Women's Leadership Institute hosts Healthy Leadership, Support and Community panel, celebrates graduates

April 17, 2024 - Emily Jodway


Photo by Jacqueline Hawthorne

The MSU Women’s Leadership Institute held its final events of the semester on April 3 and 4, bringing together alumni, supporters and students for a celebration of the year’s accomplishments and a send-off of this year’s graduating members of the Student Cohort. 

The two-day slate began with a workshop for the Student Cohort led by alumnae Stacy Sollenberger. Sollenberger wrapped up an exercise in mentorship that the students had been practicing throughout the semester, recapping their experiences with upperclassmen members of the Cohort serving as mentors to freshmen members.

Thursday’s Healthy Leadership, Support & Community event kicked off with its keynote event, a panel discussion featuring Margaret Dimond, PhD, April Clobes, and Tiffany Ford. The trio recently came together to form a partnership involving their businesses, and discussed with the group how to focus on partnerships that create positive community change while also being a leader that prioritizes mental, emotional, and physical health. 

Clobes, the current President and CEO of MSU Federal Credit Union, discussed her leadership style of working with employees on a personal level so that they know their work is just as important as that of the senior leadership’s. 

“It’s important for a lot of people, knowing who the leadership is,” she explained. “So I meet with every new hire group, I’ll take a meeting with any employee any time they ask, and I think that makes a difference in the place that you work. The most important asset any organization has is other humans.”

Dimond is the Regional Systems President at the University of Michigan Health, which includes the local Sparrow Hospital Branch. She taught the group about the benefits of work-life balance and forcing oneself to ‘turn off’ when needed and recharge in order to improve mental and physical wellbeing. 

“Having a healthy lifestyle and a healthy and balanced life also helps in being able to bring your best self to work, and that helps your leadership, your outlook, your priorities,” she said. “Everyone is different in terms of what recharges your battery, so that is where you really need to do a self-assessment and bake that into your work life.”

As the President and CEO of University of Michigan Credit Union, Ford brought up the importance of “recognizing the greatness and uniqueness in every person” when in a leadership position.

“I tell all of my new team members that come in, ‘there’s no other you, there’s no other me, in this entire world,’” Ford said. “We all have something individually to offer in our own unique way, and we don’t need to shy away from that. We don’t have to do things like everybody else does.”

The event also gave two pairs of researchers, winners of the 2023 Tomlanovich-Dimond Research Equity Fund, the opportunity to present their research that was conducted over the past year. The Tomlanovich-Dimond fund provides financial assistance for the academic year to support a research project conducted by a faculty member and undergraduate student team that builds upon the vision of the Women’s Leadership Institute to advance leadership equity for women globally.

Assistant Professor Dr. Deyanira Nevarez Martinez worked with Urban and Regional Planning student Vivian Morales to examine the challenges to accessing safe, sanitary and affordable family housing for female migrant farmworkers in Western Michigan. Human Capital and Society major Devian Johnson, partnered with Dr. Amanda Chaun from the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations and graduate student Andrew S. Johnson, examined the effects of social environment on a student’s decision to choose the STEM field, as well as how this influences their likelihood of sticking with their decision through college and into a future career. 

Read more about both of these research projects here

seniorsThe finale of the event put the spotlight on the students, as Cohort members found out the winners of the 2024 scholarship awards and 17 seniors were honored before their upcoming graduation. Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Emily Durbin opened the celebration with her remarks before handing things off to Sumaiya Imad, a freshman member of the Cohort from Bangladesh. Sumaiya gave personal testimony on the benefits of being a member of the Student Cohort, giving both mentorship and support while enhancing her ability to be a student leader. An economics major, Sumaiya is active in the Honors College and with undergraduate research, and is the owner of non-profit Sincerely Her, which helped victims of human trafficking become self-sustaining small business owners. She is also a recipient of the Delta Dental, Ebert Family Leadership and Mary Louise Tavarozzi Endowed scholarships.

The evening ended with a tribute message from WLI Executive Board member Felicia Wasson, honoring the late Carolyn Jackson. Carolyn ‘CJ’ Jackson was a proud MSU graduate, board member and supporter of the WLI. Most recently, CJ served as Senior Vice President, Human Resources, North America for the Coca-Cola Company. She spent years personally committed to helping others reach their leadership potential and was an inspirational mentor to WLI students and alumnae alike. Read more about CJ’s life and impact here

See the full list of scholarship winners and graduating seniors below. 

WLI Cohort Scholarship Awardees

Srishti Gowda - Carolyn Jackson Legacy Award

Megan Tinerella - Ebert Family Leadership Scholarship

Rachel Applegate - Ebert Family Leadership Scholarship
Dhwani Bagrecha - Ebert Family Leadership Scholarship

Sydney Bair - Loaiza-Souza Leadership Award

Emilia Breuning- Loaiza-Souza Leadership Award

Sumaiya Imad - Loaiza-Souza Leadership Award

Kendall Brach - WLI Experiential Learning Fund

Rachael Salah - WLI Experiential Learning Fund

Aanika Sanghvi - WLI Experiential Learning Fund

Maddie Shlaimoon - WLI Experiential Learning Fund

WLI Cohort Class of 2024 Graduates

Elizabeth Armstrong - Political Science with minor in Law, Justice and Public Policy

Jasmin Banks - Psychology (fall ‘23)

Madge Bolek - Psychology with minors in Human Behavior & Social Services, and Youth & Society 

Emilia Breuning - Marketing with minors in Spanish, International Business, and Global Studies in Social Science

Bella Hoye - Psychology with minors in Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies

Taylor Hughes-Barrow - Human Development & Family Studies with minors in Law, Justice & Public Policy, and Digital Humanities

Olivia Johnson - Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science and Psychology with a minor in Leadership of Organizations

Jilianne Kowalchuk - Political Science Pre-Law with minors in Law, Justice & Public Policy, and Leadership of Organizations

Aubree Muethel - Microbiology with a minor in Pharmacology & Toxicology

Julia Noel - Neuroscience with Behavioral and Systems Concentration with minor in Integrated Leadership through Bailey Scholars Program

Olivia Pauls - Civil Engineering

Megan Smejkal - Political Science, Economics and History with a minor in Social Science Quantitative Data Analysis

Maddie Shlaimoon - Human Capital & Society with minor in Leadership & Organizations

Megan Tinerella - Psychology with minors in Human Behavior & Social Services and Youth & Society

Hannah Vogel - Chemical Engineering

Jordan Welch - Psychology with a minor in Social Science Quantitative Data Analytics

Christina Xenos - Neuroscience, Human Biology and Psychology with minors in Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Cognitive Science