Zipcar Founder Robin Chase '80 Helps Launch Wellesley Leadership Initiative

March 29, 2012

The Wellesley College mission includes instilling the qualities essential to leadership in its students. The Wellesley stamp can be seen in esteemed alumnae leaders from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69 to broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer ’67 to Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers ‘81. While CEOs and government officials may come immediately to mind, the college has also produced countless other kinds of leaders: comedians, thought leaders, mountain climbers...who have all been pioneers in their respective fields.

“One of our signatures at Wellesley is that we are a school that prepares women for leadership,” Wellesley Dean of Students Debra DeMeis said. “Students choose to come here because of our reputation, and it's important for us to take time to reflect on what leadership means at Wellesley." 

This topic will be explored as part of The Wellesley Blueprint for Leadership, a new initiative aimed at exploring what qualities define Wellesley’s brand of leadership. Dean DeMeis explained, “Part of the task will be to identify what leadership qualities are fostered by a Wellesley education—Integrity? Innovation? Compassion? Our hope is that students will begin to define what leadership means for themselves.”

To kick off the program, two Wellesley alumnae with distinct leadership roles will visit campus. Transportation innovator Robin Chase ’80, the cofounder and former CEO of Zipcar and GoLoco, will speak Tuesday, April 3, at 7:00 pm in Tishman Commons. By harnessing the power of social media and easy payment systems, Chase has been able to revolutionize how we think about car travel and car-sharing.

Scholar Jean Kilbourne ’64 will share her perspective on leadership following a screening of the documentary Miss Representation on Tuesday, April 10, at 7:00 pm in Collins Cinema. The documentary, in which Kilbourne served as a featured interviewee, confronts how the media’s misrepresentation of women has led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. The event is co-presented by the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and Wellesley College's Women's and Gender Studies Program, where Kilbourne is a senior scholar.

On April 11, Wellesley will host workshops to draft  the Wellesley Blueprint for Leadership. The workshops will be held in four locations at two times: from 12:30 – 2:00 pm in Sage Lounge (Science Center) and the Knapp Atrium; and from 6:30 – 8:00 pm in the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center (room 104) and the McAfee dining room. Students, faculty, and staff will gather for conversations about what, for them, defines leadership as it relates to the student experience at Wellesley—and begin to put their thoughts to paper.

Ellie Perkins ’65, director of Fellowship and Pre-Professional Programs at Wellesley, hopes that the initiative will show students that you don’t have to be the campus president to be a doer and a change agent.