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Simmons & Girl Scouts Join Forces to Focus on Girls

December 15, 2014

During the November conference “Dreaming Big: Making the Case for Girls,” Simmons College and Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts co-hosted an important discussion with activists, funders, policymakers, educators, and girl-serving organizations to improve the lives and futures of girls.

More than 100 girl-serving advocates attended the conference to hear keynote speakers Patricia A. Parcellin, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts; Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor At-Large; and Tuti B. Scott, President and Founder of Imagine Philanthropy.

“It’s not a job; it’s my life’s work– a ministry,” said Councilor Pressley on advocating for girls’ success.

Panel discussions focused on education, funding, and support for girls. The day-long event also featured speakers from girl-serving organizations, such as Girls’ LEAP, Investing in Girls Alliance, Science Club for Girls, and Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.

This is the second conference in two years co-hosted by Simmons and Girl Scouts focusing on girls’ education and success. The two organizations came together in 2012 to conduct original research on middle school girls and career aspirations. The research resulted in a November 2012 conference with area girl-serving organizations, “Dreaming Big: What’s Gender Got to Do With It?”

“Many girls thinking about jobs think ‘doctor, lawyer,’” said Prema Bangera, Teen Voices Rising Coordinator for Write Boston, an all-girls writing and mentorship program. “The conference informed women about the varieties of jobs and all opportunities available to us. I enjoy that this conversation was able to happen.”

(TOP: Councilor Pressley during her talk on public policy. RIGHT: Keynote speakers Tuti B. Scott, Councilor Ayanna Pressley, and Patricia A. Parcellin. PHOTO CREDIT: Chanel Carrasquilla.)

Asian Women’s Leadership Conference Inspires & Invigorates

December 10, 2014

Further reinforcing its work to foster women’s leadership, education, and success, the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change recently hosted the 10th annual ASPIRE (Asian Sisters Participating in Reaching Excellence) Women in Leadership Conference. Held Nov. 1 at Simmons College, the “Making it Count” conference broke previous attendance records with more than 200 women and girls from high schools, colleges, corporations, and non-profits such as Smith, Wellesley, Yale, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Barbara Lee Family Foundation, State Street Corporation, Wellington Management, Liberty Mutual Group, and others.

The conference included 13 workshops and more than 30 speakers. Simmons student Grace Tang '15 gave welcoming remarks and spoke highly of her Simmons experience. Tang also moderated a workshop on “Engaging and Leading on Campus.” Simmons graduate student Leila Zainab spoke about “Overcoming Obstacles and Hardship,” and students from the Simmons Asian Student Association served as volunteers.

The conference included performances by The Genki Spark, a multi-generational, pan-Asian women's art and advocacy organization that uses Japanese taiko drumming to build community and leadership; spoken word artist Kelly Tsai; and Gund Kwok, the only Asian Women Lion & Dragon Dance Troupe in the U.S. 

 “What a wonderful opportunity for our students and attendees to network and meet professionals in different careers,” said Diane Hammer, director of the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change. 

(TOP: Conference Director Jenny Szeto. RIGHT: Volunteers at ASPIRE registration. BOTTOM: Gund Kwok performance. PHOTO CREDIT: Diane Hammer.)

Faculty Accomplishments - October 2014

November 14, 2014

At Simmons we take the time to acknowledge and appreciate our faculty and their achievements. Each month, this blog will update the community on all of their accomplishments and successes.

William Bellamy, Warburg Professor of International Relations and Political Science, moderated the Warburg Panel “A World in Crisis: Diplomacy Today & Careers in Foreign Service” Oct. 1. Speakers included educators and Warburg ambassadors Thomas Hull, former Simmons College Warburg Professor of International Relations; Mary Beth Leonard, Diplomat in Residence for New England; and Robert Loftus, Professor of Practice at Boston University.

Stacy Blake-Beard, professor of management, presented “Looking Back to Move Forward: OD as a Catalyst to Recognize, Transform and Energize” Oct. 26 at the Organization Development (OD) Network’s 50th Anniversary conference, “Recognize, Transform, Energize,” in Philadelphia.

Edith Bresler, associate professor of practice in art and music, has an exhibit of photographs “We Sold A Winner” featured in the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography at La Verne University, Calif., Oct. 20 to Jan. 15.

