Alumnae
Reunion

Alumnae Panelists Lead Insightful Discussions

By Melissia Mason
As a part of the programming for 2022 Reunion, alumnae experts presented panel discussions on two topics: Women & Wellness and Women in Philanthropy. Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to learn from their fellow Emma alums on these topics that get to the core of our wellness and our values.

Women & Wellness Alumnae Panel

Dean of Students Shelley Maher moderated an insightful discussion of health and wellness during a morning panel discussion featuring Dr. Zoe McKee ’97, Shura Gat ‘87, and Jenn Ty ’77 (see below for bios of our panelists).


Considering the recent challenges precipitated by a global pandemic, panelists shared their perspectives on the greatest issues we are facing in this moment with regard to wellness. From systems that perpetuate inequity and limit access, to the long-term impact of stress, anxiety, and trauma, the panelists shared ways in which they strive to meet the challenges of the day.

Jenn issued a challenge to the group to say—and mean—that they are the most important person in the world. “Say it with me,” she urged. “I am the most important person in the world.” The panelists further explained the ways in which taking care of one’s own wellbeing must come first before doing anything else, whether that’s caring for others or making a mark on the world around you in other ways.

In offering the group some practical advice to use at home, Shura demonstrated three techniques intended to help with hormonal imbalances, anxiety, and myriad signs of irritation in the vagus nerve. Shura also noted that she finds hope in the fact that “conversations about self care are happening all over the place… with that comes much greater recognition of the complementary modalities that exist… [wellness] is not a one-size-fits-all solution.”


Zoe encouraged the group to consider taking advantage of innovations in how health services can be consumed. “There is more flexibility of healthcare delivery systems,” she shared, noting the increase in availability of telehealth. This has led to a broader approach to issues like sexual health, menopause, and mental health support. “These issues may take longer [to address] than a 15 minute appointment that you’re allotted,” she notes, and telehealth can provide greater access to a variety of professionals in medicine, nutrition, counseling, and exercise support.

Throughout the question and answer time, it was clear that repercussions from the COVID pandemic are in the forefront of minds, not just because of the physical implications of the illness, but also from the resulting mental health challenges. The panelists shared their wisdom and insight on these topics, encouraging the use of many different practices that help you personally feel better. 


Shura Gat ‘87
Shura (she/her) is currently the Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Women’s Resource Center at Cornell University. In this role, she works closely with undergraduate students on many issues relating to gender justice as well as serves as a Crisis Manager.  Shura also has a complementary healing practice where she balances clients’ energies both remotely and in-person, with the aim of increasing their vitality and self-awareness, helping them to better navigate life’s ups and downs. Connect with Shura at getshura.com.

Dr. Zoe McKee ‘97
Zoe McKee, MD, FACOG is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist currently working at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. She is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and completed her residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Her clinical interests include general obstetrics, minimally-invasive gynecologic surgery, and family planning. 

Jenn Ty ‘77
Jenn Ty is a Medical Intuitive and the Founder/Owner of Flow Massage Therapy, an Integrative Wellness Practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Foundation of her practice is in the belief that our bodies speak and provide clues to create optimum wellness in our lives. When we focus a conscious awareness, to our bodies’ needs, we are able to preventatively address our medical challenges. This manner is critical in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Flow Massage Therapy integrates both Western/Alternative therapies to bring wellness and healing to the body. Connect with Jenn at flowmassagetherapyllc.com.


 

 

Women in Philanthropy Alumnae Panel

On the final morning of Reunion, Director of Gift Planning Jack Sise moderated a panel discussion on Women in Philanthropy featuring Linda Gill Anderson ’77, Jenny Plane ‘82, and Sarah Goodwin Soule ’77 (see below for bios of our panelists). Framing the greater picture of this particular time in our history, Jack pointed out that the next 25 years will constitute the greatest transfer of wealth from one generation to the next in US history, to the tune of $68 trillion. 


Starting with the early years of their exposure to philanthropy, the panelists shared how their families were influential in planting a seed of giving and service. “They modeled it, spoke about it, said this was their expectation for us,” Linda shared. “Weave giving into the fabric of your life by partnering with organizations that you care about, that align with your values.”

