5 ways this Villanova program helped participants take leadership to the next level in their communities and careers
By Kristen Ziegler
Combining the innovation and expertise of Villanova’s College of Professional Studies and the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership, a new Women’s Leadership Development certificate has, in its first year, already forged new pathways to leadership for women.
“This certificate program aligns centrally with our mission to inspire professional excellence and lifelong learning through programs that are relevant for all stages of an individual's life and career,” says Christine Palus, PhD, dean of the College of Professional Studies.
While many glass ceilings have been shattered in recent years, challenges to women’s leadership remain, especially during the pandemic. The percentage of women in titled leadership roles stands at 20 percent, and women still earn 84 percent of what men are paid for similar roles.
While there isn’t one clear solution to these inequities, Villanova’s new certificate program focuses on giving women the tools and experiences they need to advance. “Women have been leading since the beginning of time,” says Teresa M. Boyer, EdD, ’95 CLAS, founding director of the McNulty Institute and assistant vice provost for Centers and Institutes. “It’s not just about building the individual skills of women in the program. It is also about understanding the systems we exist in and moving toward social change within them.”
The three-month program combines self-paced online work with three in-person residencies. The program culminates with students presenting a leadership plan, refined through critical feedback from a small peer coaching group.
This rigorous curriculum prompted job changes, promotions and leadership growth for the 12 inaugural participants. Members of the initial cohort attest to the ways the program impacted them:
DEVELOPING A PERSONALIZED LEADERSHIP APPROACH
“The program was the catalyst I needed to pause and reflect on my professional path, to see how I could be more intentional about not only the big career choices I make but also the small but critical choices that shape the leader I want to be.”
Meghan Hopkins ’07 CLAS, director of Corporate Communications, Quest Diagnostics
SKILLS BUILDING THROUGH ONLINE COMPONENTS
“I was challenged to think differently and more critically about the role women have in leadership. I was able to focus on my own leadership skills and assess where I needed to grow and develop.”
Elizabeth DeMott, director of Strategic Projects, Archdiocese of Newark
EMBRACING CHANGE AGENCY
“As a leader and Black woman, it is necessary to dismantle the stereotypical views of not just Black women but all women in the workplace by focusing on making a greater impact within my organization, community, church and personal life. The certificate program inspired me to create a blueprint, as a guide, to achieve my aspirations.”
Joyce Harden ’21 CLAS, administrative assistant, Department of Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Villanova University
PEER COACHING NOW AND INTO THE FUTURE
“An unexpected gift from this program is the deep connection that I now have with my peer coaching group. We will continue to motivate, empower and hold each other accountable as we move forward in our professional lives.”
Kathleen Cullinan ’89 VSB, P ’17, controller, Microe Enterprises, Inc.
EXPANDED THINKING ABOUT PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
“It changed the trajectory of my professional and personal being. Because of the program, I quit my job as an assistant team leader for a real estate company, and negotiated for a larger role overseeing seven offices and our agent services.”
Scarlett Stout, director of Agent Experience for Delaware and Maryland, Keller Williams Realty, Inc.