Wellesley’s Contemporary Women’s Leadership Program Inspires Young Women

August 15, 2018

Students from colleges and universities around the world spent five weeks this summer learning from the Wellesley community as they developed their leadership skills. Through challenging classes, self-reflective activities, and unique exposure to Wellesley faculty members, guest speakers, and alumnae, the participants in Wellesley’s Contemporary Women’s Leadership Program (CWL) found their own approaches to enhancing their personal leadership goals.

“The CWL program encourages our visiting students to develop their voices by mapping their own leadership journeys. By combining academic theory with real world examples and reflective activities, students gain practical skills they can use immediately,” said Nancy Coleman, associate provost and director of strategic growth initiatives at Wellesley. “It is so rewarding to see the students’ growth at the end of the program. There were so many examples of students applying what they learned, from networking skills to enhanced self confidence and more. Many comment on the sense of empowerment they feel during the program.”

During four weeks of classroom work and one week of experiential activity, CWL students learn about gender issues in the workplace and current leadership strategies, and they gain a critical perspective on their own futures. Participants examine leadership and gender from an intersectional vantage point across cultures and industries—from financial services to technology to entertainment—with guidance from Wellesley’s faculty members and alumnae. These practical, real-world insights provide the group of international undergraduates with a uniquely Wellesley experience.

Here are some scenes from the culmination of this year’s program:


Leslie Andrews ’82, director of the Nehoiden Golf Club, leads a golf lesson with undergraduate students in a summer program.

Leslie Andrews ’82, director of golf at the College’s Nehoiden Golf Club, LPGA professional, and author of Even Par: How Golf Helps Women Get the Upper Hand in Business, leads a golf lesson as part of the “Golf for Business” seminar. Andrews taught the fundamentals of golf and discussed how golf can help women succeed, whether as a Fortune 500 CEO, the director of the PTA, or a college professor. Nehoiden was recently named one of the “Finest Nines” in the country and is one of the oldest college golf courses in the United States.

A student looks at a sign on a wall that reads, "No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up."

A program participant reads words of inspiration during the seminar “Dress for Success.” Held at their Boston office by Kimberly Todd and Gail Errera of Dress for Success Boston, a nonprofit dedicated to offering long-lasting solutions to help women break the cycle of poverty, the seminar focused on leadership in the nonprofit world. Todd and Errera encouraged the students to explore interests that excite them and fuel their passion.

Leeza Gibbons stands at the front of a lecture hall speaking to summer program recipients.

The five-week program closed with a keynote address from Leeza Gibbons, the Emmy-winning former host of Entertainment Tonight. Gibbons described how she strategically used kindness and positivity to win the reality competition Celebrity Apprentice, navigate Hollywood, and become a New York Times best-selling author. She explained that kindness and optimism don’t make you a pushover, but rather can be used as competitive advantages in business.

A panel of four women speaks to a crowded classroom.

Students hear stories from women who lead in athletics, science, and law during the panel discussion “Women’s Leadership in Male-Dominated Fields,” moderated by Leslie Andrews ’82. Panelists included the Hon. Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, associate justice for Framingham District Court; Janet L. Krevolin ’84, professor of the practice in Tufts University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Bridget Belgiovine, director of athletics and chair of the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics at Wellesley. All successful leaders in their fields, each panelist discussed her own experience overcoming stereotypes and getting ahead in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Other summer programs offered at Wellesley include Summer Term, the Pre-College Immersive Program, and Exploratory Workshops.