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Rally Day

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One of Smith’s most enduring and exuberant traditions, Rally Day celebrates the power of the Smith community and the remarkable contributions Smith alums have made to our world. The day is highlighted by a festive all-college gathering at which distinguished alums are awarded Smith College Medals by the president. It is also the first time seniors wear their graduation regalia, often topped with creative hats, as they look ahead to life beyond the Grécourt Gates.

Virtual Rally Day 2022

This year’s honorees were celebrated on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Afternoon classes were canceled for Rally Day, which marked the first time seniors publicly wore their graduation gowns—along with inventive hats—in keeping with the day’s spirit of Smith pride.

WATCH RALLY DAY 2022

Meet the 2022 Medalists

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Jane Lakes Harman ’66

Global security expert; former U.S. Representative
Jane Harman, distinguished fellow and president emerita of the Wilson Center, is an internationally recognized authority on U.S. and global security issues, foreign relations and law making. Raised in Los Angeles and a public-school graduate, she earned her graduate degree from Harvard Law School and went on to become a nine-term member of Congress, serving for decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives. Drawing upon a career that has included service as President Carter’s secretary of the Cabinet and hundreds of diplomatic missions to foreign countries, Harman has held posts on and received awards from nearly a dozen governmental and nongovernmental advisory boards and commissions. Harman resigned from Congress in February 2011 to join the Woodrow Wilson Center as its first female director, president and CEO. After leading the Wilson Center for a decade, she retired from that position this past February. Harman is the author of Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe, published in May 2021 by St. Martin’s Press. Harman received an honorary degree from Smith in 1994.

READ THE GATE INTERVIEW

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S. Mona Ghosh Sinha ’88

Advocate for gender equality
Mona Ghosh Sinha is a champion for gender equality in business, politics and society. Originally from Kolkata, India, she has parlayed a career in the corporate world to leverage business tools and build sustainable social justice organizations that uplift women’s leadership. Founder of the Feminist Circle Fund and the Asian Women’s Leadership University, Sinha is the board chair of Women Moving Millions and of the ERA Coalition Fund for Women’s Equality. She is an executive producer of Disclosure, a documentary film on trans rights. She serves on the founding boards of the Smithsonian Women’s American History Museum and the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, and is on the advisory boards of Apne Aap International, the Museum of Natural History, Columbia Business School Tamer Center and the Columbia School of Public Health Global Mental Health initiative. A trustee emerita of Smith, she was vice chair of the board of trustees and co-led the $486 million Women for the World campaign. She has been honored for her vision and leadership, including the Horton Award for Excellence in Social Enterprise from Columbia Business School, her graduate alma mater.

READ THE GATE INTERVIEW

“This woman will clean House.”

Jane Lakes Harman’66 entered elective politics with the theme “This woman will clean House.” As a Democratic congresswoman, she managed to establish an increasingly secure seat for herself as representative of the Los Angeles South Bay’s 36th District. During Harman’s long public career, she has been recognized as a national expert at the nexus of security and public policy issues. In 2012 she was named one of the 50 most influential Democrats on foreign policy by Foreign Policy Magazineand was the first woman to lead Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, 2011 to 2021, as CEO.

During the 1970s, she worked in a variety of public service roles in Washington, D.C., including chief legislative assistant to California senator John Tunney, chief counsel and staff director on two congressional subcommittees, and deputy secretary to the cabinet during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Through the 1980s, she held significant positions with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), acting as counsel for the 1984 platform committee and chairing the DNC’s National Lawyer’s Council (1986–1992) while she practiced law with several Washington firms.

Harman first ran for elective office in 1992, winning the seat in the 36th Congressional District, whose composition became substantially more conservative following redistricting after the 1990 census. Only 41 percent of registered voters in the new district were Democrats at the start of her campaign. Harman’s win was unique and costly (at $2.3 million, the third highest of any House candidate that year).In 1994, she was returned to office by such a narrow edge that her opponent, Susan Brooks, ahead by 93 votes before absentees were tallied, flew to Washington to join in the celebration for the “Republican Revolution” and undergo orientation for new representatives.

As a congressional freshman, Harman was appointed to the coveted House National Security Committee. She was also appointed to the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Intelligence Committee. She used these positions effectively to influence political decisions that supported the economic well-being of the large defense and aerospace corporations that heavily populate her district. Her advocacy for these industries, including funding of the stealth bomber, made Harman one of the major recipients of PAC donations in Congress.

