Spartan’s Will: The WLI in New York City

January 11, 2024 - Amanda Guinot Talbot, PhD



Recently, I have been reflecting on what it means to be a Spartan, and in the recent months of my thought exploration, I have never been prouder to call myself a member of this elite group.

In the past few months, I have seen students return to campus after tragedy and, with great strength, pick up the pieces and reclaim our beautiful campus. I have heard of faculty giving of themselves, going over and above to help students promote their holistic health and support their success. I have met alums whose joy is giving back to the students with their time, talent, and treasure. I have talked with WLI student cohort leaders about their current and future leadership plans, with most of their dreams based around helping others and changing the world, including one freshman leader who started and now manages a non-profit aimed at liberating women caught in human trafficking.

Notably, last December, two powerful groups on MSU’s campus—The Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) and the Women in Philanthropy group—came together with alumna in New York City to celebrate the power of Spartan women leaders and highlight one outstanding leader. The leader who encouraged me and my belief in a Spartan’s will is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.

Dr. Mona is a great friend of the WLI, an activist, physician, teacher, mother to two biological children and thousands of children who call Flint, Michigan, home, and someone who is a self-proclaimed “fanatic when it comes to protecting all kids.” Fittingly, the name Mona means hope, wish, or desire. Dr. Hanna-Attisha, an activist since birth and in line with her name, was born for a time and a mission—advocating for and bringing HOPE to a city, a group of children deserving of more, and the cause of equity. While she may be best known for her work during the Flint water crisis, Dr. Mona’s impact and legacy did not begin then. The work she did is the work she has always done. Like her high school “project” closing an incinerator in a Detroit suburb. Of her lifelong advocacy, she says, “Once you have had a chance to change things, to have a real-world impact, you never forget it.”

Across our evening, Dr. Mona spoke of her efforts during the Flint water crisis and what she and her team have done since then to fight Flint’s most formidable foes, structural inequity, and poverty. To do this, Dr. Mona has employed numerous innovative programs to change the health picture for Flint families, providing fresh fruit and vegetables, stipends to new mothers, and much more. There is no stopping this Spartan and her will to make a difference in the world!


About the Author

Amanda Guinot TalbotAmanda Guinot Talbot, PhD

Director, Women’s Leadership Institute
Mason-Soneral Faculty Fellow, Women’s Leadership Institute
Director of Undergraduate Education and Assistant Professor, HDFS

Dr. Amanda Guinot Talbot is the director of undergraduate education and an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. As the Women’s Leadership Institute director Dr. Guinot Talbot works on institute programming, curricula, and student engagement. Dr. Guinot Talbot also is a co-administrator of the financial literacy educational campaigns at MSU (Go for the Green). She received her master’s degree in Family Studies and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Michigan State University.