In determining what organizations to support, Jenny shared that she uses three criteria in making these decisions: values, personal connection, and research through services like Charity Navigator. Echoing Linda’s previous thoughts, the first criteria centers around what you value. “How many opportunities do we have in a day to make a concrete expression of our values,” Jenny posed. “It’s such an act of joy… such an expression of gratitude to share with people who are doing great things in the world.”

The second criteria Jenny shared was personal connection. This became a theme throughout the remainder of the discussion. Sarah shared an anecdote of a friend asking her to be “Mrs. Claus” for a children’s event. “It connected me to this wonderful organization,” she shared. “I got so engaged, and now my checkbook is connected as well. It was the personal outreach that made that connection for me.” 

Likewise, it was a personal touch from Linda that stirred Sarah to connect with the Infinite Horizon campaign. “Having someone you know and trust who cares about an organization makes you want to do something for that place,” Sarah emphasized. “If it’s somebody that I value who says, ‘This place is important to me and has made a difference in my life’—wow, I’ll pay attention.”

Linda followed up with reinforcing the importance of looking at a charity’s numbers—read their 990s, ask questions, look at their governance—to determine whether you want to contribute to the organization.

Noting that philanthropy is about more than giving money, the panelists explored the giving of time and talents to organizations they care about. Often, giving one's time is the first ask. “Ask your colleagues, your friends, your classmates to serve with you on something—it can be small and lead to something bigger,” Linda shares. “They become EMbassadors for Emma, ambassadors for whatever organization you care about. Asking them to have an experience with you opens the heart… When you have that deep connection, it becomes more meaningful.”

In the discussion with the audience, various ways that a person can give were highlighted (contact Director of Gift Planning Jack Sise for more on ways of giving). Those gathered expressed a desire to challenge assumptions about when to get started with philanthropy and how much you have to give. The sentiment was: you can do more than you think, even if you’re not someone who has a lot of cash flow.

Returning to the idea of personal connections, many attendees wished to be “deputized” to seek out connections with those in their circle of influence in order to better reconnect more people with Emma Willard School.




Linda Gill Anderson ’77
Linda Gill Anderson ’77 is the director of membership for the American Public Transportation Association and serves on the Board and Governance Committee of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the only national non-profit focused solely on the health of black women and girls. She has served on numerous boards and participates in several professional associations. Linda retired from a 20+ year award-winning media career including Conde Nast, Lotus, BET Networks and Harlequin that included magazines, books, cable TV and 13 films. She was deemed an “intrapreneur” by Black Enterprise Magazine for launching powerful brands and managing the operations inside some of the most iconic media companies of our time. And USA Today applauded her brand marketing vision for a campaign in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Linda is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and graduate of Dartmouth College, with executive training at Stanford University and Babson College. She is a strong supporter of young women’s leadership programs through philanthropy and civic engagement. She is co-founder of Candid Conversations, a local community group of professional women with a mission to encourage growth of diversity, equity and inclusion within our families, organizations, and workplace. Raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, Linda resides in Silver Spring with her family.

Jenny Plane ‘82
Jenny’s life and work have always centered on teaching, learning, and caregiving; she says her career is best represented by a patchwork crazy quilt. She has taught high school French and elementary school art. Jenny has sold college textbooks and ghostwritten a textbook for home health aides. She has substituted and assisted in classrooms at all age levels. As a volunteer, she has coordinated early literacy programs, parent-led art classes, and fundraising efforts. Jenny chose to stay home while her two sons, now aged 26 and 27, were in elementary and middle school. She currently provides assistance to her elderly mother, who has lost her sight. Together they organize and run a twice-weekly chair yoga class at the community where her mother resides. At Emma, Jenny was editor of The Clock and sang in the Choir and Inner Choir with the beloved Mr. Russell Locke.

Sarah Goodwin Soule ’77
Sarah Goodwin Soule ’77 has spent her entire professional career in the field of college advising.  She currently serves as the Post-Secondary Counselor at Middlebury UHS working with students as they consider their journeys after high school. She is an avid traveler, enjoys outdoor activities, reading and has served on the board of directors of several non profits.  She resides in Shelburne, Vermont.
    • Alums from the Class of 1977 gather for a photo following the Women in Philanthropy panel discussion


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