Alumnae share stories during dinner

by Sasha Dudding | 11/17/11 11:00pm

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11.18.11.news.ProudDinner
by Sujin Lim and Sujin Lim / The Dartmouth

The Tuesday dinner marked the sixth "Proud to be a Woman" event, which was held in Alumni Hall and organized by Link Up and the Center for Women and Gender. The dinner featured Crawford, Women's National Basketball Association President Laurel Richie '81 and Indian Health Service Chief Medical Officer Susan Karol '79 as the three keynote speakers.

Women should continue to network with each other and "share whatever wisdom we've acquired," Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson said while introducing the keynote speakers. Crawford, chief executive officer of the California Black Women's Health Project, discussed the importance of retaining lifelong passions, speaking to her own experiences of incorporating her interest in education and the arts into her career.

"Don't let folks put you in a box," Crawford said.

Richie who joked about her lack of athletic experience, inciting laughter from the audience said women should not be afraid of following a set path to reach their ambitions.

"I realized halfway through my career, Oh my gosh, I'm a bit of a trailblazer too,'" she said.

Richie discussed her parents' experiences with segregation and her own experience often being the only woman or black person in a business meeting.

"You should own your DNA, whatever that is," she said.

Richie first interviewed with the WNBA after the female owners of the Seattle Storm were impressed by a speech she gave at an event hosted in her honor, and sent her resume and biographical information to the WNBA, Richie said.

"It was just the power of women supporting women," she said. "They saw something in me I probably didn't see in myself."

Richie, who served as the former senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Girl Scouts of the USA, assumed the WNBA presidency in May and now leads the organization's 132 players.

"Part of my work is to get this country comfortable with women who own their power and their competitiveness," she said. "They know that they are blazing a new trail."

Richie said this effort can be furthered by building relationships between women. From the podium, Richie announced her email address for audience members.

"There are all these studies that show that we as women haven't mastered the art of networking to the same degree as men, and I'd say let's change that," she said. "Let's get to know each other, let's push each other on."

Karol, who discussed her difficulties and successes as a member of one of Dartmouth's first co-ed classes, also encouraged women to strive to accomplish their aspirations and goals. As chief medical officer of the Indian Health Service, Karol oversees the care of two million people and a $4 billion budget, she said.

"As everybody walked in this evening, I wanted to tell you how beautiful you all looked," Karol said. "I'm so glad to be here today, to honor all of you and to show you that you can do it, because I never thought I could."

The speeches concluded with discussions held at the 15 tables of attendees with approximately 10 women at each, including one moderator over dinner catered by the Hanover Inn.

Levinson noted the positive atmosphere of Thursday's dinner, citing the event as an important time for women to connect with one another.

"I've met incredible women at these dinners and have sustained the connections to this day," Levinson said in her introductory remarks at the event.

Other attendees interviewed by The Dartmouth also expressed their positive experiences at past dinners. Nell Pierce '13, a discussion moderator at Thursday's event, recalled her table at her first "Proud to be a Woman Dinner" during her freshman year.

"It was the first time I felt I was in a noncompetitive environment among women at Dartmouth," she said. "The biggest takeaway was the table discussions."

The dinner had a wait list of 20 women, as all 150 tickets sold out, according to Levinson. Tickets cost $10 each, and financial aid to support the cost of tickets was available through the Center for Women and Gender.

"I think it's something women look forward to more and more," Lexi Campbell '13, an organizer of this term's dinner, said.