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Student interns at the Conway Center.

About the Center

The Conway Center guides deep thinkers to become activated doers. We empower you to develop a money mindset while creating new opportunities for yourself and others.

Our Story

In February 2015, Smith College embarked on a comprehensive strategic planning process and solicited ideas designed to shape the future of the college. Many of the proposals revealed the paramount importance of emphasizing co-curricular experiences, a core value of a Smith education. President McCartney, supported by the Smith College Board of Trustees, made the decision to invest in programs that connect students’ academic experiences with creative and practical opportunities. The Jill Ker Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, named in honor of Smith’s eighth overall and first woman president, was envisioned and identified as a new initiative priority.

Thanks to the generosity of Smith alumnae, the Conway Center launched in fall 2016 and significantly expanded and built upon the successful programming and initiatives of the Center for Women and Financial Independence (2001–16). At the Center, we recognize that Smith’s liberal arts curriculum provides students with an intellectual foundation for critical thinking, communication and creativity. When integrated with the complementary innovative and entrepreneurial experiences we offer, students become better problem solvers able to develop compelling value propositions. We teach academic courses, offer co-curricular programming and engage in financial education and entrepreneurship research.

About Jill Ker Conway

Jill Ker Conway (1934–2018) began her tenure as Smith’s first woman president in 1975. She championed groundbreaking projects, programs and academic departments, including the the Ada Comstock Scholars Program and programs in women’s studies, comparative literature and engineering. In 2013, Conway received the National Humanities Medal for her work as a scholar, author, college administrator, and member of numerous corporate and nonprofit boards. In naming Smith’s innovation center after Jill Ker Conway, we honor the legacy of a true pioneer and affirm our shared commitment to women’s success and leadership.

Learn more about her life and legacy.

Our Team

Andrea St. Louis

Ann Kaplan ’67 Director

Andrea (she/her) is an executive coach, writer, business consultant, educator, and speaker. With over a decade of writing and eight years of career and workforce development experience, Andrea specializes in coaching busy professionals and entrepreneurs to grow their impact through powerful storytelling and intentional engagement in life-giving community. She has been a TEDx speech coach and is currently an adjunct professor at Bay Path University. Andrea holds an MBA in Entrepreneurial Thinking & Innovative Practices from Bay Path University, a master's in Urban Ministry Leadership from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a bachelor of science in management from Saint Joseph College (now the University of Saint Joseph).

Andrea St. Louis

René Heavlow AC’08

Director of Operations and Special Programs

René (she/her) has been developing national collegiate programs for over two decades. She is responsible for operational and budget management, and executing unique programs offered by the Collaborative Innovation units—Conway Center, Design Thinking Initiative, Reflective Practices, and Wurtele Center for Leadership. She also develops and implements many of the personal finance initiatives offered by the Conway Center. René is the co-director for the Global Finance Concentration and chair of the Co-Innovate for Change Challenge planning committee. She received her master’s in sociology from the University of Arizona and bachelor’s degree in African American studies and ethics from Smith College.

Jennifer Kennedy

Administrative Assistant

Jennifer (she/her) joined Smith College in August 2018. She is the administrative assistant at the Conway Center and the Design Thinking Initiative. Jennifer is the primary contact for external offices and students, and has been a member of the Administrative Assistant Leadership Team (AALT) since November 2019. Jennifer has a master’s in education in athletic administration from Springfield College and a bachelor’s degree in Communication and English from Cedar Crest College.

Jennifer Kennedy

Lauren A. Burke, Esq.


Lauren (she/her), born and raised in western MA, turned her precocious childhood into a life of social entrepreneurship. Fluent in Mandarin, Lauren started her career as a lawyer for trafficked children and has since founded Atlas: DIY, Immigration Nation, Camp Equity, and Notehouse—software for everyone who takes notes on humans. Lauren now uses her privilege and lessons to support lived-experience leaders through her consulting agency, The Possible LAB. Lauren has been named a Skadden Fellow, an Echoing Green Fellow, a Forbes 30 Under 30, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, on NPR’s All Things Considered, and in four documentary pieces. She lives in Conway with her partner, two children, dog, cat and many many books. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn.

Our Student Partners

Karen Colmán Martínez ’26

Mathematical sciences major

I am an international student from Paraguay and currently part of the blog team at the Conway Center. I love the blog because it gives me the opportunity to showcase the diverse and innovative initiatives within the Smith community. It’s thrilling to highlight the entrepreneurial spirit and achievements of students and faculty alike. Outside of school, I enjoy reading and watching movies!

Helen Glover ’24

Computer science and environmental science major

I am passionate about the balance of innovative tech and design in creating holistic sustainable solutions. I conceived of a project around UN SDGs and am happy to work with my team members to strengthen campus awareness, engagement, and initiatives around the SDGs.

Juliana Hobert ’26J

Government major; Economics minor

Being deeply passionate about education, I have worked as a tutor and educator for middle and high school students. I am new to the Conway Center and look forward to helping students engage in entrepreneurship and innovation on campus and beyond on the new Ecosystem Mapping team.

Daphne Hwang Spencer ’25

Anthropology major; Chinese minor

I am passionate about community building and am excited to bring my skills in social media management and leadership to help formulate and execute the new Co-Innovate for Change Challenge! I am also the 2023–24 House President of Lamont House.

Sydney Jacobs ’24

Psychology and quantitative economics major; Global finance concentrator

This is my third year working at the Conway Center, where I’ve honed my organizational skills. Now, I’m putting those skills to use, helping to project manage the Co-Innovate for Change Challenge. I am passionate about sustainable finance and am a member of the Investing Club ESG sector.

