s important to share all the ways our alumnae choose to leave their mark.” She added that advancing women’s education and recognizing the importance of women’s impact in the world is “at the core of who we are and what we do.”

Johnson also spoke with WU about the various kinds of leadership alumnae practice as well as what being a leader means to her personally. Read the complete interview.