Angela Chang, associate professor in the School of Management, published an article titled “Case Studies of E-health Implementation on U.S. Hospital Websites” in the Oct. 7 peer-reviewed E-service Journal, 9(2), 46-61. Chang also presented “Waste in Consumption – Who Does It?” at the Association for Consumer Research North American Conference in Baltimore, Oct. 23-26.

Changqing Chen, senior lecturer of chemistry and physics; and student Caitlin Horgan received an Honorable Mention from the American Chemistry Society (ACS) for activities conducted in the Simmons College chapter of the Chemistry and Physics Liaison during the 2013-2014 academic year. The Liaison will be recognized at the 249th ACS National Meeting in Denver in March 2015.

LaDonna Christian, associate professor of practice in nursing and director of the Dotson Bridge and Mentoring program, presented “Diversity Best Practice: The Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program” at the Massachusetts Action Coalition: Future of Nursing conference Oct. 2 in Devens.

Amy Deschenes, systems & web applications librarian, had an article entitled “Improving the Library Homepage through User Research – Without a Total Redesign” published in the new online peer-reviewed journal Weave: Journal of Library User Experience by Michigan Publishing.

Kristin Dukes, assistant professor of psychology, presented “Race and the Movement to Legalize Marijuana” at the New England Psychological Association conference, held Oct. 17 and 18, at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Sari Edelstein, associate professor of nutrition, presented “The Registered Dietitian as the Food Allergy Educator for the 6-12 School Kitchen Staff” at The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Oct. 20.

Greg Feldman, associate professor of psychology, presented “The Impact of Co-rumination, Brooding, and Interpersonal Stress on Depressed Affect: A Daily Diary Study”; “Perceived Homework Quality and Self-Criticism Predict Daily Academic Effort”; “Mindfulness as a Moderator of the Association of Negative Affect and Daily Alcohol Use”; and “Mindfulness as a Moderator of the Impact of Daily Executive Dysfunction on Dysphoric Affect” at the New England Psychological Association conference, held Oct. 17 and 18. Feldman’s presentations took place on the second day of the conference at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Linda Del Vecchio-Gilbert, professor of practice and coordinator of the core curriculum in nursing, was featured in an article, “Halloween Party Gives Parents Snapshot of Life,” published by the Catholic Free Press. The article provided information about a Halloween party at Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School for children with life-limiting illness.

Colleen Kiely, associate professor of art, has two drawings on display at the South Shore Arts Center in Cohasset as part of the “Works on Paper” exhibit Oct. 24 to Dec. 21.

Sarah Martin, assistant professor of psychology, co-authored an article titled “Sleep Onset and Night Walking Insomnias in Preschoolers with Psychiatric Disorders” published in an advance online publication of the international journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development Oct. 7.

Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, professor of social work, moderated a panel on “Race and Racism in Clinic and Culture” Oct. 20 at Simmons College with colleagues Fakhry Davids, Lisa Lowe, and Usha Tummala-Narra. Hamilton-Mason also presented a paper titled “Challenges and Strengths of Studying Abroad for Students from Traditionally Marginalized Communities” at the Council on Social Work Education's Annual Program Meeting in Tampa, Fla., Oct. 25.

Zinnia Mukherjee, assistant professor of economics, with colleague Juan Pedro Garces-Voisenat, was featured in the fall 2014 issue of the Durham University Business School alumni magazine for their research in Patagonia, Chile, which examined society’s inclination to pay for alternative resources.

Bob Oppenheim, Professor Emeritus, has artwork on exhibit at the New Art Center as part of the “Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Artist Fellows and Finalists in Painting” installation Oct. 23 to Nov. 15. Oppenheim is one of 15 award-winning exhibiting artists.

Noah Wilson-Rich, professor of biology and overseer of the Simmons College honeybee hive, gave a talk, “Our Future with Bees,” at TEDxBoston Oct. 2 at The Great Hall at Faneuil Hall. This is his second TEDxBoston talk. Wilson-Rich also conducted book reading and signing events of his book “The Bee: A Natural History” at Labyrinth Books, Princeton, N.J., Oct. 21; and at the New England Aquarium Oct. 30.

Becky Thompson, professor and chair of sociology, hosted workshops “In the Realm of Moving Waters: Yoga, Neuroplasticity, and Social Justice” at Vassar College Oct. 9; yoga trauma and recovery for people recovering from addictions Oct. 17 at the SunUte Community Center in Ignacio, Colo.; and a workshop at Peaceful Dragon Zen Home Temple in Westhampton, N.J. She was interviewed by YogaCity NYC about her book, “Survivors on the Yoga Mat,” and by Southern Ute Tribal Radio/KSUT Oct. 14. A review of “Survivors on the Yoga Mat” was published in the LifeForce Yoga online newsletter. Thompson taught a yoga class at the SunUte Community Center Oct. 14 and conducted a book reading at Bikram Yoga Oct. 18 in Northampton. She also wrote an article, “Yoga for Every Body and in All Kinds of Places,” published in health magazine Mantra.

All Simmons faculty, please submit your news items on this form.

(PHOTO: Greg Feldman, Kristin Dukes, and students at the New England Psychological Association conference. PHOTO CREDIT: Jeanine Skorinko)


Faculty Accomplishments - September 2014

October 17, 2014

At Simmons we take the time to acknowledge and appreciate our faculty and their achievements. Each month, this blog will update the community on all of their accomplishments and successes.

Erica Gunn, assistant professor of chemistry and physics, presented a talk “The Symmetry of Chemistry and Color” as part of the Lunchtime Lecture Series of the “Retina Riot” art exhibit in the Trustman Art Gallery on Sept. 17.

Melanie Kimball, associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science, did a presentation, “We do most earnestly believe in the power of books to affect the soul of a child": Children’s Librarians as a Moral Force, 1890-1920, at the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) conference in Antwerp, Belgium on Sept. 18.

Becky Thompson, professor and chair of sociology, published a new book about the healing power of yoga for trauma survivors, "Survivors on the Yoga Mat," on Sept. 9. A Twitter contest accompanied the release of her new book with the hashtag #SurvivorsYogaMat where contestants tweeted for a chance to win an autographed bookplate.

Afaa Michael Weaver, professor of English, published the final book in his Plum Flower Trilogy, "City of Eternal Spring," on Sept. 17. Weaver won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for the second book in the trilogy, "The Government of Nature."

Noah Wilson-Rich, professor of biology and overseer of the Simmons College honeybee hive, published an article on bee colony trends in The New York Times on Sept. 24 and was featured in The Boston Globe on his urban beekeeping business, Best Bees, on Sept. 27. Wilson-Rich also conducted a reading of his book "The Bee: A Natural History" at the Boston Public Library on Sept. 30.

All Simmons faculty, please submit your news items on this form.

(PHOTO: Becky Thompson holding "Survivors on the Yoga Mat." PHOTO CREDIT: Crystal Thompson Rizzo '12GS ) 


Pre-Law Forum Showcases Variety of Legal Careers

October 9, 2014

During the second annual Pre-Law Forum hosted at Simmons Sept. 23, panelists ranging from lawyers to judges discussed the myriad of career opportunities open to students who choose to pursue law degrees.

More than 50 Simmons students and recent graduates interested in law school and the various opportunities law degrees create attended the forum, moderated by the Hon. Lynda Connolly, Simmons College Chief of Staff and former Chief Justice of the District Court in Massachusetts.

The panel was sponsored by the Simmons Pre-Law Advising Program, the Office of Advancement, and the Career Education Center. Panelists included Maureen Thornton Syracuse ’68, Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem ’76, New Hampshire State Representative Michele Peckham ’86, and first year Northeastern University law student Katherine Anne Harper ’12. The women discussed their challenges in building professional careers, risk taking, and jobs and the economy.

“I hope this forum challenges you to a positive vision of your own potential role in a career that will contribute to the cause of justice to a world at peace,” Connolly said.

(PHOTO: From left to right- Maureen Thornton Syracuse, Lynda M. Connolly, Katherine Anne Harper, Amy L. Nechtem, and Michele Peckham. PHOTO CREDIT: Diane Hammer)

Simmons Hosts Training for Girls in Science

October 3, 2014

The Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change (SILC) recently hosted the Science Club for Girls (SCFG) volunteer training.

More than 70 mentors – including Simmons College students — and volunteers attended the event to engage in hands-on activities for K-12th grade girls in order to “inspire, engage and share the magic of science.”

During the training, SCFG helped volunteers explore chemistry with film canister rockets fueled by Alka-Seltzer and water, and discussed engineering using uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows.

Simmons student Anwaar Alrefae ’15, a SCFG intern, welcomed everyone on behalf of Simmons and spoke about the importance of mentoring young women, emphasizing the significance of her education at Simmons College, an environment dedicated to women’s leadership and success.

SCFG is a non-profit organization that brings young girls and women scientists together in free science clubs, giving girls an opportunity to experience science in a fun, nurturing, and interactive environment. For more information, visit Science Club for Girls.

(Top: Volunteers conduct a chemistry experiment on the Simmons College campus. Right: Simmons student Anwaar Alrefae (center) and fellow SCFG volunteers. PHOTO CREDIT: Diane Hammer)

Faculty Accomplishments - Summer 2014

September 16, 2014

At Simmons we take the time to acknowledge and appreciate our faculty and their achievements. Each month, this blog will update the community on all of their accomplishments and successes.

Paul Abraham, Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching ESL (MATESL) Program, co-presented two sessions “Caught Between ELS and Special Education” on the identification of English Language Learners with possible language–based disabilities at the annual Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Conference in Portland, Ore. March 26 - 29. Abraham presented an overview of the research and case studies with two MATESL program graduates, Maria Hegarty ’00, a teacher in the Newton Public Schools; and Lindy Forrester ’09, a teacher in the Marlborough Public Schools.

LaDonna Christian, associate professor of nursing, received the United Health Foundation Scholarship, in July. This scholarship is awarded to nursing students pursing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or higher nursing degree, from the National Black Nurses Association.

Sarah Martin, assistant professor of psychology, recently published "Child and parent perceptions of interparental relationship conflict predict preschool children’s adjustment" with colleagues Mari L. Clements, David W. Randall, and Karen L. Kane in the August issue of Couple & Family Psychology: Research and Practice.

Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, social work professor, and Kathy Lopes, coordinator for Academic Services, traveled to Washington D.C. in June with 16 graduate students to learn about advocacy and political action.

Teresa Nelson, Elizabeth J. McCandless Professor of Entrepreneurship Chair, recently was invited to join the prestigious National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). The NWBC is a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners.

Beverly Sealey ’77, associate professor in the School of Social Work, presented a paper, "Self-Perceptions of Relations with Parents, Attitudes Toward School, Achievement, and Delinquency Among Black Youth from Diverse Ethnic Cultures,” at the National Association of Black Social Workers 46th Annual Conference, held in Indianapolis, Ind., April 15 -19. Sealey presented the findings of her research with black youth, ages 16 - 19 years, and their attitudes toward school, achievement, future orientation, social functioning, involvement with crime and delinquency, and implications for policy change.

Afaa Weaver, professor of English, recently had his poetry chapbook “A Hard Summation” published by Central Square Press. Weaver was one of 50 authors chosen to submit a story for The Brown Reader (Simon & Schuster, 2014), a book celebrating the 250th anniversary of Brown University.

Renee White, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was recently appointed to the Vision 2020 Leadership Circle. As part of the Leadership Circle, she will participate in setting the strategic direction of Vision 2020, represent the coalition as a speaker, facilitator or advocate, and help set the agenda for the National Congress. Simmons was the first college chapter of Vision 2020, which had been spearheaded by Dean White and Kate Phelps ’13GS. Dean White also attended the 2014 Higher Education for Democratic Innovation Global Forum conference in Belfast, Ireland this summer, as a delegate and speaker. The conference, held June 24-26, was part of an agreement between partners committed to promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, as well as social cohesion and intercultural dialogue, and their belief in the role of education in furthering these goals.

All Simmons faculty, please submit your news items on this form.

Simmons Makes Two National “Best Colleges” Rankings

August 19, 2014

This summer, Simmons College netted two “Best Colleges in America” rankings from national organizations: FORBES and The Princeton Review.

For the seventh consecutive year, FORBES named Simmons College among America’s best 650 four-year colleges in its annual Top College Ranking for 2014. According to its website, the FORBES ranking is based primarily on what students get from their college experience. Rankings data, therefore, is gathered from five general categories: student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rate, and nationally competitive awards.

The Princeton Review also recently named Simmons among “The Best 379 Colleges” in its 2015 edition. This ranking derives from surveys of more than 130,000 students attending schools across the nation. The students are asked 80 questions about their school's academics, administration, student body, and themselves.

The Princeton Review ranking said Simmons’s nearly 2,000 undergraduates “love the fact that they can easily access the city's rich social and cultural resources but also come home to a safe, friendly campus.” Said a Simmons student: the college’s “location offers the best of both worlds-an intimate college experience in the heart of a vibrant and bustling city.”

Simmons has received other top rankings from organizations including U.S.News & World Report and Kiplingers Personal Finance.

Simmons Hosts International Women’s Day Breakfast

March 14, 2014

More than 100 people attended this year’s Boston-Area International Women’s Day Breakfast, held at Simmons March 7. This annual event is now in its 17th year, and has been held at the College since 2001.

“This day gives all of us the chance to join with people from around the world and focus on issues important to all women,” said Diane Hammer, director of the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change, which hosted the event.

This year, a panel of experts spoke about “Moving Women’s Wages Forward: Locally and Globally.” Speakers included Jacqueline Cooke, Regional Administrator and Acting Director of Policy and Programs for the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau; Ann Bookman, Director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston; Yuko Takahashi, Fulbright Scholar and Professor at Tsuda College; Monique Nguyen, Executive Director at MataHari; and Dr. Paula Johnson, Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s and member of the Boston Women’s Workforce Council.

The musical group Women of the World opened the event, which was attended by Boston City Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley, an advocate for women and girls.

In her opening remarks, Cooke described “occupational segregation” as a major barrier to women’s wage equality.

“We still have men doing traditional ‘men’s jobs’ and women doing what we think of as traditional ‘women’s jobs’ and the pay for these is significantly less,” she said. “We have made a lot of progress over the years but there is much work that needs to be done.”

Each year, a planning committee representing approximately 15 women’s organizations works with the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change to plan the event. Previous topics have included women in hunger, women in the green economy, women’s economic self-sufficiency, violence against women, and creating equality in women’s health.


Pictured Above: Moderator Jacqueline Cooke with panelists Paula Johnson, Monique Nguyen, Yuko Takahashi, and Ann Bookman.

New Research Reveals Importance of Girl-Serving Organizations

March 5, 2014

Simmons recently hosted a conversation among several girl-serving organizations in Massachusetts, to discuss findings from a research project that looks at career aspirations of middle school girls.

“Dreaming Big” is a collaborative research project between Simmons College and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. The first phase of the research was released in November 2012, using data from more than 1,600 middle school students in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. The data was released during a 2012 conference at Simmons, which was attended by more than 100 educators and advocates from 54 girl-serving organizations.

Phase two of the “Dreaming Big” project included the collection of additional data from more than 300 girls of color from members of five girl-serving organizations: Science Club for Girls; Strong Women Strong Girls; Girls’ LEAP; Big Sister Association of Greater Boston; and Investing in Girls Alliance. During a Feb. 26 discussion with leaders of those organizations, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts Director of Council Initiatives and Research Karyn Martin, and Simmons College professors Mary Shapiro and Diane Grossman explained the preliminary findings, which they hope will help to address what is commonly called the “leaky pipeline” for women and leadership. The “leaky pipeline” shows that while women enter the workforce at the same rate as, and often with higher education levels than, men they tend to “leak” out of the path to leadership in larger numbers than their male counterparts due to a variety of social, organizational, and personal factors.

“The data in this research project confirms the power and importance of girl-serving organizations,” said Shapiro. “What we want to do next, is use the data to show others how these and other organizations can help to reverse the “leaky pipeline” and in doing so, help to improve our overall economy with more, qualified women leaders.”


Complete findings from phase two of the research will be released later this summer. Preliminary findings that were shared Feb. 26 included:

  • By middle school, girls of color are beginning to make career decisions, but are lacking helpful information, just as girls who are white. In the absence of career advice coming from parents and schools, girl-serving organizations have taken up that effort.
  • Girls of color have different career aspirations and career goals than girls who are white. Girls of color pay less attention to social messages about what they can and cannot do as working adults, and are more likely to be told to not pursue a particular career than girls who are white.
  • Girls of color are more likely to expect to keep working after they have children, than girls who are white.
  • A Nov. 14, 2014 conference is planned for participating girl-serving organizations to convene and discuss next steps in how best to use the research to guide their programming efforts.
Pictured above: Members of Girl Serving Organizations and Simmons partners at Wednesday's meeting.