Ange Joseph ’26

Economics and government major

As one of the newest members of the Conway Center team, I hope to contribute to projects that drive positive change and empower the Smith community via the Strategic Planning team. I am passionate about environmental and sustainable economic models.

Xiaoxiao Li ’25

Quantitative economics and mathematical sciences major

(On leave Spring 2024) I have a strong interest in venture capital and entrepreneurship. Formerly a member of the podcast team, I now serve on Conway’s Strategic Planning Team. We are focused on raising student awareness of Conway’s resources and shaping its development goals and finding out what Smithies want from the Center.

Handi Lu ’25

Quantitative economics and music major

I am a part of the Bloomberg Team, providing resources for students who are interested in learning about and using the Bloomberg terminal. I live in Tyler house, am a part of the Smith College Investment Club, and serve as a student liaison of the music department.

Julieta Michelin Salomon ’25

Quantitative economics major; Collaborative innovation concentrator

Hailing from Uruguay, I have been involved in the Conway Center since I landed at Smith in my first year. I am interested in working on the behind the scenes of this Center which provides amazing opportunities for students from any background. I’ll be doing just that on the team that is relaunching Conway’s blog: Smithies Get Sh*t Done!

Parunjodhi Munisamy ’24

Quantitative Economics and statistical & data science major

Hi! I am Parunjodhi. I am an international student from Mauritius. I love being a Conway Center intern since I get to contribute in creating an empowering environment for Smithies interested in entrepreneurship and financial well-being. Make an appointment with me if you want to learn how to utilize the Bloomberg Terminal.

Venus Nguyen ’25

Computer science major; Studio art minor

Hi, I'm Venus. I was interested in working at the Conway Center because I wanted to expand my horizon as much as I can in fields I’m not familiar with, one of those being entrepreneurship. I’m excited that I get to learn as much as I can on the Ecosystem Mapping team, and connect this work with my personal hobbies and innate curiosities!

Dimitra Prassa ’25

Environmental science & policy and economics major

I’m Dimitra, from Greece. I’m passionate about sustainability, climate change and ESG Investments. I’m super excited to work with the Conway Center and learn more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and implement them in the work that I do on the team. A fun fact about myself is that I can drive a tractor but not a car (yet).

Nicole Sanchez Flores ’26

Statistical & data sciences and psychology major

Hello! I’m Nicole. I enjoy playing video games and also biking. I’m really passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, and I’m a member of P’alente. I’m also a HONS and will be working at the Lazarus center as a peer advisor. This year at Conway I am a member of the UN SDG team, raising awareness about sustainable development.

Isa Skare ’26

Dance major

I’m Isa Skare and I work on the podcast team. I love editing and am interested in the stories I get to hear from both peers and entrepreneurs. A little known fact about me is that I have synesthesia, more specifically related to color!

Nadira Talayee ’26

Statistical & data sciences major

I call Kabul, Afghanistan home. Besides my love for running, I also enjoy writing and cooking/baking in my free time. I work on the Podcast team, bringing stories about founders who have chosen cool paths to entrepreneurship.

Trang Tran ’25

Quantitative economics and statistical & data sciences major; Global finance concentrator

Having used Bloomberg extensively in my summer internship for data analysis projects, I am  super excited to host Bloomberg workshops and drop-in hours. Outside of school and the investment club, I enjoy hiking, dancing, and eating poke bowls downtown!

Danyi Xu ’26

Sociology and economics major

I am excited to be on the Podcast team and interested in social media marketing. I hope our episodes encourage the Smith community to engage more with the Conway Center.

Jennifer Zhang ’25

Economics major

I work on the Podcast team. I love cooking, painting and reading books. I also love to try new foods!


Mahnaz Mahdavi

Faculty Director, Global Finance Concentration

Mahnaz Mahdavi is chair of and a professor in the economics department and the faculty director of the Global Financial Institutions Concentration. She received her doctorate in economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has been teaching courses on topics related to finance and international finance. She was the 2008 Distinguished Professor of the Year and one of the inaugural recipients of the Sherrerd Teaching Award in 2004. She was a teaching fellow at the University of Michigan and a faculty contributor to the Women’s Executive Education program at Smith College. Mahdavi was the founding director of Smith’s Center for Women and Financial Independence in 2001 and served as the Ann F. Kaplan ’67 faculty director of WFI until 2017.

Mahnaz Mahdavi

Susannah Howe

Faculty Mentor Coordinator

Susannah Howe coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course. Since joining the Smith faculty in 2003, she has coached numerous student design teams across a wide range of engineering disciplines and collaborated with multiple sponsoring organizations from both industry and government. Her favorite part of the job is working with students during their senior year and being part of their transition into life after Smith. She stays in contact with many engineering alumnae and hosts many of them back on campus as guest speakers in the capstone course. Her Smith service both past and present includes the Administrative Board, the Jandon Center for Community Collaboration, the Lewis Global Studies Center, the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning, the Committee on Educational Technology, the College Council on Community Policy, the Committee for Faculty Compensation and Development, the Design Thinking Initiative, the Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, and the Program for the Study of Women and Gender.

Daniel Schultheis

Personal Finance Instructor

Daniel Schultheis has been an educator at various institutions and businesses for more than 15 years and a student of personal finance for even longer. He served as a faculty member at Smith College from 2016-2022 in the Department of Mathematical Sciences before transitioning to an education technology startup. Daniel credits his interest in personal finance to a family that talked about the good and the bad of money even from an early age. He believes that the psychology of personal finance is just as important as the numbers, and that honest conversations about money and a willingness to ask questions can make a world of difference for young adults starting out on their own. Daniel has worked with the Conway Center at Smith College since 2022 to facilitate these conversations and share what he has learned.