Vision 2020: Equality in Sight

May 02, 2014

Renee White

On Monday, May 5th, CAS Dean Renee White, Simmons alumna and MA State Delegate Katherine Phelps, two student representatives, and a number of Simmons alumnae/i will attend the Vision 2020 4th National Congress in Philadelphia.

During the Congress, Simmons alumna, Gwen Ifill will receive the Pioneer Award and introduce the theme of this year's conference, "Generations of Change."

In the spring of 2012, Dean White and Gender and Cultural Studies graduate student Katherine Phelps began the first Vision 2020 college chapter in the United States. As an ally, Simmons assists in Vision 2020's Campaign for Equality, a movement that aims to bring America closer to equality by 2020, the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment. Specifically, the campaign seeks to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions, achieve pay equality, mobilize women to vote, and educate employers about the value of policies that enable men and women to share family responsibilities. The campaign was launched in 2010 with support from a congress of national delegates representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Recently, Dean White was invited onto the planning and advisory committee for Vision 2020's fifth national goal concerning education. We had the chance to speak with Dean White about Simmons' involvement with Vision 2020, and their goals for the future.

What inspired Simmons to become the first U.S. College Chapter of Vision 2020? How has this chapter developed since 2012?

I have been very familiar with Vision 2020 since well before coming to Simmons. Based on what I knew about their mission and vision, it seemed like a logical fit for college students.

I asked Katie Phelps, one of the CAS graduate students on staff to investigate whether Vision 2020 was interested in partnering with colleges and whether there would be college chapters for students. We were ahead of the curve as Vision 2020 staff was developing an outreach strategy and a series of documents to help students organize chapters. Kate and I were able to provide feedback and support for the Vision 2020 team as they developed these materials. This is what led to Simmons being invited to start the first chapter in the U.S.

Kate worked with Student Life to host information sessions about Vision 2020 and was able to garner a lot of interest in the initiative. I served as the inaugural faculty advisor. The chapter has hosted events such as a voter registration drive.

How are young women affected by the work of Vision 2020? 

Since the goal of Vision 2020 is gender equity, all of the work of the organization benefits young women. Vision 2020 has five national goals:
  • Increase the number of women in senior leadership positions
  • Advance women's economic security and achieve pay equity
  • Promote-family-friendly workplace policies
  • Engage and educate women voters and increase women's participation in the political process
  • Educate young people to value gender equality, shared leadership and civic engagement

What does it mean for a Simmons Alumna to be presented with the Vision 2020 Pioneer award?

It is recognition of her life's work which has always reflected the core goals of Vision 2020--both directly and indirectly. In addition to receiving the award, Ms. Ifill will introduce the theme of this year's conference, "Generations of Change," and explore with other speakers how different generations of women embrace and change the fight for women's equality. This topic is of special interest to our Simmons community, with our long history of educating generations of women to be leaders and change agents.