In collaboration with Lynn and President Fox, the PLEN Chapter at St. Lawrence University hosted a dinner and dessert party at the President’s home, with a fitting title of “Bringing Women Leaders Together.” The guest speaker for the event was St. Lawrence University alumna, Erica Silver Dahl ‘93 who serves as Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Vivint Solar.
During dinner with Erica, the women of the PLEN Chapter shared stories of their PLEN experience. The PLEN alumnae had a diverse range of majors as well as varying ranges of interest, specifically within policy of their chosen field. Each student spoke to the benefits of the seminar they had attended and how it influenced them. Overwhelmingly, the discussion centered around the PLEN seminars being an empowering experience, which was instrumental to all of our academic and pre-professional paths.
Dinner was followed by dessert with student leaders, who were representatives from clubs and sororities, and faculty members. President Fox introduced himself as a feminist and spoke about the importance of women leadership in the University’s history, mentioning Senator Susan Collins ‘75, a strong leader an admired classmate of his. In his welcoming speech, Fox acknowledged the importance of the professional development PLEN offers to the women of St. Lawrence.
Jessica LaMay ‘18 (President) and Maggie Kelly ‘18 (Vice President) spoke to the group about PLEN as an organization and the goals of the campus Chapter. In addition to promoting PLEN on campus, the Chapter hopes to encourage dialogue surrounding women in leadership and provide a platform for women leaders to collaborate at St. Lawrence University.
Lynn and Erica both spoke to the complex paths that can be taken throughout a career. Lynn said “don’t flunk your failure,” pointing out the importance of acknowledging failures and learning from them, alongside your successes. Erica also spoke to her experiences trying different paths and realizing they weren’t necessarily for her, both at her time at St. Lawrence and in her career. PLEN often refers to the complex and indirect route that can be taken to a job as a “career jungle gym.” Successful careers can be reached in many ways, and it is informative and reassuring to hear accomplished women talk about uncertainty, failure, confidence, and the diverse range of routes they took throughout their career.
The evening was a delightful success, as it showed the value of women leadership on our campus. The overall message of the event was one of women supporting women, a message the PLEN Chapter hopes to continue spreading on our campus.
Jessica LaMay and Maggie Kelly are the President and Vice President of PLEN Chapter at St. Lawrence, respectively, and alumnae of Women in STEM Policy & Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership.