The MSU Alumni Association’s Spartan Women series is changing lives across the country Starting this past May, the Michigan State University Alumni Association (MSUAA) took its Spartan Women mentorship series on the road once more. Extending a panel of experts, that guided a live seminar, to Denver, Colo., the organization flexed its ability and promise to strengthen women across the country through mentorship and leadership programming.
Since its inception in 2014, Spartan Women has appeared 10 times in six different states. Thus far, the event has not only made multiple appearances in Chicago and East Lansing, but it has also touched down in Detroit, Washington, D.C., New York and Indianapolis. Each event uses unique topics which ultimately focus on the same goal: turning the tables on traditional leadership programs, which typically lean on men, by placing successful and insightful women in front of female audiences.
The MSUAA made the decision to take their Spartan Women programs off-campus to engage with alumni working in a high-profile career outside of East Lansing, people that may not otherwise have much interaction with the university following their graduation. The series has featured women working in a number of industries, including television and film. During the Producers Series, event speakers included alumnae that have been producers for well-known shows like “CBS News”, “The Dr. Oz Show”, “What Not to Wear”, “House Hunters International” and “Chopped”. Another iteration of the event has focused on entrepreneurs.
On May 9, MSUAA hosted Spartan Women/The Entrepreneurial Mindset at Halcyon, an area hotel, with the help of notable Denver-based Spartan entrepreneurs, bringing an evening of meaningful and interactive conversation to the Mile-High City. The evening’s events switched up the organization’s typical formula and was the inaugural undertaking of its new live discussion format.
On hand to guide conversation and act as expert resources to attendees were some of MSU’s brightest alumnae, whom now associate themselves with Colorado University, including: Ann Bennett, CPA, president and founder of KBA & Associates; Ellen Bruss, creative director of Ellen Bruss Design; Julie Aigner-Clark, creator of Baby Einstein, WeeSchool, and The Safe Side; Rachel T.A. Croson, dean of the MSU College of Social Science; Nancy DiBiaggio, global property specialist of Absolute Aspen Realty; Carrie Rezabek Dorr, founder and chief barre officer of Pure Barre and founder and chairwoman of Soul Day Foundation; Nancy Haley, painter and owner at Nancy Haley Fine Art, and founder of Tehama; Anne McCarthy, founder and president of Westmeath Global Communications; and Molly McCoy, founder and chairwoman of hrQ and founder of Flower Bombers.
During the Denver event, the typical PowerPoint-based presentation format was altered for the very first time. To provide a more meaningful experience, attendees had the opportunity to participate in one-on-one discussions and receive mentorship directly from the speakers. Additionally, each speaker was interviewed in front of a live audience, often by a panel or a fellow alumna and participated in a Spartan-led roundtable discussion.
These invaluable opportunities to receive career-altering perspectives from top alumni are driving success, encouragement, insight and inspiration directly into the lives of young professionals. Susan Packard, an MSU alumna and co-founder of HGTV, believes that these events hosted by the MSUAA are truly changing lives.
“I have seen firsthand the impact MSU Alumni Association programming has had on their participants,” said Packard. “People have bubbled with new ideas, and strangers have connected, creating new networks and friends. It’s a wonderful MSU offering.”
Most careers involve some level of entrepreneurial behavior, and MSUAA is working with women to spark a narrative surrounding topics such as innovation, risk-taking, acting on opportunity, establishing values and pushing through failure and obstacles. Through direct interactions with young women, the organization aims to foster events that present valuable, meaningful and interactive opportunities to emerging female workers, students and more.