From these committee posts, Harman also worked for cooperative United States–Israel defense projects and intelligence exchange. When in Congress, she was one of only two Jewish women in the House of Representatives, and was a member of the Congressional Caucus on Anti-Semitism. Jane Harman long showed her mettle as a political contender, treading a narrow path between electoral survival and progressive social views.

During her decades-long public service career, Harman has been a force to be reckoned with. Wherever she saw gaps in representation—whether on abortion rights, national and global security issues, foreign relations or courageously advocating for gay rights in the military—Jane was always determined to do something about it. And she did.

Smith College is proud to name Jane Lakes Harman a 2022 Medalist. We salute Jane for all she has done and all she has given to countless causes and organizations. Her contributions are vast and indelible.

Tribute by Medal Committee researchers and hosts Patty Friedman Ribakoff ’80 and Imani Darden Missouri ’08.

“It’s not about recognition, it’s about impact. You can’t inspire others by being quiet.”

S. Mona Ghosh Sinha ’88 has been a tireless advocate for the rights of women and girls using her expertise in business and her passion for justice. She believes that women are the agents of change and have the ability to change their own lives, that of their families, communities and ultimately the world.

Mona parlayed a career in finance (Morgan Stanley), marketing (Unilever) and restructuring (Elizabeth Arden/Unilever) to work at the intersection of social justice and women’s economic empowerment and leadership. Mona is co-founder of Raising Change, which develops strategies to close the critical funding gap in mission-driven organizations for social change.

Mona devotes much of her time to board work—she is currently the board chair of Women Moving Millions, a community of women who fund big and bold ($1 million+) to create a gender equal world. She is also the board chair of the ERA Coalition Fund for Women’s Equality, which seeks to codify the 28th constitutional amendment of equal rights on the basis of sex. Most recently, she is an executive producer of Disclosure, a documentary film on the representation of trans people, which premiered at Sundance in January 2020 and has won numerous media awards, including the GLAAD Award for Best Documentary. She also founded the Asian Women’s Leadership University, to bring liberal arts pedagogy to train future women leaders. To date, she has catalyzed well over $1 billion for social change initiatives.

As if she was not busy enough, she is a trustee emerita of Smith College, where she was vice chair of the board of trustees and co-led the $486 million Women for the World capital campaign (the largest to-date for women’s education), as well as the transgender admissions policy.

In the words of her nominators:

Mona is a passionate advocate: “Mona is passionate–there is no better word to describe her. She takes on big challenges, whether it be human rights, anti-trafficking or gender justice. She stops people in their tracks when she speaks–and pulls people in to support her.

And Mona is a supportive mentor: “She mentors from a place of pride in Smith and a desire to pay back what she learned on this campus. She herself says that Smith was transformative to her life. She will respond to emails right away, connects people, looks at resumes, houses people in NYC, feeds them. It is quite extraordinary.”

Smith College is proud to name Mona Sinha a 2022 Medalist. Her boundless energy, passion, strategic approaches to problem solving, dedication, kindness, generosity, and advocacy for women and girls throughout her life and career encapsulates the very best that Smithies can be.

Tribute by Medal Committee researcher and host Dale Robinson Anglin ’86.

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Deborah Archer ’93

Civil rights leader; president, American Civil Liberties Union

Deborah N. Archer is president of the American Civil Liberties Union and a leading expert in civil rights, civil liberties and racial justice. A professor of clinical law and co-faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at NYU School of Law, she is an award-winning teacher and legal scholar whose articles have appeared in leading law reviews. Archer is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was awarded the Charles G. Albom Prize. She previously worked as an attorney with the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination and school desegregation. A former chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Section on Civil Rights and the Section on Minority Groups, she previously served as chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s oldest and largest police oversight agency. Archer has been widely honored by community organizations and legal institutions, including Yale Law School, Columbia Law School and the American Association of Law Schools.

READ THE GATE INTERVIEW

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Jessie Banhazl ’06

Entrepreneur; founder, Green City Growers

Jessie Banhazl is the founder of Green City Growers, a mission-driven urban farming company transforming underused spaces into biodiverse and productive landscapes. After graduating from Smith with degrees in sociology and studio art, she moved to New York City to begin a career in reality television production. Disillusioned with the entertainment industry, she moved back to Boston in 2008 to establish and run GCG. “I wanted to do work that would have a positive impact on the world,” she says. GCG reawakened her passion for food and introduced her to the importance of sustainable farming. In 2019, Banhazl was an agriculture fellow with the Eisenhower Fellowships, traveling throughout Europe to connect with a global network of dynamic change agents committed to creating a more just, peaceful and prosperous world. Green City Growers was acquired in 2021. Banhazl continues to support the company in an advisory capacity. She currently resides in Portland, Maine, and is gearing up to provide technical support to local entrepreneurs with a focus on social impact.

