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While strides have been made, Olivet College recognizes that women still face considerable social, workforce, economic and political challenges of disparity and inequity. Olivet College has a longstanding history of empowering young women that began nearly 175 years ago when its founders started admitting women and persons of color on a coequal basis as men.

Acknowledging that more work needs to be done, Olivet College formed the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI). Its mission is to cultivate confident women leaders who embrace their authenticity in order to facilitate and lead positive change. In October 2017, WLI kicked off a new, specialized year-long women’s leadership development program, with 39 students enrolled the inaugural year. The WLI program is in collaboration with ATHENA International, a well-recognized successful women’s leadership organization. WLI will also collaborate with ATHENA International on the development of high school and middle school girls’ leadership camps.

“With the addition of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Olivet College is building a culture of women leaders on campus,” said Traci Corey, presidential spouse and director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Olivet College. “This program serves as a connection point for our incoming freshmen, sophomores and transfer women students to engage with each other on campus. Through this multi-year program, our hope is for these young women to become mentors that can take what they’ve learned and apply it in the relationships they have with each other and be able to teach it to the next generation of high school and middle school girls. The knowledge these women gain will go with them into their careers and life.”

The WLI was developed as a result of a hugely successful inaugural Cultivating Women Leaders (CWL) event held on March 3, 2017, which garnered more than 250 attendees. In fact, 30 percent of the CWL prospective student attendees began their college career at Olivet College in the fall of 2017. To stay true to its rich heritage, Olivet College plans to continue to grow its women’s enrollment. Over the next five years, the WLI will play a major role in increasing the total women’s enrollment to 50 percent of the overall student body.

Messaging Critical in Successful Development

Research shows that exposure to positive messages early and often about leadership, and understanding how to make informed decisions about their future as potential leaders is critical to the success of young girls. The WLI will provide a unique fully-immersive relationship-based leadership experience that will enable young women to gain the insight, self-awareness and effective communication skills necessary to become the visionary leaders of tomorrow, while mentors provide guidance and investments in resources and time that are necessary to help these students achieve their goals. These mentors are successful women leaders from around the state who have careers in diverse industries.

Founder of ATHENA International to Speak

On Friday, March 2, 2018, Olivet College will host its second annual Cultivating Women Leaders. This year’s theme is “Pioneering the Future.” The purpose of CWL is to equip current and prospective female students of Olivet College with the necessary tools and resources needed to establish them as leaders for today and the future.

The keynote speaker will be Martha Mayhood Mertz, founder of ATHENA International and author of “Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership.” In addition, an alumnae panel discussion will include Yvonne Caamal Canul ’73, superintendent of the Lansing School District; Genise Shelton ’99, founder of Our Children’s Keeper Foundation and cast member of BRAVO’s “Married to Medicine”; Mona Hinamanu ’17, client service specialist, RELO Direct, Inc.; and Cassie McDonald Ross ’13, doctor of physical therapy, Agility Physical Therapy & Sports Performance. The panel discussion will be moderated by WLI Advisory Council member Sheri Jones, news anchor, WLNS TV 6 Lansing. The day-long event will also include a networking session led by the WLI Advisory Council, comprised of some of Michigan’s finest women leaders, including many successful OC alumnae. Registration for CWL will open after the New Year.

Learn more about WLI and CWL by contacting Traci Corey at wli@olivetcollege.edu. Young women exploring college options are encouraged to see for themselves the many leadership opportunities at Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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