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Wurtele Center for Leadership

In our work with students, faculty, and staff, the Wurtele Center for Leadership embraces and advocates for a collaborative approach to leadership. We strive to empower members of the Smith community with an understanding that they can lead from any vantage point, whether they hold positional power or not. At the same time, we recognize and seek to dismantle the power structures that produce inequities in leadership. We design workshops, programs, talks, partnerships with other campus units, and other learning experiences that encourage participants to understand themselves (ME) and collaborate productively with others (WE) in order to apply their knowledge and lead change (IMPACT).

The Wurtele Center is also the institutional home of the Collaborative Innovation Concentration (CIX).

Our mission is to equip all members of the Smith community with the creativity, courage, and collaborative capacity to lead positive change at scales both large and small.

Our Future Is Green

The Wurtele Center is getting a new home! Slated to open in 2025 and posed to be one of the most energy-efficient buildings on campus, Kathleen McCartney Hall will be a sustainable, inclusive, welcoming, and inspiring hub for career development and leadership training. 

With a “purpose-driven design,” the building will enable direct collaboration between the Lazarus and Wurtele Centers for the first time.

Learn More About the Project

A Center for Women’s Leadership

A visionary gift from Margaret Wurtele ’67 and her late husband, Angus Wurtele, has enabled Smith to further distinguish itself as the preeminent college for women’s leadership.

About Margaret Wurtele’s Vision
Margaret Wurtele

Amplify Program

Amplify is an initiative that offers you an opportunity to gain the skills, coaching and platform you need to share your knowledge and perspectives with a public audience. The program culminates with a chance to submit your work to the Amplify Competition.

About the Competition

Our Core Values


Leading collaboratively necessitates that we foster self-awareness and embrace the productive tensions associated with working in diverse groups to create better outcomes.

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Effecting positive change requires us to engage in the hard work of taking risks, building creative confidence, and practicing resilience in the face of failure and adversity as we build our leadership practice.

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Forging, evolving and pursuing a sense of purpose that is both personally meaningful and of service beyond the self is a necessary element of leading collaboratively towards the impact we seek to have in the world.

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Speaking up and amplifying the voices of those who have been pushed to the margins is essential to true collaborative leadership and central to the project of tackling inequitable power structures.

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Engaging in leadership from a place of humility and curiosity allows us to work collaboratively to create equitable and human-centered solutions to complex, urgent problems.

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Collaborative Innovation

The Collaborative Innovation partners—Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, Design Thinking Initiative, Reflective Practices, and Wurtele Center—share a mission to help students develop agency, take purposeful action, and reflect on their journey.

An infographic of a triangle composed of four smaller triangles, labeled Conway Center, Wurtele Center, and Design Thinking Initiative. The fourth triangle is in the center, reading Collaborative Innovation. A circle goes around the whole image, labeled Reflective Practices.

Meet the Team

Erin Park Cohn ’00

Director of the Wurtele Center

Erin is a Smithie who trained as a historian and has since used her critical thinking skills as an educator and facilitator of leadership development and institutional change work. Before coming to Smith in 2019, she served as senior partner at Leadership+Design, a nonprofit consultancy working to transform K-12 education through developing educational leaders’ capacity as change agents and human-centered designers. Prior to her work at L+D, she served as dean of faculty and history instructor at a New England boarding school. Erin holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania; her dissertation research explored the work of a group of visual artists who understood themselves as activists for racial and economic justice in the mid-20th century United States.

Megan Lyster

Assistant Director of the Wurtele Center

Curiosity, collaboration and human-centered design have been at the heart of Megan’s 15 years of work in higher education. Most recently, she served as the instructional designer for experiential learning in the Center for Community Engagement at Amherst College, where she worked with faculty across disciplines to design and facilitate community-based and project-based learning. Prior to that, Megan taught courses and supported independent student work in social entrepreneurship at Hampshire College. She holds a B.A. from Hampshire College with a concentration in family and developmental psychology, and an M.A. from Prescott College with a concentration in education.

Annie DelBusto Cohen

Leadership Development Designer

Annie holds a B.A. in psychology from Wells College and an M.S. in college student personnel administration from Canisius College. Trained in social justice mediation and intergroup dialogue, Annie has done work facilitating spaces to explore identity, equity and justice. She has a decade’s worth of experience in student affairs, specifically residence life and most recently managing the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network. She believes in the need for creating opportunities for students and the campus to engage at the intersection of human-centered design and leading for social justice/change.

Annie DelBusto Cohen

Sarah Hampton

Administrative Assistant

Sarah worked for 15 years in the frenetic world of magazine publishing in New York City before moving to Northampton in 2017. She developed her creative thinking and organizational skills through roles as a photo editor/producer and studio manager. Her appreciation for collaborative leadership and social innovation began with her upbringing in the Quaker community of Barnesville, Ohio, and continued at Earlham College, where she earned a B.A. in photography. Sarah values developing meaningful working relationships and has been learning the importance of strength, resilience and joy through nearly 10 years of trying to surf.

Sarah Hampton

Strategic Plan

Our mission is to equip all members of the Smith community with the creativity, courage and collaborative capacity to lead positive change at scales both large and small. During the 2019–20 academic year, the Wurtele Center for Leadership undertook a comprehensive strategic planning project using an approach inspired by Human-Centered Design.

Strategic Plan Executive Summary

Annual Report, 2022–23

“Leading well means recognizing the role we as individuals can courageously play in galvanizing those around us, and facilitating work towards collective impact in the midst of precarious and ever-changing circumstances.” 
—Erin Park Cohn, Director of the Wurtele Center

Read the Annual Report

Contact Wurtele Center for Leadership

146 Elm Street
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01060