ASU working to expand women’s leadership, recognition programs
Dr. Kathy Loyd told Talk Business and Politics the goal is to get as many women as possible to participate in the Collaborative.
“From the outstanding work of campus mentors like Dr. Patricia Johnston and our former business dean Dr. Kathy Loyd, we know there is a growing demand for opportunities for growth and networking for women in leadership in every area of our campus,” Shields said. “I’ve been fortunate to learn profound lessons from time on the Governor’s Commission on Women and working to create initiatives to support leadership forums. I am so proud to say that A-State will strive to be a place where a Women’s Leadership Collaborative is not only welcomed, but championed.”
The program will be an expansion of the “Step Up and Reach Back” mentoring program launched in 2017 in the Griffin College of Business, Loyd said. The initial goal of that program was to provide role-models and mentoring for female students to increase their confidence and to increase retention rates. There were more than 50 women who became mentors and more than 200 young women have been interns in the program, she said.
“It is my vision as well as other women involved with our WLC that we create a future filled with collaborative caring communities of women in Arkansas who work tirelessly to ensure that all girls and women are supported to achieve their potential and goals,” Loyd said. “By embracing Collaborative in our name, we are recognizing the inherited knowledge of the past and connecting it to the present and future. I can’t think of a better way to express what our ‘Step Up and Reach Back’ ethos means for our group.”
Members of the Collaborative will work with the Women’s Business Leadership Center and other on-campus groups like Women in Science, Women in Engineering and the soon to be launched Arkansas Delta Women’s Academy. It will serve as the hub of activity and coordinator of events across the campus to expand the “Step Up and Reach Back” into other groups.
“We want colleges or disciplines to establish their own mentoring groups that can work with the Collaborative,” Shields said. “The Collaborative will also start outreach programs such as summer camps, retreats and networking events.”
Women make up the majority of college students but still lag when it comes to being in leadership positions, Loyd said. This dynamic has to change.
“Women are the majority of students in college today, but for them to succeed, they need to see success. That is one very important thing that we have learned from the feedback of our students so far,” she said. “The mentoring and how much it meant to work with women and discuss career steps and learn more about their path is a true difference maker. The other piece that was surprising is that their self-esteem and confidence grew from helping others in the community in the ‘Reach Back’ component of the program.”
Hiring a director will be one of the goals for the Collaborative this year. The program will garner support from a number of sources, Loyd added.
“We’ve been fortunate to have support from Founders Circle members of the original Women’s Business Leadership Center. We have an anonymous gift in place to support the hiring of a director for the Collaborative, and our goal is to seek more grants and support to allow for further expansion,” she said. “We anticipate that we will learn a great deal from this cross-discipline approach that will enrich our efforts going forward. This is the pilot year that will kick off in the fall and we anticipate we will have many ‘lessons learned’ after a year of experiences that will expand and strengthen our future impact.”
Recognizing Remarkable Women is an awards program that begins this year for individuals who live and work in the greater Delta region of Arkansas. It will be part of the Collaborative’s efforts. The program was launched in April to solicit nominees for the following inaugural Remarkable Women.
Leaders in Service
Persons who champion their community through perseverance, confidence, integrity, generosity, innovation and vision. Those nominated for this honor may be an officer in a company, an established small business entrepreneur or a leader in a non-profit organization.
Women to Watch
With up to three individuals selected, nominees for this category are achieving great things in their community, business, government or the non-profit volunteer community.
Mentor of the Year
The only award restricted to current members of the WLC Founder’s Circle, Collaborative Champion or Junior Champion. The Mentor of the Year exhibits the nurturing spirit of the “Step Up, Reach Back” program within the Collaborative.