READ THE GATE INTERVIEW

Deborah N. Archer tells her students to pick a lane.

“I tell my students that everyone can choose a lane,” Deborah Archer ’93 says. “The lane I’ve chosen is primarily about racial justice. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care deeply about other issues, but I know that other people are on it. In this current challenging time, I think it’s just important for us all to pick a lane that we can fight in, and together we can move the needle.”

Deborah has her lane –and she’s moving the needle.

A leading expert in civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice, Deborah is Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Faculty Director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law. An award-winning teacher and legal scholar, she previously worked as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where she litigated in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, and school desegregation.

Deborah made history last year when she was elected unanimously as President of the American Civil Liberties Union, becoming the first Black person to lead the ACLU since it was founded in 1920, "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."

Deborah’s deep passion for racial justice grew out of her own experiences. Her earliest memory of protest came early in her childhood. Her Jamaican immigrant parents moved their family from Hartford, Connecticut, to the suburbs, where they felt they could give their children a better life and education. One morning, the family woke to find that their new home had been vandalized and they were victims of a hate crime. Nine-year-old Deborah was terrified, and briefly went to live with her grandmother. But her parents encouraged her, telling her she needed to fight back against the people who tried to drive the family from their new home.

During her keynote speech at Smith’s 2019 Otelia Cromwell Day, Deborah elaborated, “My parents understood that access to opportunity meant entering spaces where we were not expected and we were not welcome. And of course, where we met resistance. For me, going back into that house was my earliest memory of resistance.”

Her early resistance foreshadowed Deborah’s passionate and life-long dedication to civil rights advocacy and scholarship.

Deborah excelled as a student at Smith, majoring in government and graduating cum laude in 1993. Then, following graduation from Yale Law School in 1996, she turned her focus to one thing: fighting for racial justice using the law.

It was also during college and law school that Deborah began to understand the power of collective action. She recalls participating in and organizing protests in response to racism on campus, the Rodney King verdict, and divestment from South African apartheid. “Through all of those activities, I learned the foundational tools that I use and engage right now.”

Smith College is enormously proud to honor Deborah N. Archer as a 2022 Smith Medalist. And we thank Deborah for challenging each of us to choose a lane and move the needle.

Tribute by Medal Committee researcher and host Nancy Fenn Dietz ’66.

“No personal or professional path need be linear.”

Jessie Banhazl ’06 is an inspiring business leader and visionary for progressive company culture.As CEO and Founder of Green City Growers, she built a mission-driven urban farming company that transforms underused spaces into biodiverse and productive landscapes. Innovating upon her passion for food, farming and sustainability, her path was anything but linear. After graduating from Smith, Jessie moved to New York City to begin a career in reality television production working on shows like Wife Swap and The Hills. Eventually, she realized that “reality television wasn’t providing much good for people” and making a positive impact on the world was what really mattered.

Since its launch in 2008, Green City Growers has installed farms in over 100 unique locations throughout the Northeast, through which she has impacted thousands of individuals and empowered people from all walks of life to grow their own fresh, organic produce. Of GCGs projects a few truly stand out. The farm at Whole Foods Market in Lynnfield, MA, is the only open-air rooftop farm on top of a grocery store in the country and the largest rooftop farm in New England. The produce grown on the roof is sold directly downstairs in the store. Another stand out project is their farm at Fenway Park. Fenway Farms not only makes highly efficient use of unused space at the ballpark, but also grows hundreds of thousands of pounds of food for the restaurants at the park. Fenway Farms has become a true Red Sox fan favorite.

When Jessie started Green City Growers, she had no business experience and knew very little about urban agriculture. Over the next 13 years, she grew the business into a company that manages 20-plus employees. Along the way she made sure the company stayed true to its mission to improve local food systems and advocate for sustainable agriculture practices. In 2019, this mindset earned her an Eisenhower Fellowship which sends mid-career professionals to countries around the world to learn best practices that they can return and apply to communities and companies in the US.

This Rally Day, we are honored to celebrate Jessie Banhazl. She is a force to be reckoned with. She saw an unserved need in how unutilized urban spaces could be transformed into bio-diverse productive landscapes for the benefit of individuals and communities’ immediate access to local food while inspiring self-sufficiency through engagement.She credits her employees’ dedication, her family’s support and her Smith experiences and education as the factors that prepared and encouraged her “to jump off the deep end and try something new.”

