April 6, 2008

Council of Lafayette Women Conference Hits the Mark

By Carrie Pasternak ’08, Lesley Kline ’09, and Danielle Ward ’08

This weekend the Council of Lafayette Women held its biennial conference. Well over 100 alumni, staff, students, and visitors celebrated a weekend of “Broadening Horizons Deepening Understanding.”

One of the highlights for many was the keynote address Friday evening by Mary Stengel Austen ’86. The president and CEO of Tierney Communications, Austen spoke about leading one of the largest advertising and public relations firms in the Mid-Atlantic while raising her five children.

Selin Sinan Uz ’02 said that Austen’s speech was “very informative, very honest, and encouraging.”

Barbara Levy ’77 agreed: “Before most people heard Mary’s speech, they would not think it is possible to become a CEO of a company; however, Mary made it sound like anyone could do the same as her within their own field.”

Levy, a founding member of the Council of Lafayette Women, acknowledged that Austen’s credentials sound intimidating on paper, but said that her character shone through her speech. “[She] spoke from her heart,” she said. “She gave great advice and was very funny.”

Simmone Chaddan ’04 also remembered the keynote as a highlight of the conference, stating that Austen was “vibrant” and “down-to-earth.”

“She was so encouraging to the working woman and mother,” she said. “That’s why we come here, to be encouraged and to feel fulfilled when we leave.”

Chaddan tries to attend every conference. She said that the CLW is “specific to who I am [as a young alum].”

But for many, the highlight of the conference was seeing old friends.

“The best part was being able to reconnect with old friends and colleagues,” said Jennifer Cortner ’85. Cortner, who gave a speech called “Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur,” said that the conference was “overall fabulous.” The president of EFX Media, Cortner said she also enjoyed “seeing where people were in their careers” and especially enjoyed Austen’s keynote speech.

Jacquelyn Wilkins ’77 also said that she enjoyed the conference. “I’m having a great time,” she said. “It’s nice to reconnect with old friends.”

Wilkins, a Council member, said that she was “pleased” with the success of the various programs. Wilkins also served as a speaker during the conference, participating in a discussion on “Sustainable Communities�Sustainable Environments�Sustainable Lives.” President of the Boston chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar and board member of, Wilkins said she was “excited to be involved as well as participate.”

Lori Janelle Chen ’99 was excited to be at her first CLW conference. “Whenever we come to campus there is a ton of energy,” she said. The president of her class, she said that “it is very inspiring to see what my fellow alumni have accomplished.”

“The conference is a great way to network with our peers and it is great for reconnecting with the college,” Chen added.

Alma Scott-Buczak ’74, who has attended each CLW conference, noticed that this conference had a “very different” feel from those in the past.

“[It’s] very different to see the mantle change from the classes of the ’70s to the classes of the ’80s,” she said. “It bodes well for future classes.”

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