WLC Provides Mentoring and Education About Philanthrophy to Its Members

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After almost five years, WLC continues to make major contributions to LMU.

In early 2006, a small group of women gathered together to explore their vision of a women’s leadership group that would benefit both them and Loyola Marymount University. Some were alumni of Marymount College, some were spouses of Loyola University graduates, and still others were faculty or longtime friends and supporters of LMU. They were all determined to put their commitment to mentoring, education and philanthropy to work in the service of others and for the university. From that desire emerged the Women’s Leadership Council.

Ginni Dreier ’69 and Kathleen Desmond ’71 are founding members and co-chairs of WLC. Dreier says the group’s organizers were convinced that there was a community of women with an interest in philanthropy who already were devoted to the university and wished to have a greater role in supporting LMU’s goals. But Dreier and her colleagues also realized that many women who acquire wealth, whether through business, work or an inheritance, were interested in learning more about how to manage those resources effectively.

The Women’s Leadership Council members, therefore, took on a broader responsibility than simply raising funds. They decided to also create opportunities for women to get together and learn from one another. At luncheons and other meetings, women could learn more about the resources and goals of LMU and their own financial and physical health.

The WLC has provided opportunities for members to hear from speakers such as Kitty Dukakis, wife of Michael Dukakis, who wrote a bestseller about her battle with depression, and health experts such as Jana Klauer ’68, a doctor, nutritionist and author. The group also has organized educational trips to the Huntington Museum and the Getty Museum. Events like these create important mentoring opportunities, Dreier says, particularly for younger women.

“We want to help them meet people who have followed their dreams and to talk about pursuing goals,” Dreier says.

Fundraising for LMU is clearly part of the project, says Dreier, and women who join make a contribution of at least $1,000, or $500 for Young Presidential Associates, to university needs. In WLC's first year, $75,000 was raised and the group grew to 60 members. Fast forward to almost five years later, we were extremely proud at the end of Summer 2010 to make a special end of year gift to Heads UP, an important program developed by LMU Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Joseph LaBrie, S.J., aimed at reducing campus problem drinking. Additionally, funds raised from the WLC's events and membership have gone toward the construction of the William H. Hannon Library, and the Peg Dolan, R.S.H.M. Campus Ministry Center.

Desmond is a member of a similar group at Arizona State University in Phoenix, where she lives. Her motivation as a WLC co-founder was the opportunity to share her experience and enthusiasm for the program with the women of LMU.

“Women are taking an interest in leadership and philanthropy at universities throughout the country. This council is an opportunity for women associated with LMU to give back to the university and reconnect with it. It also offers recent graduates mentoring and networking opportunities with alumnae who are professionals in their fields and leaders in their communities,” Desmond says.

Stephanie Nordseth ’07 is a young alumna who joined the WLC. “Being part of this group means that I get to spend time with wonderful women who share a passion for LMU and for serving others. We get to attend fun, stimulating events that enrich our minds and bring us together as a community,” Nordseth says.

For Dreier, passing the tradition to others may be her greatest source of satisfaction. “We want the young women who are coming up to enjoy the same kind of pride that we have and to be proud of their fabulous education, because it is fabulous,” she says.

For more information about the Women’s Leadership Council, contact Michelle Bernardin, associate director for women and philanthropy, 310.568.6161 or michelle.bernardin@lmu.edu.