Last year, after a 13-year ascent, Jessie sold Green City Growers to Tanimura& Antle, an organization that will carry the mission forward. Jessie continues to support the company as an advisor and reflects, “I could not imagine when I started my scrappy social impact company, it would become self-sustaining, and create significant social and environmental change.”

Smith College is proud to honor Jessie Banhazl as a 2022 Medalist. She exemplifies how a liberal arts education can support its students to create lasting and meaningful impact on the world, by changing the way we think, how we work, and how we live.

Jessie, thank you for your catalyzing effect in making people more aware of the importance of local food systems and sustainable agriculture practices as a means to combat climate change and ensure food security for all.

Tribute by Medal Committee researcher and host Patricia Friedman Ribakoff ’80.


A Conversation with the 2022 Medalists


Medal Committee 2021–22

  • Linda Smith Charles ’74, chair
  • Lisa Ilka Abrams ’90
  • Dale Robinson Anglin ’86
  • Imani (Darden) Missouri ’08
  • Nancy Fenn Dietz ’66
  • Keya Koul ’96
  • Patricia Friedman Ribakoff ’80, Board of Trustees representative
  • Dior Vargas ’09
  • Denise Wingate Materre '74, VP for Alumnae Relations
  • Alexandra Keller, Professor of Film & Media Studies and Director of the Kahn Institute
  • Amy Holich Moscaritolo AC’05, Office of Alumnae Relations, ex officio

Awards

Faculty Teaching Awards

Given annually by the Student Government Association, the Faculty Teaching Award recognizes and rewards distinction in teaching and professors’ ability to connect to students, both in and outside of the classroom. The award was established more than 20 years ago as a way for students to thank educators for their support, encouragement and inspiration. Each year students are encouraged to submit nominations to the SGA Curriculum Committee through written and other creative forms of expression.

The Elizabeth B. Wyandt Gavel Award

The Elizabeth B. Wyandt Gavel Award is given annually to Smith staff members “who have given extraordinarily of themselves to the Smith College community as a whole.” Established in 1984, the Wyandt Gavel Award is administered by the Student Government Association, which solicits nominations from students.

Academic Regalia

Following Smith College tradition, graduating students wear academic regalia for the first time at Rally Day, three months before Commencement. For Commencement, graduating seniors should come dressed in their full regalia.

Caps and gowns will be available for purchase at the Smith College Bookstore in the Campus Center on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The bookstore will also be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you have questions, please call 413-585-4140. Additional information regarding hours can be found at the bookstore's website.

Those receiving financial aid have the option of participating in the Regalia Loan Program lottery offered through the Student Government Association. All students will be invited to enter the lottery in January and will be notified in early February as to whether they can receive regalia through this program.

Only students who receive Smith aid and are verified through Student Financial Services are eligible to enter the lottery. Questions regarding this program should be directed to the SGA office at sga@smith.edu.

Following the Diploma Circle, seniors may donate their caps, hoods and gowns to future seniors by placing them in the boxes in the Student Government Association Office, room 206 on the upper level of the Campus Center. Those who have borrowed their academic regalia from SGA should return it to that office.

Ivy Day Parade

Seniors and alumnae participating in Ivy Day activities are asked to wear white; graduating seniors wear dark shoes and alumnae wear white or light shoes.


Rally Day History

The Smith College Medal has been awarded to outstanding alumnae at Rally Day since 1973. The medalists have become an important part of the program, speaking prior to convocation in classes and afterward in conversations with students.

The origins of Rally Day can be traced to a series of annual celebrations of George Washington’s birthday, the first of which was held at Smith College in February 1876. These celebrations evolved from social dinners or receptions into daylong college events. The addition of a “rally” to the day in 1894 was eventually reflected in the name Rally Day, first used in 1906. The celebration is still held annually in February but has evolved from a patriotic commemoration to a convocation.

Over the years, students have sponsored and participated in various activities: rallies, debates, basketball rivalries, dramatic presentations, singing and dancing (at first only square dancing was allowed; the waltz was introduced 20 years later).

The current tradition of sponsoring an event to benefit a charity began in 1918 when the Rally Day Show was held to raise funds for the Smith College Relief Unit serving in World War I France. It was not until 1943 that a woman—Denise H. Davey, vice chair of the Fighting French Relief Committee—was invited to speak at the commemoration exercises. For several years, the president has chosen Rally Day to announce the upcoming commencement speaker.

Dress at Rally Day has evolved as well. In 1944, the senior class began wearing its graduation caps and gowns to the convocation. The day still marks the first time the seniors publicly wear their gowns. In recent years, however, the caps have been replaced by inventive hats of the students’ choosing (and sometimes of their own making), in keeping with the “rallying” and spirited nature of the day.